We know we need to get certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients through our diet. They're crucial to making sure our bodies are functioning correctly and our immune systems are in good shape. But honestly, they can sometimes be confusing or seem unclear. Vitamin D, vitamin B12, omega-3s, vitamin C, probiotics, zinc, magnesium… I know I need all of these things, but how can I make sure I'm getting enough each day, and how exactly do they help my body?
I've been thinking about this a lot, especially in recent months while we've been dealing with a pandemic and while everyone's been talking about boosting their immune systems. So to investigate further, I wanted to learn more about B vitamins, which are important to have in a healthy diet. We've already covered B12, so I decided to dive deep into vitamin B6. Here's what I found out.
What Is Vitamin B6?
"Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin that your body needs for several functions," explains Valerie Agyeman, RD, a women's health dietitian and founder of Flourish Heights. "Your body cannot produce vitamin B6, so you must obtain it from foods or supplements. Most people get enough vitamin B6 through their diet, but certain populations may be at risk for deficiency. Consuming adequate amounts of vitamin B6 is important for optimal health and may even prevent and manage chronic diseases."
Vitamin B6 plays a role in helping our bodies turn the food we eat into energy, adds registered dietitian Sarah Rueven, MS, RDN, CDN, founder of Rooted Wellness. It's also needed to create red blood cells and neurotransmitters.
Adults aged 19-50 need 1.3 mg of vitamin B6, while women who are pregnant need 1.9 mg, and those who are lactating need 2.0 mg. Some sources of vitamin B6 include poultry, fish (salmon and tuna), starchy vegetables, fruits (bananas), nuts, and fortified cereals. "The bioavailability of vitamin B6 is influenced by the extent and type of processing the food is subjected to," says registered dietitian nutritionist Stephanie Carter, MS, RDN, founder and owner of Carter Hall Lifestyle. "Much of the vitamin originally present in foods can be lost through prolonged heating (especially in canning) as well as with the milling and refining of grains. The vitamin is fairly stable with cooking."