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DSM in Food, Beverages & Dietary Supplements

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

DSM is a major supplier to the global market of vitamin B6.
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Vitamin B6, a water-soluble vitamin, is found in three different natural forms: pyridoxine, pyridoxamine, and pyridoxal - all of which are normally found in foods. Humans depend on external sources to cover their vitamin B6 requirements and the pyridoxal 5`-phosphate (PLP) form is of major importance.

Excellent sources of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) are chicken, beef liver, pork and veal. Good sources include fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut, and herring), nuts (walnuts, peanuts), bread, corn and whole grain cereals. Generally, vegetables and fruits are rather poor sources of vitamin B6.

Health functions

An adequate intake of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is essential as it helps the body to:

  • Convert food into glucose, which is used to produce energy
  • Make neurotransmitters, which carry signals from one nerve cell to another
  • Produce hormones, red blood cells, and cells of the immune system
  • Control (along with vitamin B12 and vitamin B9) blood levels of homocysteine - an amino acid that may be associated with heart disease.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which provides scientific advice to assist policy makers, has confirmed that clear health benefits have been established for the dietary intake of vitamin B6 in contributing to:

  • Normal protein and glycogen metabolism
  • The normal function of the nervous system
  • Normal red blood cell formation
  • The normal functioning of the immune system
  • The regulation of hormonal activity
  • Normal homocysteine metabolism
  • Normal energy-yielding metabolism
  • Normal cysteine synthesis
  • Normal psychological functions
  • The reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

A deficiency of vitamin B6 alone is uncommon as any deficiency typically occurs in combination with a deficit in other B-complex vitamins (especially vitamin B2).

Population groups at risk of vitamin B6 deficiency are pregnant and breast-feeding women (additional demands), women taking oral contraceptives, the elderly (due to lower food intake), underweight people, chronic alcoholics, and people with a high protein intake.

Symptoms of deficiency include nervous system disorders (irritability, depression, and confusion), impairment of the immune system and inflammation of skin and mucosa.

Supplements and food fortification

The most commonly available form of vitamin B6 is pyridoxine hydrochloride, used in food fortification, nutritional supplements and therapeutic products such as capsules, tablets and ampoules. Vitamins, mostly of the B-complex variety, are widely used in the enrichment of cereals. ‘Dietetic’ foods, such as infant formulas and slimming diets, are often fortified with pyridoxine (as well as other vitamins).