Pyridoxine, more commonly known as vitamin B-6, is one of the most utilized and beneficial
vitamins in the human body. The versatility of this vitamin shows in its widely studied
abitlity to lower homocysteine levels, improve severe complications associated with diabetes,
reverse symptoms of edema and relieve the bane of workers' -- carpal tunnel syndrome. It also
is a comrade to the nervous system, which depends on pyridoxine for optimal functioning.
Luckily, most quality multivitamins -- notably those available in your fovorite health food
store -- contain qualitative levels of pyridoxine.
As you may be well aware, today's diet-on-the-go, more ubiquitous toxic environments, stress
and other lifestyle factors all conjoin to foster a hostile inner ecosystem that may be
detrimental to proper absorption and utilization of incoming nutrients. It is therefore
imperative to know your essential vitamins and minerals and to be cognizant, too, of any
possible warning signs of deficiancy.
The Essentials of Vitamin B-6
Vitamin B-6 encompasses six related compounds: pyridoxal (PL), pyridoxine (PN),
pyridoxamine (PM), and their respective 5'-phosphates (PLP, PNP, and PMP), according to the
textbook of the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine entitled, Dietary
Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12,
Pantothenic Acid, Biotin and Choline. The major forms found and utilized in animal tissue
are PLP and PMP -- the plant kingdom mainly contains PN and PNP. In humans, the major
excretory form is 4-pyridoxic acid (4-PA).
Vitamin B-6 is known to function as a co-enzyme and it participates in excess of 60 enzymatic reactions in the metabolism of both essential
fatty acids and amino acids ( aminos are protein components), according to Shari Lieberman, Ph.D., and Nancy Bruning, authors of The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book
(second edition). They assert that due to these actions, vitamin B-6 is a necessary element "for the proper growth and maintenance of almost all our body structures, and for almost
all our body functions."
John Ellis, M.D., and Jean Pamplin write in their book, Vitamin B-6 Therapy, "Since its discovery in 1934, vitamin B-6 has become the most researched vitamin
on earth. Vitamin B-6 has gained widespread attention in the treatment of disease conditions including coronary heart disease, diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, complications of pregnancy and
soft-tissue rheumatism. The scientific literature includes scores of cases and examples in which patients showed marked improvement during and after vitamin B-6 therapy."
In essence, vitamin B-6 is not only a nutrient for maintenance of bodily finctions, but it can be a thera peutic agent as well. This duality, as you will see,
makes this vitamin a very attractive one. "The more my patients responded to therapeutic doses of the vitamin, the more I became convinced of its importance," asserts Ellis. He added that,
continuously, "we find that disease-stressed bodies are highly in need of supplemental B-6 therapy."
In his book, Dr. Heinerman's Encyclopedia of Nature's Vitamins & Minerals, John Heinerman, Ph.D., writes tha both clinical and anecdotal evidence suggests strongly
that moderate supplementation -- 25 to 50 mg. of pyridoxine -- "may be helpful in the prevention and treatment of certain types of health problems.
Pyrodixine and Health Conditions
Homocysteine: This is actually an amino acid that has been shown by Dr. Kilmer McCully to be toxic and is implicated as a risk factor in heart disease
when elevated leveles of homocysteine exist. Writes Michael Janson, M.D., in his book, Dr. Janson's New Vitamin Revolution, "There is a signficantly increased risk of heart disease in people
with high blood levels of a metabolite called homocysteine. Serum levels of homocysteine may be more significant than cholesterol levels in predicting the risk of heart disease. Your homocysteine
level is likely to be increased if you do not have enough of the vitamns B-6, B-12, folic acid and betaine (derived from choline). Supplements of these nutrients have been shown to reduce homocysteine levels."
Ellis and pamplin point out that research has demonstrated that low levels of a trio of B vitamins (B-6, B-12 and folic acid) cause an improper degradation of methionine, resulting in elevated
levels of homocysteine. This is toxic to the body and can lead to atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis. this is supported by a study they cited: "In a study matching 304 patients with coronary heart
disease to 231 healthy individuals, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic found the plasma-homocysteine levels to be higher in the heart-disease patients than in the controls. They found no correlation between the elevated
plasma-homcysteine and vitamin B12. However, they did find low pyridoxal-phosphate levels in 10 percent of the heart-disease patients as compared to 2 percent of the controls."
The study investigators concluded that low levels of pyridoxal-phosphate "confers an indoependent risk for heart disease."
Neurological Problems: Lieberman and Bruning point outh that scientific investigations have shown that pyridoxine likely has a greater effect upon the nervous system than
previously theorized. Also, this vitamin is needed by the body to produce neurotransmitters, notably serotonin. When the body is deficient in serotonin and closely related neurotransmitters, conditions such as depression
and sleeplessness can occur. "Although megavitamin therapy for psychiatric symptoms is controversial, many studies indicate an association between B-6 deficiency and emotional illness, including depression and schizophrenia,"
they write. Lieberman and other practitioners believe that, in light of the existing scientific evidence, vitamin B-6 is a useful alternative treatment when certain drugs fail or result in toxicity.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is known as a condition stemming from repetitive stress; "the syndrome occurs when the median nerve that runs through the carpal-tunnel opening in the wrist
gets pinched or pressured from constant reduntdant motions," explain Ellis and Pamplin. Standard medical intervention for CTS typically consists of cortisone injections and/or surgery. Yet, point out Ellis and Pamplin, such intervention can
frequetnly leave those with CTS with a remaining degree of disability -- and still leaves any possible vitamin B-6 need unadressed.
In a 1990 clinical trial, Ellis and Dr. Karl Folkers worked with 22 patients with CTs, some of whom had surgery. The doctors provided the patents with doses of between 50 to 300 mg. daily pyridoxine; this "brought relief to all but one of the
affected 39 hands. This is a cure rate of 97.4 percent, a figure higher than what is usually achieved by surgery alone," he says.
Heinerman pointed to the satisfactory results of another study demonstrating vitamin B-6's efficacy in carpal tunnel sydnrom. Researchers at the University of Michigan employed a survey
of 125 industrial plant workers about their health and diet history. These workers then took nerve conduction studies along with blood tests to identify those with CTS or vitamin B-6 deficiency. "Almost 29 percent of the workers
displayed signs of CTS. A moderately corresponding deficiency in pyridoxine was also noticed," he summarizes.
Lieberman and Bruning add that babies who are given formulas that are low in pyridoxine "have suffered epileptic-like convulsions, weight loss, nervous irritability and stomach disorders. These problems , as well
as other fomrs of childhood epilespy, have been found to respond to B-6 supplemetnation. Autistic children also have been shown to improve when given B-6 along with magnesium."
How Much To Take
The Current Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin B-6 is 2.2 mg. for adult males and 2.0 for adult females. The Optimum Daily Allowance for pyridoxine, interestingly, begins at 25 mg. and
has a ceiling of 300 mg.
Lieberman is a proponetn of Optimum Daily Intake, which is that geared to provide health benefits, rather than to just stave off signs of deficiencies, like the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs).
She explains that based on a scientific review of pyridoxine as well as her own clinical experience, Lieberman recommends: 100-150 mg. for anziety and depression; 50-300 mg. for asthma; 50-500 mg. for
carpal tunnel sydnrome; 100-500 mg. for emotional or physical stress; 100-300 mg. for kidney stones, oxalate; 50-300 mg. for those who use oral contraceptives; 50-300 mg. for PMS, and 100-300 mg. for water retention.
Janason says he usually recommends 100 mg. of vitamin B-6, but he notes that some multis have reduced B-6 doeses because some manufacturers feel the need to pay attention to some reports of neuropathy
induced by consumption of very high doses. "I still think that 100 mg. is quite safe," he says. "Additional B-6 is avaliable as 100-, 250- and 500-mg. capsules or tablets. I usually suggest an additional 250 mg. for PMS and carpal tunnel syndrome.
B-6 may lead to intense dreams and restless sleep when taken at night; it is best to take any extra doses with breakfast."
Lieberman And Bruning explain further that nervous system problems occur only with mega doses of 2,000 to 6,000 mg. of vitamin B-6 daily. Such side effects seem to be reversible when the dosage is discontinued.
As you can see, Vitamin B-6 is important not only for health maintenance, but it has therapeutic value as well. If you are considering taking pyridoxine in a large dose, consult your physician to apprise him or her of
your goals with this nutrient.
This article is reprinted with permission from Vitamin Retailer magazine and is provided for educational purposes only by your local retailer. No part of this
article is intended as medical advice. Always consult your health care provider for any medical problems.