A member of the busy B vitamin family, vitamin B6, also named pyridoxine, carries out many vital functions in the body. However, it’s probably best known for its role in maintaining proper immune function and good hormonal balance – it is particularly effective at balancing female hormones and the monthly highs and lows. It also plays a vital role in the functioning of the nervous system.
Vitamin B6 plays such an important role in more than 140 different enzyme systems in the body, plus it’s essential for the multiplication of cells, therefore playing a crucial role in healthy pregnancies. Vitamin B6 also works very closely with magnesium, partly due to their joint roles in enzyme reactions, which is why women often find a combination of the two nutrients is ideal for alleviating symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).
Vitamin B6 is widely found in many foods, including wholegrains, beans, bananas, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Interestingly, most vitamin B6 in grains is found primarily in the germ of the outer layers, therefore refined grains contain very little. This supports the general nutritional advice to eat wholegrains and wholemeal bread and pasta, rather than white or refined foods. Most meats also contain good amounts of this vitamin.
Vitamin B6 is one of the most widely studied of all vitamins. It’s prized as a supplement for many different conditions and has been used widely in cases of asthma; asthmatics often have a defect in the production of the brain’s neurotransmitter, tryptophan, and once this has been unblocked through supplementation, the frequency and severity of attacks have been shown to diminish.
Vitamin B6 is closely involved with the health of the nervous system, so conditions such as depression can be greatly alleviated by supplementation. Additionally, it’s essential for the production of antibodies, which explains its importance in a healthy immune system. It’s certainly a useful one to have in your vitamin store cupboard.