The benefits of vitamin B6 for women are numerous and the most important thing is hormonal balance. Sometimes the problem for women struggling with symptoms of hormonal imbalance, such as PMS and infertility, is the need for nutrients that support healthy hormones.
The benefits of vitamin B6 include
· Hormonal balance
· Support for symptoms such as nausea in pregnancy
· Reduces premenstrual syndrome
· Improve sleep
· Optimizing brain health
· Mood support
· Reduces inflammation
· Autoimmunity support
Vitamin B6 is a general term that encompasses pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine, as well as their coenzymatic forms pyridoxal 5 ′ phosphate and pyridoxamine 5 ′ phosphate. B6 is water soluble and cannot be stored or manufactured by the body.
Vitamin B6 is so important for female hormones.
Adequate levels of vitamin B6 are a critical component of good health. Vitamin B6 is part of more than 100 chemical reactions in your body.
It works to help synthesize neurotransmitters in the brain (such as serotonin, a neurotransmitter that supports a positive mood). It is part of the production of hemoglobin (responsible for oxygenating organs and tissues).
B6 is also integral to immune function and protein, carbohydrate, and fat metabolism.
And it's an important partner in balancing hormones.
Vitamin B6 for hormonal balance
It is important to help your liver remove estrogen from the body. B6 (along with B12 and folic acid) plays a leading role in this process. It's one of the reasons so many women can help their estrogen mastery with a high-quality B vitamin supplement.
Another reason B vitamin supplementation helps estrogen dominance symptoms is because B6 can help increase progesterone and decrease estrogen, which for many women is the sweet spot for hormonal balance.
B6 is also important in the function of the adrenal glands. Helps in the production of adrenal hormones. Many women who struggle with HPA axis dysfunction (a term that basically means that their adrenal glands are not functional as they should, so they feel exhausted, irritable, and have poor memory and low libido) find that they focus on getting enough B vitamins., helps to get your adrenal glands working properly again.
How much B6 do I need per day?
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin B6 is:
· Ages 19-50 - 1.3 mg
· Men older than 51 years - 1.7 mg
· Women older than 51 years - 1.5 mg
· Pregnant and lactating women - 1.9 mg
Understand that the RDA is based on the minimum necessary to avoid developing deficiency symptoms. But the bare minimum will not help many of us achieve optimal health. And when we are in a healing phase or have symptoms, we often need more.
But keep in mind that just because something is good for you does not mean that much more is better.
How much is too much vitamin B6?
Research has shown that toxicity symptoms can develop in some people who use very high doses for a long time. Toxicity can occur at doses of 1,000 mg or more daily. The most common symptom is numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, also known as neuropathy.
There have been some case studies of people developing neuropathy at doses of 500 mg a day. The important thing here is to evaluate what is true for you.
There have been no studies including objective neurological examinations that have shown nerve damage at supplemental doses of less than 100 mg per day. If you are concerned, keep the dose up to 100mg and, of course, talk to your doctor before starting supplementation.
While it's nearly impossible to get too much B6 from food, over-supplementation can lead to:
· Ataxia (loss of motor coordination)
· Neuropathy (numbness and pain in the feet and hands)
· Skin rashes or lesions
· Sensitivity to light
What whole foods contain B6?
Some of the best whole food sources of B6 include:
· Cow liver
· Chicken breast
· Cow meat
Animal sources of B6 have been shown to be more bioavailable than its forms in some plant foods. Just a few ounces of turkey, pork, or beef can get you 30 to 40% of the RDA.
A cup of chickpeas contains about 50% of your daily needs.
Vegetarians, vegans and B vitamins
While severe vitamin B6 deficiencies are rare, many people experience a subclinical vitamin B deficiency.
It's a problem often overlooked by doctors because signs and symptoms can be mild for years before progressing to total deficiency.
And while it is possible to ingest B6 from plant sources, vegetarians and vegans are at risk for lower levels of B vitamins. Generally, a high-quality B-complex vitamin is sufficient to maintain optimal levels.
B6 and absorption problems
Another common reason for mild B6 deficiency is that the nutrient's absorption is blocked, either by medications or existing conditions that prevent the body from fully utilizing it.
Some of the more common root causes that B6 cannot be absorbed properly are:
· Hormonal Contraceptives: Yes, scientists have known that the pill depletes a woman's nutrients.
· Autoimmune intestinal disorders (such as celiac disease, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis)
· Rheumatoid arthritis
· Kidney disease
What are the signs and symptoms of B6 deficiency?
A significant B6 deficiency generally coexists with other B vitamin deficiencies, such as B12 and folic acid.
Even a minor B6 deficiency can start to appear as:
· Low energy
· Dry lips
· Skin problems
· Decreased immune function
· Mental fog and confusion
· Dreamless dream
Can B6 Help With Nausea During Pregnancy?
B6 can be a safe and natural way to help women deal with the nausea that is often experienced during the first trimester of pregnancy.
A 40 mg dose taken twice a day has been shown to be as effective as ginger in relieving morning sickness.
At this dose, many women see an improvement in their nausea levels within 4 days.
As always, if you are pregnant, you will definitely need to discuss it with your doctor.
Vitamin B6 and SPM
Studies have shown that vitamin B6, especially when combined with calcium or magnesium, can reduce the symptoms of PMS. Participants reported a marked decrease in symptoms such as:
· Back pain
Does vitamin B6 help you sleep?
Vitamin B6 is crucial in the production of serotonin. Which, as you probably already know, plays a huge role in making you feel happy. But it also turns into melatonin, the sleep hormone and a powerful antioxidant.
Over the years, there has been tons of anecdotal evidence suggesting that B6 levels are a key component in determining sleep quality and the ability to dream.
A recent study finally set out to prove the claims, and participants ingested 240 mg of B6 before bed, resulting in a significant increase in the number of dreams that participants recalled.
Additionally, multiple studies suggest that formulations that include B6 are extremely effective in inducing sleep. Especially when combined with melatonin and botanicals.
Vitamin B6 and brain health
B6 plays such an important role in brain health because it helps make the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and norepinephrine.
The levels of these chemicals have been shown to play a role in depression. In fact, one study found that low levels of B6 in the blood doubled the likelihood of depression in older people.
Additionally, this study showed that older people who consumed the most B6 in their diet were 43% less likely to become depressed.
Unfortunately, we still have a lot more to learn about how to use B6 to treat depression. In this clinical trial, supplementation had no effect on the condition.
Similar to depression, it is possible to show a correlation between B6 levels and Alzheimer's disease.
Homocysteine is an amino acid that is generally broken down by B6, B12, and folic acid. Once it is properly metabolized, most people will have very low levels of it in their blood.
Studies have shown that dementia and Alzheimer's patients have elevated homocysteine levels. B6 has been shown to effectively lower homocysteine levels. It would be logical, then, that B6 supplementation could help Alzheimer's patients.
However, as with depression, it appears that B6 supplementation may not be as effective in Alzheimer's treatments as might be expected.
For one thing, this study showed that high doses of B vitamins produced a sevenfold reduction in gray matter atrophy in Alzheimer's patients. On the other hand, this study showed that while B6 supplementation lowered homocysteine levels, cognitive function did not actually improve.
As this study concluded, more research and testing is needed to determine exactly how to help dementia and Alzheimer's patients with B vitamins.
The reality is that we need B6 for brain health, but when it comes to a multifactorial condition like Alzheimer's, we need a holistic approach.
B6 and cardiovascular health
Similar to Alzheimer's, high homocysteine levels are indicative of heart disease. And this study showed a strong association between low B6 levels and coronary artery disease.
Could B6 Supplementation Be the Answer to the Heart Disease Epidemic? The results of this study are promising: the group that took B6 along with folate had favorable results on heart tests during exercise, which means they have a lower risk of heart attack.
Vitamin B6 and cancer
It is well accepted that inflammation is related to cancer. And the role of B6 in reducing inflammation is beginning to emerge.
In the case of colorectal cancer, studies have found that people with the highest levels of B6 were less likely to develop the disease. The same is true for breast cancer as well.
Unfortunately, there is simply not enough data to draw conclusions, but the researchers remain optimistic.
And to be clear, there is no nutrient or even one thing to prevent cancer. It is more complex and we need more research.
Age-related macular degeneration and B6
Homocysteine is again a factor here: higher levels in the blood mean that an individual is more likely to have age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Again, could B6 supplementation mean that we can lower homocysteine and therefore the likelihood of developing AMD? This study seems to indicate that it is a possibility. Participants in the study found that taking a vitamin B supplement reduced the risk by 35-40%.
Can B6 help people with rheumatoid arthritis?
People with rheumatoid arthritis have been shown to have low levels of B6 and high levels of homocysteine.
A study showed that B6 supplementation could improve the pro-inflammatory response in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Study participants received 100 mg of B6 per day for 12 weeks.
It's a hopeful indication that B6 can be used to improve the lives of people with this condition.
Is B6 the same as folic acid?
While this is a common misconception, B6 and folic acid are not, in fact, the same.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, which is vitamin B9.
Drug interactions with vitamin B6
If you take any of the following medications, you should be careful with vitamin B6 supplements and speak with your doctor, as they could interfere with the effectiveness of your medications:
· Anti-seizure drugs: Cerebyx, Dilantin, Phenytek
· Parkinson's drug - Levodopa
· Barbiturates - Secobarbital, Phenobarbital, Amobarbital
· Chemotherapy drugs - Altretamine (Hexalen), cisplatin
What if I have the MTHFR gene variation?
The methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene has been receiving attention for the past few years because those with a variation often have elevated homocysteine levels. Which, as you know, can be an indicator of disease. While there aren't really any associated symptoms, people with an MTHFR gene variant are more likely to be susceptible to a number of problems, including:
· Heart disease
· Colon cancer
· Bipolar disorder
· Spontaneous abortion
By some estimates, 40% of the population may have this genetic variant.
This gene affects the processing of vitamin B, so it is not surprising that an increase in the level of homocysteine accompanies it.
Fortunately, proper supplementation shows great promise as a treatment. In one study, women with MTHFR variants who had experienced recurrent miscarriage where they received B6, B12, and folic acid supplements to great effect: homocysteine levels were lowered, and 7 out of 16 participants gave birth in one year.
People with an MTHFR variant should be careful about the type of B vitamins they supplement with and what types of fortified packaged foods they consume. Because they cannot process folic acid (the synthetic form of B9) they eliminate certain foods and low-quality supplements can cause folic acid to build up to unhealthy levels in their bodies.
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