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Vitamin B6 Overview

Pyridoxine, Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin necessary for the proper function of over 70 different enzymes that participate in amino acid metabolism, among other things. Vitamin B6 is also involved in carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Vitamin B6 is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters in the brain and nerve cells, and may support mental function (mood) and nerve conduction. It may also improve emotional outlook and mood through serotonin synthesis. It is necessary for hemoglobin synthesis and red blood cell growth, immune support (white blood cell development), and has been used for arthritis relief

Deficiency symptoms include a skin condition called seborrhea with dry, flaky lesions around the eyes, nose and mouth, as well as signs and symptoms in the mucous membranes, peripheral nerves and blood forming system. In severe deficiency, seizures may occur. Vitamin B6 needs are increased in those individuals consuming a high protein diet as well as in women taking oral contraceptives (birth control pills).

Vitamin B6 is important in the treatment of excess homocysteine and therefore the prevention of heart disease. It is necessary in the conversion of the amino acid tryptophan into niacin, and therefore is involved in lowering cholesterol. Because B6 plays a role in prostaglandin synthesis it may help regulate blood pressure, muscle and heart function and pain levels, and reduce symptoms of PMS (each of which is partially regulated by prostaglandins). Vitamin B6 supplements (in conjunction with folic acid) reduce plasma levels of homocysteine. Vitamin B6, combined with magnesium, appears to reduce oxalate excretion and decrease the occurrence of kidney stones. Vitamin B6 is often recommended as a treatment of the inflammation and nerve compression in carpal tunnel syndrome. It is also an accessory treatment for symptoms of autism, and for reversing some of the side effects of a strong cancer medication, flurouracil.

Dietary Sources: Poultry, fish, whole grains and bananas.

Dosage: The RDA for vitamin B6 is 2mg. The dosage for relieving PMS, carpel tunnel and treating kidney stones is 10-50 mg one to three times per day.

Side Effects: As a water-soluble B vitamin, B6 is generally very safe as a dietary supplement. Excessive intakes (2-6 grams acutely or 500 mg chronically) are associated with sensory neuropathy (loss of feeling in the extremities) - which may or may not be reversible.


Research Overview

Human and animal studies were reviewed for pyridoxine deficiency and the effects of therapeutic application of the vitamin.
Pyridoxine deficiency has been shown to contribute to:
1. Increased risks associated with cigarette smoking
2. Gestational diabetes
3. Intensification of psychotic behavior in schizophrenia
4. Depression
5. Fatigue
6. Confused mental state
7. Decrease in serotonin and melatonin function
8. Convulsions
9. Tremors

Pyridoxine supplementation has been shown to:
1. Be effective in suppressing lactation following stillbirths, abortion and death of child
2. Cure carpal tunnel syndrome and eliminate need for surgery
3. Inhibit pancreatic cancers when administered with folate
4. Decrease risk of gastric cancer
5. Decrease symptoms associated with some chemotherapy
6. Suppress herpes simplex virus development
7. Improve immune function
8. Increase levels of lymphocytes and monocytes
9. Protect against parasitic infection
10. Aid the synthesis of CoQ10
11. Prevent abnormal increase in the number of cells
12. Improve glucose tolerance
13. Lower blood glucose levels
14. Improve glucose metabolism in gestational diabetes
15. Relieve symptoms of depression associated with oral contraceptive use
16. Provide better control for diabetes when combined with insulin
17. Alleviate PMS symptoms of depression, irritability, tiredness
18. Block epileptic seizures
19. Prevent seizures caused by isoniazid (tuberculosis treatment) toxicity
20. Prevent psychosis caused by isoniazid
21. Decreases depression associated with celiac disease
22. Be an effective treatment for hyperkinetic syndrome
23. Potentially improve dyskinesias (involuntary muscle movement) in Parkinson’s disease
24. Improve drug-induced dyskinesias
25. Dilate blood vessels and therefore be effective against motion sickness
26. Prevent lymphocyte blood count reduction
27. Reduce psychological distress associated with grief
28. Diminish homocysteine levels in the blood thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease
29. Prevent the formation of kidney stones

Following are some important aspects of pyridoxine
1. Children with leukemia have low levels of pyridoxine
2. People with chronic uremia have low levels of pyridoxine
3. Elderly people with low incomes and health problems tend to have low levels of pyridoxine
4. Teenage girls tend to have low levels of pyridoxine
5. Carpal tunnel symptoms reappear if pyridoxine is discontinued

Vitamin B6 Abstracts (457)