- Posted by DanTomas
Vitamin B6 refers to a family of compounds and is converted in the body to its active form pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP). It is involved in amino acid and homocysteine metabolism, glucose and lipid metabolism, neurotransmitter production and DNA/RNA synthesis.
There is growing evidence that suggest that systemic inflammation underlying most chronic diseases impairs vitamin B6 metabolism. Studies show that plasma PLP levels are inversely correlated with markers for systemic inflammation. This makes B6 of acute interest to those of us that are suffering from manifestations of chronic inflammation like hives and migraines.
Vitamin B6 is also of interest from a longevity perspective as low levels of the vitamin is now linked to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. High levels of homocysteine in the blood (hyperhomocysteinemia) exacerbates damage to blood and lymphatic vessels. A recent study on stroke survivors found that daily supplementation with 2mg of folic acid, 0.5mg of vitamin B12, and 25mg of B6 over 3.4 years resulted in a 28% reduction in mean homocysteine levels. Stroke survivors that suffered impairment had a whopping 43% reduction in homocysteine.
Vitamin B6 is critical for mood stabilization
As we have noted in the psychosomatic protocol for hives and migraines, stress directly causes comorbidities (chronic diseases) of the immune system. Similarly, the association between depressive disorders and disregulation of the HPA axis (the stress response) is well-established.
The coexistence of symptoms of depression and low vitamin B6 status has been reported in several studies. Late-life depression is a common disorder in people that suffer acute illness like hip fractures and stoke. In a study on stroke patients, researchers were able to half the risk of developing a major depressive disorder over a 7.1 year period simply by supplementing with folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6. It is not fully understood how B6 is related to stress and depression, however we know that B6 is necessary for the production of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin. It is therefore believed that deficiency will induce mood changes if not corrected either through a balanced diet or supplementation.
Vitamin B6 is a cofactor of DAO
B6 is a cofactor of diamine oxidase, the histamine degrading enzyme essential to the metabolic protocol. What this means is that this one supplement will aid recovery both by increasing your DAO levels and by helping to stabilize your HPA axis.
Whether to supplement or not
In healthy individuals the answer is no, a balanced diet will provide your necessary intake. If you are looking at B6 from a life extension angle then simply note that high B6 foods include chickpeas, organs meats, and fish. Make hummus salad part of your routine. However, people that are known to be at risk of deficiency should certainly consider supplementation. Groups at rick of vitamin B6 deficiency are individuals with impaired renal function, people with alcohol dependence, and people with autoimmune disorders.
Autoimmune diseases cause low vitamin B6 due to the inflammation process. It is speculated that enzymatic activity is upregulated to reduce oxidative and aldehyde stress leading to increased catabolism of vitamin B6 during inflammation. Therefore if your suffer chronic hives or migraines then you are effectively caught in a feedback loop. Your inflammation decimates your B6 levels, which leads to low DAO, which leads to further inflammation. The bottom line is that you should supplement, but go about it wisely.
How to correctly dose Vitamin B6
At this point it is tempting to order the most potent product on the market. This would be a mistake. The FDA has set the daily recommended value for B6 at 1.7mg (in healthy people). Although in this guide we are looking to correct deficiencies, there are supplements on the market that are mega dosing at up to 500mg (almost 300 times DV). Taken daily over the long term this will swing your B6 levels into excess risking possible nerve damage and skin legions. Steer clear of any B6 product that is described as high strength. The best products are formulated at far more sensible 25mg, and supplementation need only be a few days per week. Note also that 25mg per day was the protocol used in the cited clinical research.