There are eight members of the B-vitamin family, and each of them plays a very important role in your body’s internal functions. While the B-vitamins work best when taken together, each individual B-vitamin is also vitally important to your overall health and wellbeing.
Today, we’re going to look at vitamin B-6, what roles it plays in your body, and five natural sources that will help you get the B-6 you need from the foods you eat.
The Role of Vitamin B-6 in Your Body
B-6—also called pyridoxine—is a water-soluble vitamin found in many of the foods we eat. Water-soluble vitamins are easily dissolved in water, making them quickly available for use in the cells and tissues. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins like B and C are not stored in the body for future use. This means you must get more of the vitamins from the foods you eat daily.
B-6 plays a crucial role in both your physical and psychological health by assisting your body to accomplish the following:
- Produce healthy red blood cells
- Metabolize carbohydrates
- Produce neurotransmitters in your brain
- Liver detoxification
- Prevent inflammatory conditions throughout the body
- Mood booster
- Natural painkiller
- Regulate blood pressure
- Decrease asthma occurrences
- Regulate sleep cycles
5 Foods to Eat to Get Enough Vitamin B-6
Fortunately, vitamin B-6 is found in a wide variety of foods—both plant-based and animal-based. By eating a well-rounded diet of whole foods, you can easily satisfy your daily requirements of B-6.
- Leafy Green Vegetables
Cooked and raw leafy greens like spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, Swiss chard, beet greens, kale, and mustard greens pack a walloping nutritional punch. Add them to salads or cook them into savory side dishes to get a healthy dose of B-6.
- Beef, Turkey, and Chicken
Grass-fed beef and the white meat in turkey and chicken have the most B-6, although dark meat also has good levels of the vitamin.
Seared tuna steaks, raw sushi tuna, or canned tuna are all good sources of vitamin B-6.
- Cruciferous Vegetables
While leafy greens (above) are part of the cruciferous family, other members of the family are also high in vitamin B-6. Cabbage, Napa cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower boast high B-6 levels.
- Nuts and Seeds
Sunflower seeds and pistachio nuts lead the pack in B-6 levels, but all nuts and seeds are a good source of the nutrient. A small handful of nuts or seeds as a mid-morning snack provides a nice B-6 energy boost.
The Bottom Line on Vitamin B-6
Vitamin B-6 is a vital nutrient for your health. Fortunately, you don’t need much to gain all of its benefits, and by eating a well-balanced diet, you’ll generally get all the B-6 you need.
Vitamin B-6 Supplementation
B vitamins work best when working in concert with each other, and because they come from different food sources, it may be difficult to get enough of some of the B vitamins.
While vitamin B-6 deficiencies are very rare in the West, where most people have access to adequate amounts of food, your body requires more B-6 as it ages. Those who are 50 and over—and especially those with poor diets—might consider supplementing with a B complex that includes B-6.