From generation to generation, we have heard from our parents and grandparents that the absence of vitamins in our diet can trigger health problems, while adequate consumption of them contributes to our well-being. Guess what: they are right!
Vitamins are very important substances for the performance of bodily functions. They act in the transformation of energy, act on different systems and protect the body by supporting immunological responses.
However, in this text, we are going to talk about one of the B vitamins, which is involved in a series of essential chemical reactions for the proper functioning of our body: vitamin B6!
What is vitamin B6?
The story began in 1938, when researchers discovered that there was a substance other than riboflavin (vitamin B2) that caused skin disease in rats and called it vitamin B6. At the time, they studied how this vitamin was formed and called it pyridoxine.
Today, we already know that vitamin B6 is found in three biological forms: pyridoxine, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine. Of these compounds, pyridoxine is the most stable. We also know that it is an essential nutrient for humans, acting in the bloodstream.
In the body, pyridoxine is transformed into a substance called pyridoxal phosphate. This substance helps about 60 enzymes function properly, many of which are involved in the process of transforming amino acids and proteins into nutrients that the body can use.
What are the health advantages of vitamin B6?
Vitamin B6 is very important because it brings many benefits to our health, such as: reducing the risk of heart disease, helping the nervous system and the immune system to function well. Additionally, it can help relieve headaches and nausea. Below, check out a list of virtues that vitamin B6 offers to the body:
- It actively participates in the brain and has relevance in metabolism and hormonal function.
- It helps in the production of neurotransmitters, such as histamine, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which help the brain function well.
- It contributes to the breakdown of amino acids and, as a result, produces substances that are important for the creation of energy and the formation of proteins, fats and other components in our body.
- Because it is closely linked to the synthesis of organic acids, vitamin B6 is a key player in facilitating the absorption of minerals.
- It helps control the chemical reactions of tryptophan, a type of protein, preventing the formation of substances dangerous to the body and thus protecting it from possible damage.
- Prevents inflammation, as when vitamin B6 levels are low in the blood, it can cause an increase in inflammatory substances called cytokines.
- Promotes antioxidant action by fighting free radicals that cause muscle fatigue, for example.
In addition to what has already been mentioned, research shows that a sufficient amount of vitamin B6, together with vitamin B12, can help prevent osteoporosis in the elderly. This is because a lack of these vitamins can increase the amount of homocysteine in the blood (an amino acid associated with heart disease), leading to reduced bone strength in both men and women.
What are the risks of vitamin B6 deficiency?
When our body does not receive enough vitamin B6, it can cause many problems, such as changes in the skin and mucous membranes, as well as disorders in the nervous system that make us feel sad or anxious, have seizures and anemia. Furthermore, it can harm growth.
During pregnancy, severe vitamin B6 deficiency can cause a deterioration in the newborn’s mental capacity. All forms of pyridoxine have low toxicity, but in high doses they can cause severe neural damage and serious side effects.
Without the presence of vitamin B6, the body cannot produce enough amino acids, which impairs the proper formation of proteins.
What are the sources of vitamin B6?
As you already know, there are three different forms of vitamin B6, which are pyridoxine, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine. These forms are present in foods of animal and vegetable origin, generally linked to proteins.
The pyridoxine form is more common in plants, while the other two forms are more commonly found in animal products. When adding vitamin B6 to foods, supplements and medicines, pyridoxine hydrochloride is generally used.
The main foods rich in vitamin B6 are brewer’s yeast, liver and other offal, chicken meat, whole grains, sunflower seeds, legumes (soy, peanuts, beans), poultry, fish, fruits (banana, tomato, avocado ) and vegetables (spinach).
In conclusion, like other vitamins, vitamin B6 is essential for our body. It plays a fundamental role in several metabolic functions of our body, such as the formation of neurotransmitters and proteins. Its adequate consumption is associated with a series of health benefits, such as preventing cardiovascular diseases and reducing the risk of osteoporosis in the elderly.
Furthermore, vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to a series of health problems, such as anemia, sleep disorders and changes in the skin and mucous membranes. Therefore, it is important to include foods rich in this vitamin in your diet or consider vitamin B6 supplementation, always under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Whoever loves takes care!