What is vitamin B6? We tell you all about its origin, properties and benefits!

Our body is incapable of synthesizing and storing vitamin B6. Yet it is one of the micronutrients essential to our health. Vitamin B6 is responsible for several metabolic reactions. In particular, it ensures the production of proteins and red blood cells.

A healthy, balanced diet is therefore essential to provide the body with a sufficient daily intake.

Description of vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin belonging to the B group. It is essential to the body, which can neither manufacture nor store it. The body obtains it daily in various forms from the foods we eat (pyridoxine, pyridoxamine and pyridoxal). It is also found in active form in our bodies (pyridoxal-5-phosphate or PLP). The foods richest in vitamin B6 are offal, meat and fatty fish.


The benefits of vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is a precursor of many enzymes, including pyridoxal phosphate, a coenzyme involved in several enzymatic systems linked to amino acid metabolism. As a coenzyme of over a hundred enzymes, vitamin B6 depends on the action of each enzyme.

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is involved in the synthesis and renewal of red blood cells. A severe deficiency of this vitamin can lead to megaloblastic anemia.

Vitamin B6 is involved in certain chemical reactions to promote the synthesis and degradation of certain amino acids (tyrosine, methionine, tryptophan, cysteine), the metabolism of glycogen and lipidsand hemoglobin synthesis.

Pyridoxine balances the immune system. It also ensures the production of white blood cells and the health of lymphoid organs. Normal levels of vitamin B6 enable our bodies to defend themselves against external pathogens and infections.

In the body, vitamin B6 is also involved in the production of neurotransmitters and essential hormones such as adrenalin, serotonin and noradrenalin. It enables exchanges between different neurons and ensures hormonal balance.

The synthesis and degradation of amino acids and proteins also require vitamin B6. It is particularly active in the metabolism of tryptophan, ensuring its transformation into vitamin B3.

Nutritional references (Recommended Dietary Allowances)


Vitamin B6 nutritional requirement (mg/day)


Children aged 1 to 3

Children aged 4 to 6


Children aged 7 to 9

Children aged 10 to 12


Teenagers aged 13 to 15

Girls 1.5

Boys 1.6

Adolescents over 16

Girls 1.5

Boys 1.5

Pregnant / breast-feeding women

Seniors (over 75)


Sources of vitamin B6 intake

All foods contain vitamin B6, but in different chemical forms. Whole grains (rice, millet, wheat, rye) and sprouted cereal seeds contain more plant-derived vitamin B6. This form of vitamin B6 is not altered by cooking methods. Vitamin B6 of animal origin is found mainly in meat and fish. It is partially destroyed by preparation methods, as it is water-soluble. It is also modified by UV rays.

Good sources of vitamin B6


Vitamin B6 content (mg/100g)
Baked skipjack tuna


Turkey, drumstick, roasted

Lamb or veal liver, sautéed

0,9 à 1

Beef liver, sautéed or braised

Atlantic cod, pink or chum, poached or grilled

0,6 à 0,9

Chicken, flesh only, roasted

Octopus, steamed or boiled


Atlantic salmon, pink or chum, poached

0,6 à 0,9
Yellowfin tuna, baked


Vitamin B6 deficiency and overdose

Vitamin B6 deficiency is rarely observed in healthy people with a roughly balanced diet. On the other hand, it is common in people who are malnourished, ill, suffer from alcoholism or rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin B6 deficiency is generally associated with other deficiencies in vitamins of group B, without necessarily presenting specific symptoms. The most noticeable signs of deficiency are glossitis (inflammation of the tongue), peripheral neuropathy (pain in the extremities, trouble walking), and megaloblastic anemia (abnormality of the cells that form red blood cells).

An excess of vitamin B6 is also neurotoxic. In high doses, this vitamin can cause neurological disturbances and memory loss. It can also cause neuropathy. But all cases can be treated medically.

In general, vitamin B6 is found in multivitamins, in largely acceptable doses, and it's not a bad idea to go without.

Good to know about vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 requires the presence of all B-group vitamins to be properly assimilated by the body. It has a favourable effect on the action and assimilation of vitamin B12 and magnesium in the body. However, certain drugs can reduce the effectiveness of pyridoxine. These include isoniazid and cycloserine (for tuberculosis), penicillamine (for rheumatoid arthritis), theophylline (for asthma), hydralazine (for hypertension), tetracycline (antibiotic), oral contraceptives, estrogens and MAOI-type antidepressants.

Next chapter: vitamin B8.
Previous chapter: vitamin B5.


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