Vitamin B6 - Do Kids Need Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)?
Posted on June 04 2021,
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin that belongs to the group of B-complex vitamins. What does vitamin B6 do? Vitamin B6 has several key roles in maintaining your overall health. It is a vital coenzyme involved in more than 100 reactions in your body, especially in metabolizing macronutrients, including carbohydrates, protein, and fats. It also helps in the production of neurotransmitters and red blood cells. (1)
Vitamin B6 is present in many foods, like chickpeas, cooked salmon and potatoes. It is also available in the form of dietary supplements, like vitamins and multivitamins. Vitamin B6 is essential for multiple functions of physical and mental health, including brain health, mood regulation, and vision. It is possible for most to maintain appropriate levels of vitamin B6 through diet and supplementation, although deficiency can occur for those who have a poor diet or who might have other conditions affecting their ability to absorb vitamin B6. Common signs of deficiency can include confusion, irritability, impaired immunity, body weakness, anemia and skin problems. (2)
How Does Vitamin B6 Function in Your Child’s Body?
Most of the vitamin B6 that enters your body is absorbed in your jejunum (the second part of your small intestine). First, the phosphorylated form of B6 is converted into a dephosphorylated form. Then, vitamin B6 is free to be absorbed by passive transport in the walls of your small intestine. (1)
Vitamin B6 can help ease many obstacles that children might face in energy, mood and focus. It supports immune functions on the cellular level, helping to protect your kids from various illnesses they might come into contact with at school or when playing with other children. Vitamin B6’s role in enhancing melatonin production also makes it useful for sleep and stress management. Additionally, vitamin B6 has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can prevent general weakness/fatigue and even arthritis in later years. Several studies have revealed that vitamin B6 is helpful in preventing heart disease, both by regulating blood pressure and by reducing “bad” cholesterol and increasing the “good” cholesterol in your body. The many roles that vitamin B6 plays in aiding development and overall well being as well as preventing future health challenges make it an essential nutrient to include in your child’s diet.
Why Do Children Need Pyridoxine?
Your child needs B complex vitamins for proper growth and development. Vitamins are crucial for not only physical health, but mental health as well. There are many reasons why vitamin B6 is important. Vitamin B6 provides several health benefits, including protections for both the brain and the heart.
Here are some important vitamin B6 health benefits:
- Improves mood
- Decreases symptoms of depression
- Supports brain health
- Maintains healthy blood cells
- Promotes eye health and prevents the risk of eye disease
- Improves symptoms of Autism
Improves mood and symptoms of depression: Vitamin B6 helps regulate your mood. This vitamin is involved in the production of neurotransmitters that control your emotions, including dopamine, serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). (3)
Vitamin B6 is also responsible for reducing abnormally high levels of amino acids (homocysteine), which is strongly associated with psychiatric issues, depression in children, and symptoms of depression in teens. Research has found that depressive individuals usually have a low level of vitamin B6 in their blood. One study revealed that individuals taking vitamins B9 (Folate), B12, and B6 were less prone to depression than those who did not. Additionally, a review of several studies found that supplementing with vitamins B9, B12 and B6 improved brain functions and reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It is wise to consult with a medical doctor and mental health professional to determine how to treat childhood depression. (4)
Supports brain health: Vitamin B6 is essential for proper brain development, growth, and functioning. This vitamin promotes peaceful sleep in kids by enhancing the production of melatonin in the brain. Research reveals that B6 also supports cognitive abilities in children and may prevent memory loss in old age. (1)
Maintains healthy blood cells: Several studies depicted that inadequate intake of vitamin B6 is linked with anemia, especially in pregnant women and women who menstruate. This is because vitamin B6 aids in your body’s production of hemoglobin, which supplies nutrients and oxygen to your body tissues. A low level of hemoglobin leads to lower levels of oxygen being transported to your cells, which can lead to anemia.
In one study, 56 pregnant women were given 75mg of vitamin B6 daily and showed significantly improved symptoms of anemia. Another study reported that infants who took vitamin B6 orally show reduced risk of an inherited type of anemia, known as sideroblastic anemia. (5)
Promotes eye health and prevents the risk of eye disease: Vitamin B6 supports eye health and prevents the risk of eye problems in people of all ages. Vitamin B6 is especially beneficial in preventing eye issues later on, like age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Research has shown that abnormally high blood levels of homocysteine can contribute to AMD in senior years. One study found that 5400 health professionals taking vitamin B6, B9, and B12 supplements had reduced risk of AMD by 35-40% as compared to the control group. (6)
Improves symptoms of Autism: Scientific evidence shows that the combined intake of vitamin B6 and magnesium can improve the symptoms of Autism in children. In particular, it has been proven with statistical significance to aid in physiological functions and interpersonal skills in a children with Autism. (7)
What Is Vitamin B6 Deficiency?
What causes B6 deficiency? Vitamin B6 deficiency usually occurs alongside low levels of other B vitamins, such as B12 and B9. Common causes of vitamin B6 deficiency include: (1)
- Malabsorption diseases, such as ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease
- Low intake of foods rich in vitamin B6, such as beef, fish, poultry, and whole grains
- Genetic problems that cause B6 deficiency, like homocystinuria (a condition in which your body is not able to metabolize methionine)
What are the symptoms of low vitamin B6? Vitamin B6 deficiency more frequently occurs in underdeveloped, under-nourished and impoverished populations due to limited access to healthy whole foods like fish, beef, and whole grains. However, vitamin B6 deficiency can occur due to various other reasons, and below are some major vitamin B6 deficiency symptoms in your kid:
- Weak immune system in child
- Confusion and irritability
- Body weakness
- Skin problems
Weak immune system symptoms: Vitamin B6 is involved in the production of your immune cells, including lymphocytes and interleukin-2. Studies have found that inadequate intake of B6 affects several processes of the immune system in your body, including cell-mediated and humoral immunity as well as differentiation of lymphocytes. Therefore, deficiency of vitamin B6 can weaken your child’s immune system, leaving your child more prone to disease. (8)
Confusion and irritability: Vitamin B6 is important for several brain functions, and its deficiency can lead to neurological problems in children. Research shows that children with increased irritability, as well as poor cognitive and interpersonal skills are commonly deficient in vitamin B6. (9)
Body weakness: B vitamins, including B6, play a big role in energy production in your body. Extensive research has revealed in nutritional screenings in children that body weakness, fatigue and low energy are commonly connected to deficiency of B complex vitamins, especially of B6, B9, and B12. (9)
Anemia: Vitamin B6 is essential in the production of red blood cells, and its deficiency can lead to anemia, including childhood anemia. Research has indicated that anemic individuals are commonly deficient in three of the major B-complex vitamins: B12, B9, and B6. It is important to consult with your child's pediatrician to better understand childhood anemia symptoms. (1)
Skin problems: Clinical symptoms of severe vitamin B6 deficiency include several skin problems. Many studies have revealed that dermatitis (skin irritation), glossitis (inflammation of the tongue), and cheilosis (cracking and scaling of lip and mouth corners) are common responses to vitamin B6 deficiency. (1)
How Much Vitamin B6 Do Your Kids Need per Day?
Recommended dosage for vitamin B6 is provided in the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) made by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB). DRI defines the optimal amount of nutrients that a person requires per day.
As a parent, you might also be asking, "How much vitamin B6 should I take daily?" Well, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin B6 is broken down into daily amounts for both children and adults below: (1)
|Age||Recommended Daily Amount in milligrams (mg)|
|0-6 months||0.1 mg|
|7-12 months||0.3 mg|
|1-3 years||0.5 mg|
|4-8 years||0.6 mg|
|9-13 years||1 mg*|
|14-18 years||1.3 mg (males)/1.2 mg (females)*|
|19-50 years||1.3 mg*|
|51+ years||1/7 mg (males)/1.5 mg (females)*|
*Amounts may vary for individuals who are pregnant and lactating
Should You Give Vitamin B6 Supplements to Your Child?
Your child’s daily dose of vitamin B6 can be fulfilled by dietary sources, such as through eating vitamin B6 in food. However, in the case of those who have dietary restrictions, a poor diet, or deficiency caused by other conditions, supplements are a great option to make sure your family is meeting their nutritional needs.
Vitamin B6 supplements are available in the form of capsules, liquid, and tablets. The absorption of B6 from supplements is similar to that from dietary sources. In the United States, about 28 to 36% of the population uses vitamin B6 supplements to meet their nutritional needs. It is always recommended that you consult with your physician before administering supplements to your child.
Foods With Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is found in a wide range of natural foods. Major dietary sources of this vitamin include potatoes, fish, beef, starchy vegetables, fruits, poultry, and organ meats (like liver and kidney). In the United States, people most often get this vitamin from beef, fortified cereals, non-citrus fruits, and starchy vegetables. Research has suggested that you can get up to 75% of daily recommended vitamin B6 by consuming a mixed diet.
Below are several foods that contain a healthy amount of Vitamin B6. (1)
|Food Name||Serving size||Milligrams (mg) per serving|
|Chickpeas, canned||1 cup||1.1|
|Beef liver, pan fried||3 oz||0.9|
|Tuna, fresh, cooked||3 oz||0.9|
|Salmon, cooked||3 oz||0.6|
|Chicken breast, roasted||3 oz||0.5|
|Fortified breakfast cereal||1 small bowl||0.4|
|Potatoes, boiled||1 cup||0.4|
|Turkey meat, roasted||3 oz||0.4|
|Lean ground meat||3 oz||0.3|
|Frozen waffles, toasted||1 waffle||0.3|
|Squash, baked||1/2 cup||0.2|
|Tofu, raw||1/2 cup||0.1|
Risks and Side Effects of Pyridoxine
‘Moderation in all things’ rings true with most nutrients. The maximum daily intake of vitamin B6 for children is suggested as follows: (1)
|Age||Maximum daily intake in milligrams (mg)|
|1-3 years||30 mg|
|4-8 years||40 mg|
|9-13 years||60 mg|
Taking vitamin B6 above these amounts can cause diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, headache, dizziness, and stomach pain. Moreover, the oral intake of 500mg or more of vitamin B6 can be unsafe, and there are federal regulations guiding the way that vitamin B6 is administered. For example, the intravenous administration of this vitamin is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Furthermore, vitamin B6 administered through shots/injections can lead to muscle damage. Simply taking a multivitamin or vitamin-specific supplement is a sufficient and regulated way to get the appropriate amount without overdoing it.
One study revealed that excess use of vitamin B6 supplements can cause Ataxia (loss of muscle control and coordination), painful skin lesions, numbness, photosensitivity (sensitivity to sunlight), decreased ability to sense extreme temperature and pain, nausea, and heartburn. It is important to follow the daily Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin B6 for your child’s age to prevent these risks and side effects. Consulting with a doctor or health professional is always the safest route to ensuring the appropriate amount of vitamins/supplements for your family. (1)
Vitamin B6 is an important B-complex vitamin, aiding in several processes in the body that contribute to mental and physical health. Some of its many benefits include brain health, heart health, a strong immune system, stress management, mood regulation, and improved sleep. A lack of this vitamin in your diet can cause several problems, such as skin issues, weakness, and irritability.
Vitamin B6 can be found in several food sources, and some vitamin B6 rich foods are beef, fish, bananas, potatoes, poultry, nuts, beans, and whole grains. Supplementing your child’s diet with vitamin B6, or even using gummy multivitamins formulated for kids, is also a surefire way to ensure that your child is getting enough of the best nutrients that contribute to their overall well being. It is possible to experience side effects from having too much of this vitamin, and it is always recommended that you consult with your doctor or a healthcare professional to establish the most beneficial dietary routine for your family’s specific needs.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not use this information for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.