Vitamin B 6 plays a major role in making proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry signals between nerve cells). Because mild deficiency of vitamin B 6 is common, this is one vitamin that is probably worth taking as insurance.

However, there is little evidence that taking vitamin B 6 above nutritional needs offers benefits in the treatment of any particular illnesses, except, possibly, nausea of pregnancy (morning sickness).

Requirements

Vitamin B 6 requirements increase with age. The official US and Canadian recommendations for daily intake are as follows:

  • Infants
    • 0-6 months: 0.1 mg
    • 7-12 months: 0.3 mg
  • Children
    • 1-3 years: 0.5 mg
    • 4-8 years: 0.6 mg
    • 9-13 years: 1.0 mg
  • Males
    • 14-50 years: 1.3 mg
    • 51 years and older: 1.7 mg
  • Females
    • 14-18 years: 1.2 mg
    • 19-50 years: 1.3 mg
    • 51 years and older: 1.5 mg
  • Pregnant Women: 1.9 mg
  • Nursing Women: 2.0 mg
Sources

The National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements offers this list of foods that are high in vitamin B 6:77

Food Serving size Vitamin B 6 content
(milligrams [mg])
% Daily Value
Chickpeas, canned 1 cup 1.1 55
Beef liver, pan fried 3 ounces 0.9 45
Yellow fin tuna, cooked 3 ounces 0.9 45
Sockeye salmon, cooked 3 ounces 0.6 30
Chicken breast, roasted 3 ounces 0.5 25
Fortified breakfast cereal 1 serving 0.5 25
Potatoes, boiled 1 cup 0.4 20
Turkey, roasted 3 ounces 0.4 20
Banana 1 medium 0.4 20
Marinara sauce 1 cup 0.4 20
Ground beef patty, broiled 3 ounces 0.3 15
Waffles, toasted 1 waffle 0.3 15
Bulgur, cooked 1 cup 0.2 10
Cottage cheese, 1% low-fat 1 cup 0.2 10
Winter squash, baked ½ cup 0.2 10
Long-grain white rice 1 cup 0.1 5
Mixed nuts 1 ounce 0.1 5
Seedless raisins ½ cup 0.1 5
Onions, chopped ½ cup 0.1 5
Spinach, boiled ½ cup 0.1 5
Vitamin B 6 Deficiency

Severe deficiencies of vitamin B 6 are rare, but mild deficiencies are extremely common. In a survey of 11,658 adults, 71% of men and 90% of women were found to have diets deficient in B 6.1 Vitamin B 6is the most commonly deficient water-soluble vitamin in the elderly,2and children, too, often don't get enough.3In addition, evidence has been presented that current recommended daily intakes should be increased.4

B 6 deficiency might be worsened by use of hydralazine(for high blood pressure),5penicillamine(used for rheumatoid arthritis and certain rare diseases),6theophylline(an older drug for asthma),7-11MAO inhibitors,12 and the antituberculosis drug isoniazid(INH),13-16 all of which are thought to interfere with B 6 to some degree. Good sources of B 6 include nutritional (torula) yeast, brewer's yeast, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, soybeans, walnuts, lentils, lima beans, buckwheat flour, bananas, and avocados.