Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6): PMS, The Birth Control Pill-Depression Link, and More

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Vitamin B6 is an essential nutrient that plays a pivotal role in various bodily functions, spanning from metabolism to brain health. Throughout this article, we’ll learn the scientifically validated advantages of Vitamin B6 supplementation, illuminating its potential to promote overall well-being without relying on sensationalism or sales tactics. Whether your goal is to boost energy levels, enhance cognitive function, or simply improve your health, Vitamin B6 could be the key to unlocking your full potential. Let’s embark on this journey of discovery together.

What Is Vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is an indispensable water-soluble vitamin within the B-complex family, crucial for a multitude of physiological processes. This essential nutrient plays a key role in metabolism by aiding in the breakdown and utilization of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It is also instrumental in the production of neurotransmitters, which are critical for normal brain function and mood regulation. Additionally, vitamin B6 supports immune function by contributing to the health of lymphoid organs that make white blood cells, which are central to the body’s defense mechanisms.

Found naturally in a variety of foods such as poultry, fish, bananas, potatoes, and fortified cereals, vitamin B6 is generally plentiful in a well-rounded diet. However, certain groups may require supplementation to meet their nutritional needs, including those with kidney disorders, autoimmune diseases, and some pregnant women, particularly those experiencing severe nausea. In the following sections, we will explore the scientifically proven benefits of vitamin B6, highlighting how it supports overall health and wellbeing, and under what circumstances supplementation might be beneficial.

Vitamin B6 in Mental Health

Vitamin B6 actively supports mental health by aiding in the synthesis of key neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood and cognition. Research links Vitamin B6 deficiency to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline. Supplementing with Vitamin B6 may improve mood and cognitive function, potentially enhancing the effectiveness of certain antidepressant medications. Ensuring adequate intake of Vitamin B6 through diet or supplementation can support overall well-being, but it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new regimen, especially if you have existing mental health conditions.

Are the Benefits of Vitamin B6 ?

  • Supports Brain Health: Vitamin B6 is essential for the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood, sleep, and cognitive function.
  • Boosts Immune Function: Vitamin B6 plays a role in the production of antibodies that help fight off infections and diseases, thereby supporting immune function.
  • Aids in Metabolism: This vitamin is involved in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, helping convert food into energy for the body.
  • Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: Some research suggests that adequate Vitamin B6 intake may help lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
  • Supports Eye Health: Vitamin B6, along with other nutrients like vitamin A and zinc, contributes to maintaining healthy vision and may help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
  • May Improve PMS Symptoms: Some studies suggest that Vitamin B6 supplementation may alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), such as mood swings, bloating, and breast tenderness.
  • Promotes Skin Health: Vitamin B6 helps in the production of collagen, a protein that supports skin elasticity and repair, contributing to healthy skin.
  • Supports Heart Health: Vitamin B6 aids in regulating homocysteine levels, which, when elevated, can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.
  • Alleviates Nausea and Morning Sickness: Pregnant women often use Vitamin B6 supplements to reduce nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness. Medical oversight is critical for all supplements taken in pregnancy. One study showed that taking 25mg of B6 every 8 hours alleviated nausea in pregnant women [PMID: 2047064] A recent review also confirms the effectiveness of B6. [PMID: 36719452]
  • Improves Cognitive Function: Adequate levels of Vitamin B6 may support cognitive function and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline and neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Enhances Mood Stability: Vitamin B6 plays a role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation, potentially helping to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Supports Hormonal Balance: Vitamin B6 may help regulate hormone levels, particularly in women experiencing symptoms related to hormonal imbalances, such as irregular menstrual cycles or hormonal acne.
  • Aids in Red Blood Cell Formation: Vitamin B6 is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body, supporting energy levels and overall vitality.
  • Reduces Inflammation: Some research suggests that Vitamin B6 may have anti-inflammatory properties, which could help alleviate symptoms of inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

The use of birth control pills has been linked to the depletion of vitamin B6, a nutrient vital for mental health due to its role in neurotransmitter synthesis. Vitamin B6 is crucial for creating neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood and emotional well-being. When birth control pills reduce the levels of this vitamin, it can lead to mood disturbances and other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. This deficiency might be particularly pronounced in women who are already susceptible to these conditions.

Supplementing Vitamin B6 Alone vs. B Complex

Using a balanced B Complex supplement is generally recommended because it provides a comprehensive blend of all eight essential B vitamins, which work synergistically to support overall health. Taking a B Complex ensures that none of the B vitamins are disproportionately high or low, preventing imbalances that might occur when one is supplemented individually. Since single nutrient deficiencies are fairly rare, a B Complex supplement simplifies nutritional support by covering the needs for all B vitamins in one formulation.

However, there are specific cases where taking a separate vitamin B6 supplement might be more appropriate. For example, if a blood test shows a deficiency in vitamin B6, or if certain conditions such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), specific types of anemia, or nausea during pregnancy are present, a healthcare provider might recommend a higher dose of vitamin B6.

Additionally, individuals taking certain medications like isoniazid for tuberculosis or some anti-epileptic drugs may experience a depletion in vitamin B6 levels, necessitating a separate supplement to replenish these levels without altering the balance of other B vitamins. People with restricted diets or unique nutritional requirements might also benefit from supplementing specifically with vitamin B6. However, due to the risks associated with excessive intake of vitamin B6, such as potential nerve damage, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any supplement regimen, ensuring the dosage is safe and effective for your specific health needs.

RDA and Tolerable Upper Limits for Vitamin B6

Here’s a table listing the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) and the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for Vitamin B6 across various age groups:

Age GroupRDA for Vitamin B6 (mg/day)Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for Vitamin B6 (mg/day)
Children (1-3 years)0.530
Children (4-8 years)0.640
Children (9-13 years)1.060
Teens (14-18 years)1.3 (males), 1.2 (females)80
Adults (19-50 years)1.3 (males), 1.3 (females)100
Adults (51 years and older)1.7 (males), 1.5 (females)100
Pregnant Women1.9100
Breastfeeding Women2.0100

Food Sources of Vitamin B6

Food SourceAmount of Vitamin B6 per Serving
Chicken Breast (cooked)0.5 mg per 3 ounces
Turkey (cooked)0.6 mg per 3 ounces
Salmon (cooked)0.5 mg per 3 ounces
Tuna (canned in water)0.6 mg per 3 ounces
Beef (cooked)0.5 mg per 3 ounces
Potatoes (baked)0.6 mg per medium potato
Banana0.4 mg per medium banana
Spinach (cooked)0.4 mg per 1/2 cup
Avocado0.4 mg per half avocado
Sunflower seeds0.4 mg per ounce
This table provides a snapshot of some common food sources of Vitamin B6 and the amount of Vitamin B6 present per serving. Keep in mind that actual nutrient content may vary based on factors such as cooking method and food processing.

Toxicity With Excessive B6 Supplements

Vitamin B6 is unique among water-soluble vitamins because it can be stored in the body, primarily in muscle tissue but also to a lesser extent in the liver. This storage capability means that excessive intake of vitamin B6, particularly through supplements, can lead to overdosing and toxicity.

Symptoms of vitamin B6 toxicity can include nerve damage leading to numbness and muscle weakness, and in severe cases, it may cause neurological issues such as difficulty coordinating movement (ataxia). Such instances of toxicity are typically seen when taking high doses of vitamin B6 supplements, far exceeding the recommended dietary allowance. This is often seen in women using high doses to manage conditions such as premenstrual syndrome or certain neuropathies without medical supervision. It underscores the importance of adhering to recommended dosages and consulting healthcare professionals before beginning any high-dose vitamin supplementation.

Are Vitamin B6 Supplements Safe?

Vitamin B6 is generally recognized as safe when consumed within recommended dietary guidelines. The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine has established a tolerable upper intake level (UL) for Vitamin B6, which is 100 milligrams per day for adults. This upper limit helps prevent the risk of adverse effects associated with excessive Vitamin B6 intake, such as nerve damage. However, it’s essential to note that adverse effects from Vitamin B6 supplementation are rare and typically only occur with significantly high doses taken over an extended period. For most people, consuming Vitamin B6 from food sources or through standard supplement doses is safe and well-tolerated. As with any supplement, it’s advisable to follow recommended dosage guidelines and consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new supplement regimen, particularly for individuals with pre-existing medical conditions or those taking medication.

Medication Interactions with Vitamin B6

  • Isoniazid (INH): This medication, used to treat tuberculosis, may reduce the body’s levels of Vitamin B6, leading to a deficiency. Supplementing with Vitamin B6 is often recommended for individuals taking isoniazid to prevent or mitigate potential deficiency symptoms such as neuropathy.
  • Levodopa: Levodopa, a medication commonly prescribed for Parkinson’s disease, may reduce the effectiveness of Vitamin B6 supplements. It is advisable to take Vitamin B6 supplements at a different time than levodopa to avoid interference with its absorption.
  • Penicillamine: Penicillamine, used to treat certain medical conditions like Wilson’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis, may reduce the body’s levels of Vitamin B6. Supplementing with Vitamin B6 is often recommended for individuals taking penicillamine to prevent or alleviate potential deficiency symptoms.
  • Phenytoin (Dilantin): Phenytoin, an anticonvulsant medication, may interfere with the body’s ability to convert Vitamin B6 into its active form. Supplementing with Vitamin B6 may be necessary for individuals taking phenytoin to maintain adequate levels of this essential nutrient.
  • Oral Contraceptives: Some oral contraceptive medications may reduce the body’s levels of Vitamin B6. Supplementing with Vitamin B6 may be beneficial for individuals taking oral contraceptives to prevent or mitigate potential deficiency symptoms.

Supplement Interactions with Vitamin B6

  • Magnesium: High doses of magnesium supplements may interfere with the absorption of Vitamin B6. It is recommended to take Vitamin B6 supplements separately from magnesium supplements to avoid potential interactions.
  • Zinc: Zinc supplements taken in high doses may decrease the absorption of Vitamin B6. To prevent interference, it is advisable to take Vitamin B6 supplements separately from zinc supplements.
  • Iron: Iron supplements may reduce the absorption of Vitamin B6 when taken together. To maximize absorption of both nutrients, it is recommended to take them at different times of the day.
  • Protein Supplements: Some protein supplements contain high levels of certain amino acids, which can compete with Vitamin B6 for absorption. It is advisable to take Vitamin B6 supplements separately from protein supplements to ensure optimal absorption.
  • Folic Acid (Vitamin B9): High doses of folic acid supplements may mask Vitamin B6 deficiency symptoms. It is important to maintain an appropriate balance of both nutrients to support overall health.
  • Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 supplements taken in high doses may interfere with the metabolism of Vitamin B6. It is advisable to maintain a balanced intake of both vitamins to prevent potential interactions.

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Vitamin B6 100mg by Vital Nutrients

Vitamin B6 is converted into the main enzyme responsible for amino acids & protein metabolism. The central nervous system also relies on Vitamin B6 in the production of serotonin, a critical neurotransmitter
Take 1 capsule daily, preferably with food. 

Amount Per 1 Capsule Serving
Vitamin B6
 … 50mg (as Pyridoxine HCl and Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate)

B-Complex by Vital Nutrients

 Supports a healthy nervous system*
• Maintains healthy protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism*
• Promotes the conversion of homocysteine*
• Premium Vegan Formulation

B-Complex is used in the metabolism of protein and fats, helps maintain muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract and helps convert carbohydrates into energy.* B Complex also supports healthy nerve cells and helps promote the conversion of homocysteine, thus supporting heart health.* B-Complex is an important tonifier in times of mild stress and fatigue.* Suggested Use:  Take 1 or 2 capsules daily, or as recommended by your healthcare professional.

Amount Per 1 vegan capsule Serving:
Thiamin  … 100mg (Vitamin B1) (as Thiamine HCl)
Riboflavin … 35mg (Vitamin B2) (as Vitamin B2 and Riboflavin 5′-Phosphate) 
Niacin … 75mg (Vitamin B3) (as Niacinaminde)
Vitamin B6 … 40mg (as Pyridoxine HCl and Pyridoxal 5′-Phosphate)
Folate  … 680mcg DFE (400mg folic acid) (as calcium L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate, Metafolin®)
Vitamin B12  … 500mcg (as Methylcobalamin)
Biotin  … 400mcg (Vitamin B7)
Pantothenic Acid ) … 200mg (Vitamin B5) (as Calcium Pantothenate

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

To Sum It Up

Incorporating Vitamin B6 supplements into your routine can offer numerous health benefits. From supporting brain health and immune function to aiding in metabolism and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, Vitamin B6 plays a crucial role in overall well-being. Additionally, Vitamin B6 may improve mood stability, alleviate symptoms of PMS, and promote healthy skin. By ensuring adequate intake of this essential nutrient, you can optimize your health and vitality.

This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.

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