Many people are consuming less than the suggested RDA amounts of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). This is due largely to the practice of milling that removes up to 90% of it from grain sources. As yet, there are no laws requiring the enrichment of milled grains with vitamin B6.
Probably the biggest cause of deficiency (or an increased requirement) is the addition of antagonists in the environment over the last 50 years. Antagonists include:
Other causes include:
Deficiency symptoms include pain and stiffness in arms and hands, painful 'knots' on the last joints of the fingers, headaches, bad breath, dizziness, extreme nervousness, foul-smelling flatulence, burning pain and cramps in abdomen, lethargy, dizziness, swollen ankles, an itching red rash around genitals, nausea, sore lips, mouth and tongue, and "showers of dandruff".
Severe B6 depletion may result in depression, nausea, vomiting, mucous membrane lesions, seborrheic dermatitis, peripheral neuritis, ataxia, hyperacusis, hyperirritability, altered mobility and alertness, abnormal head movements and convulsions.
In treating Heberden's nodes and trigger finger, B6 at 100-150mg per day may not work unless you eat one handful of raw pecans a day (i.e. you need both) says Dr. Goodheart. The nodes may not go away but pain and mobility should be much better over several weeks.
By impairing pancreatic insulin production, vitamin B6 deficiency may increase the tendency towards hyperglycemia in cases of gestational diabetes. [J Am Coll Nutr 15(1): pp.14-20, 1996] Supplementation with vitamin B6 may be beneficial during this condition. [Editorial, Lancet: pp.788-9, 1976, J Optimal Nutr 2(4): pp.239-43, 1993]
In one study of 14 women with gestational diabetes, taking 100mg of vitamin B6 for 2 weeks resulted in eliminating this diagnosis in 12 of the 14 women.
Children with asthma have been shown to have a metabolic defect in tryptophan metabolism. Tryptophan is converted to serotonin, a known bronchoconstricting agent in asthmatics. Studies have shown that patients benefit from either a tryptophan-restricted diet or B6 supplementation to correct the blocked tryptophan metabolism. Pyridoxine may also be of direct benefit to asthmatic patients, since it is a key cofactor in the synthesis of all the major neurotransmitters.
Especially if associated with birth control pill use.
A functional pyridoxine deficiency is common in pyroluria (often seen in alcoholics), due not so much to inadequate intake as impaired conversion to its active form, pyridoxal-5-phosphate, and enhanced degradation.
B6 is a cofactor for the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin and for the synthesis of dopamine and norepinephrine. It has been found to be quite low in patients admitted to hospital for depression. [Lancet April 18,1970, pp.832-33] Some doctors claim that when women have depression and insomnia, B6 and tryptophan work consistently.
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