Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, helps:
- allow the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates in food
- form haemoglobin – the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body
Good sources of vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods, including:
- poultry – such as chicken or turkey
- wholegrain cereals – such as oatmeal, wheatgerm and brown rice
- soya beans
- some fortified breakfast cereals
How much vitamin B6 do I need?
The amount of vitamin B6 adults (19-64 years) need is about:
- 1.4mg a day for men
- 1.2mg a day for women
You should be able to get all the vitamin B6 you need from your daily diet.
What happens if I take too much vitamin B6?
When taking a supplement, it's important not to take too much. Taking more than 200mg a day of vitamin B6 for a long time can lead to a loss of feeling in the arms and legs known as peripheral neuropathy .
This will usually improve once you stop taking the supplements. But in a few cases when people have taken large amounts of vitamin B6 – particularly for more than a few months – the effect can be permanent.
Taking doses of 10-200mg a day for short periods may not cause any harm. But there's not enough evidence to say how long these doses could be taken for safely.
What does the Department of Health advise?
You should be able to get the vitamin B6 you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. If you take vitamin B6 supplements, don't take too much as this could be harmful.
Don't take more than 10mg of vitamin B6 a day in supplements unless advised to by a doctor.