Vitamin B6: A Healing Nutrient Profile

What does vitamin B6 do?
Vitamin B6 is involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions in your body. It’s used to break down proteins in your food and keep your blood sugar in a normal range. You need it for a healthy immune system (your body uses it to make antibodies), a healthy heart and for the production of hemoglobin, the protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen.

How much vitamin B6 do you need?
Until age 51, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin B6 for both women and men is 1.3 milligrams. After that, our B6 needs slightly increase: Men aged 51 or older need 1.7 mg and women need 1.5 mg. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need slightly more (1.9 mg and 2.0 mg, respectively).

B6 deficiencies are rare in the United States, but supplements are used to treat many conditions ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome to PMS to asthma.

Where can you get vitamin B6?
Some of the best naturally occurring sources of B6 are organic beef liver and other organic organ meats, but it’s also available in many other meats (including fish), as well as beans, vegetables, non-citrus fruits, whole grains and potatoes. Fortified cereals and fortified soy-based meat substitutes also offer good doses of the nutrient. Some of our favorite foods that contain B6 are:

FOOD

SERVING SIZE

AMOUNT OF VITAMIN B6 (mg)

Garbanzo beans

1 cup

1.14

Salmon

4 oz

.72

100% bran

 cup

.69

Chicken breast

4 oz

.67

Banana

1

.66

Potato, baked

1 med

.57

Turkey

4 oz

.52

Flank steak

4 oz

.48

Watermelon

2 cups

.46

Rainbow trout

4 oz

.45

Sweet potato

1 med

.41

Lentils

1 cup

.35

Okra, cooked

1 cup

.30

Wheat germ

¼ cup

.28

Prunes

¼ cup

.25

You can look up the vitamin B6 content of other foods by using the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

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