One of the main vitamin B6 benefits includes the production of heme, a component of hemoglobin that transports oxygen. Vitamin B6 is required for the proper functioning of the brain, for the metabolism of proteins, maintaining optimal level of blood sugar etc. It is also known to prevent the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases. Vitamin B6 also alleviates the symptoms of PMS, mood swings, depression etc. Though vitamin B6 deficiency is rare in nature, some cases have been reported.
Vitamin B6 Deficiency Causes
Vitamin B6 can be obtained naturally from the food we consume. Some of the foods rich in vitamin B6 include soybeans, sunflower seeds, walnuts, wheat, bananas, chicken, salmon etc. Vitamin B6 plays a vital role in the synthesis of carbohydrates. Raw vegetables and fruits are a rich source of vitamin B6 since cooking destroys this vitamin which is present in its natural form. A low intake of this essential nutrient can result in deficiency. Some other causes of this health condition, which may be caused if the body fails to absorb this vitamin, are listed below:
- One of the most common causes of this deficiency is severe malnutrition, due to lack of proper food.
- Another causative factor of deficiency is persistent diarrhea. Due to this condition, the body is unable to retain and store essential nutrients.
- Interaction of drugs like contraceptive pills may disrupt metabolism resulting in the deficiency of this vitamin.
- Excessive intake of alcohol and smoking can destroy the body's tendency to store vitamin B6.
- Other causes include genetic disorders, diseases of the liver, starvation etc.
The signs of deficiency of vitamin B6 may vary from person to person, according to the age and severity of the deficiency. Since this nutrient deficiency is uncommon in nature, the signs and symptoms often tend to be overlooked.
- One of the most dominant symptoms in adults is unexplained weight gain (due to water retention in the body) or weight loss.
- The visible signs of this deficiency are dry skin, occurrence of rashes or sores, which are red in appearance and cause itching. Cracks on the lips, corners of the mouth and tongue can also be noticed.
- Fatigue, general body weakness, irritability etc. are also a few complaints of individuals who are suffering from this health disorder.
- Some individuals may also complain of metal problems like insomnia, paranoia, depression and mood swings. They may also get easily frustrated or agitated.
- Other symptoms of this vitamin deficiency in adults is ADD (attention deficit disorder), heart palpitations, loss of libido (in men), indigestion and tingling sensation in the arms and legs etc.
- Children suffering from a deficiency of vitamin B6 tend to suffer from anemia, stunted or improper growth, seizures etc.
Vitamin B6 is required for the proper functioning of the nervous system, hence, it is essential to eat foods that are rich in vitamin B6. There are also many vitamin supplements available in the market to fulfill the nutritional requirement. But these supplements must be taken only after consulting a health care provider or it may result in vitamin B6 toxicity, which can be harmful. It is also advisable to lead a healthy lifestyle and quit smoking and drinking to avoid this condition from becoming worse.
Vitamin B6 deficiency or any other vitamin deficiency can be corrected by taking a balanced diet and nutritional supplements, under the guidance of a physician, to maintain the levels of nutrients in the body.