Vitamin B6 is a collective term for several compounds that are very similar. Pyridoxine is the free form of vitamin B6 and is named after its structural similarity to pyridine. Pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP) is the most biologically active form of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is an essential nutrient in humans with many specific biochemical functions that generally involve PLP’s use as a cofactor in the metabolism of amino acids, glucose and lipids.
Vitamin B6 is required to convert a molecule called homocysteine to the amino acid cysteine. High levels of homocysteine are linked to many age-related health conditions such as cardiovascular problems and age-related cognitive decline. Studies have shown that supplementation with vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folate significantly reduces brain shrinkage (atrophy) in older age. This brain-protective effect of vitamin B6 is thought to be due to its homocysteine-lowering levels.
The Hungarian physician Paul Gyorgy identified a substance in 1934 that could cure a specific skin disease in rats. He named this factor vitamin B6, which the American nutritionist Samuel Lepkovsky isolated from rice bran in 1938. Leslie Harris and Karl Folkers determined the exact chemical structure of pyridoxine by 1939.
Many forms of vitamin B6 are abundantly available in foods, including its free form. Its most significant dietary sources include animal protein, especially beef, pork and turkey. Plant-based sources of vitamin B6 include bananas, cereal grains, chickpeas, pistachios and potatoes. However, food processing techniques can dramatically reduce vitamin B6 content. For example, whole cereal grains are high in vitamin B6. However, refined grains have very little vitamin B6 since this nutrient is concentrated in the outer layers of the grain.
Vitamin B6 has many possible benefits as a health supplement since it is an essential nutrient. Common uses of health supplements include the healthy functioning of the blood and eyes as well as support for normal behavior, menstruation and brain support.
Some research shows that vitamin B6 may help to maintain your vision, especially if you are older. This application typically combines vitamin B6 with folic acid and vitamin B12.
Vitamin B6 may help to manage the symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), including breast discomfort.
Vitamin B6 may help to maintain serotonin levels in children, which can support normal behavior.
Oral vitamin B6 may support blood health by helping to manage normal levels of homocysteine. This use often combines vitamin B6 with folic acid.
A vitamin B6 deficiency is almost always due to a long-term condition that inhibits the metabolism of vitamin B6 rather than insufficient dietary intake. These conditions primarily include alcoholism, chronic diarrhea, genetic disorders and drug interactions. Common signs that you may need vitamin B6 include seborrhea, throat ulcers and rashes in the skin folds.
Pyridoxine, Pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP)
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