This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my affiliate policy.
Vitamin B6 Deficiency Symptoms
B6 deficiency is not very common in the general population, however, in those with Pyroluria/Pyrrole Disorder, it’s one of the most common deficiencies found. If you check out the common symptoms of pyrrole disorder you’ll see a deficiency in B6 is behind a lot of them.
Why are people with Pyrrole disorder deficient in B6?
Every single person makes pyrroles as a by-product of the conversion of iron into haemoglobin, but if the liver’s P450 enzyme pathway is faulty (as is common in pyroluria) then there is a higher amount of these toxic metabolites/by-products produced.
These toxic metabolites then bind to B6 and Zinc, or rather, the liver binds B6 and zinc to the pyrroles to make them safe to leave the body. It is the liver’s job to bind toxins of all sorts to help them safely out of the body.
Toxic metabolites are often bound to particular amino acids but for this toxin, the liver uses B6 and zinc. Therefore, people with pyrrole disorder use A LOT of B6.
A vitamin B6 deficiency can over time cause symptoms including:
- Changes in mood, such as irritability, anxiety, and depression
- Muscle pains
- Low energy, or fatigue
- Worsening of PMS symptoms
- Worsening symptoms of anemia
Because vitamin B6 is so important for nerve function, a vitamin B6 deficiency is linked most commonly with neuropsychiatric disorders, including seizures, migraines, chronic pain and mood disorders like depression.
Other studies have indicated that poor vitamin B6 status is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Other research shows that vitamin B6 deficiency is more common among older people, with the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia increasing as someone ages and their level of vitamin B6 drops. (1)
What is Vitamin B6 and what is it good for?
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of the vitamins included in the vitamin B complex family. Vitamin B6 has several derivatives, including pyridoxal, pyridoxal 5-phosphate and pyridoxamine.
All B vitamins, including vitamin B6, play an important role in a range of physical and psychological functions. They are most known for helping to maintain a healthy metabolism, nerve function, liver function, skin health, eye health, as well as help to boost levels of energy.
Vitamin B6 is used by the body every single day since it plays a part in such major functions including movement, memory, energy expenditure and blood flow. Therefore, a vitamin B6 deficiency can show up in many different symptoms, some only temporary but others more serious. Vitamin B6 helps the body to maintain a healthy nervous system, to make hemoglobin that carries oxygen in red blood cells throughout the body, to provide energy from the food that we eat, to balance blood sugar levels, to act as a natural pain treatment, to boost mood, and also to create antibodies that our immune system uses to protect us. Yes, it’s that vital.
Yes, it’s that vital.
So we’ve established what B6 and why it’s important so how can people with pyrrole disorder build their stores of B6?
Foods Rich in B6
Your first stop for raising B6 levels should always be from your diet – taking supplements is always the backup plan, especially with children who are notoriously difficult to get supplements into. Here is a list of some of the foods you can incorporate to naturally supplement B6 intake:
- Turkey Breast — 3 ounces: 0.7 milligrams
- Grass-Fed Beef — 3 ounces beef tenderloin: 0.5 milligrams
- Pinto Beans — 1 cup cooked: 0.4 milligrams
- Avocado — 1 raw: 0.4 milligrams
- Chicken Breast — ½ one breast: 0.3 milligrams
- Blackstrap Molasses — 2 tablespoons: 0.26 milligrams
- Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans — 1 cup cooked: 0.2 milligrams
- Amaranth Grain — 1 cup cooked: 0.2 milligrams
- Rice Bran – Rice bran contains the most vitamin B6 with 4.07mg per 100g serving and can make a nice breakfast cereal topped with one of the new blended coconut rice milks or almonds milks if no nut allergies and you aren’t on a grain free diet.
- Dried Herbs and Spices – Although dried herbs and spices are rarely used in large portions, adding in a few extra pinches to all your sauces, soups, and stews is a great way to get more vitamin B6 into your diet. Chilli powder contains the most vitamin B6 with 3.67mg of vitamin B6 per 100g. Paprika has 0.28mg per tablespoon, garlic powder 0.22 per tablespoon, dried tarragon, ground sage, dried spearmint, basil, chives, turmeric, bay leaves, rosemary, dill, onion powder, oregano, and marjoram (all around 0.1-0.2mg per tablespoon).
- Pistachios – are a delicious snack and a great addition to salads. 100 grams of raw pistachios will provide 1.7mg of vitamin B6. Roasted pistachios will provide 1.27mg per 100 gram
- Garlic provides a host of health benefits and is also a great source of vitamin B6. Raw garlic is a great base to salad dressings, and also makes a good condiment. 100 grams of raw garlic provides 1.235mg of vitamin B6, 0.04mg per clove or teaspoon.
- Liver– is a vitamin-rich food that is most commonly found in the form of pâtés and sausages. Most any kind of liver provides a lot of vitamin B6, but turkey liver provides the most with 1.04mg in a 100 gram serving, or 0.86mg in an average turkey liver. Beef liver provides 1.03mg of vitamin B6 per 100 gram serving. All organ meats are rich in B6. I know you are probably thing GROSS and my kids will never eat it. Hide it (from them and yourself), grind it into your mince mixes and anywhere else you can think of. Your body will thank you.
- Fish (Tuna, Salmon, and Cod) Fish is a heart healthy food and a good source of protein. Yellow-fin Tuna provides the most vitamin B6 with 1.04mg per 100g serving. Atlantic salmon provides 0.94mg per 100 gram serving, 1.45mg in half a fillet.
- Sunflower and Sesame Seeds (e.g. as Tahini) Sunflower and Sunflower are great as an addition to salads, as well as a snack on their own. Sunflower seeds provide 0.81mg of vitamin B6 per 100 gram serving, or 1.1mg per cup. Whole roasted sesame seeds provide 0.8mg per 100 gram serving, 1.1mg per cup. Sesame butter, or tahini, will provide 0.15mg of vitamin B6 per 100 gram serving, 0.04mg.
- Pork Tenderloin (Lean) Lean Pork Tenderloin, also a zinc rich food, provides the most vitamin B6 when cooked roasted. Pork tenderloin contains 0.74mg of vitamin B6 per 100 gram serving. Other grass fed meat is also rich in B6
- Hazelnuts – Dry roasted hazelnuts provide 0.62mg of vitamin B6 per 100 gram serving.
- Egg yolk – especially raw is a good source of B6 providing 0.05mg per egg
*This post contains affiliate links
Supplementing B6 can be a little complicated. Many people (especially those prescribed compounded supplements) report side effects from taking B6 supplements. Having a faulty P450 pathway means that there are some vitamins and minerals that the liver cannot convert to the active form properly like B6.
It’s often recommended that people with pyrrole take the activated form of B6 which is P5P or pyridoxal 5-phosphate as it can be better tolerated.
It’s important to work with your health care practitioner to find the best form of B6 supplementation for you. It’s usually best to start slow and build up your dose so as not to overwhelm your body by taking too much. I know that a lot of practitioners like to prescribe compounded supplements – but my recommendation after going through this with all of my kids is to start off with the P5P as a separate supplement until you find the right dosage.
Otherwise, you can waste a lot of money in compounded supplements that you can’t take because they make you feel worse.
Need supplies? In the U.S. check out Thrive Market
In Australia Check out Sprout Market
Thanks for this helpful info. I just found out I have Pyroluria and am trying to figure out how/what to supplement. I can’t tolerate B vitamins well either. Can you really get enough B6 from food? Do you know if a p5p liquid is available somewhere?
Hi Emily – it can be difficult to get all you need from food if your deficiency is severe but it certainly doesn’t hurt to try and get as much as you can from your diet. I found this liquid B6 – haven’t personally tried it http://amzn.to/2p0emnO