If the number on the scale keeps going up, it can be hard to pinpoint the cause. It's not likely, however, that B-6 is triggering weight gain -- it's not a source of calories. Food sources of B-6 do, however, contain calories, so overeating these foods might pack on pounds, even if the B-6 itself isn't causing weight gain. If you're noticing unexplained weight gain, consult your doctor for guidance to rule out an underlying medical condition.
The Real Cause of Weight Gain
With two out of every three adults carrying around more weight than they need, you're not alone in your battle against the bulge. But it's not an excessive intake of any one nutrient causing the struggle. Instead, it's a calorie imbalance. When you eat more calories than your body uses, it turns those extra calories into fat and stores them. Eating 50 more calories a day without making any changes to your daily activity can add an extra 5 pounds in a year. Because it's not a source of calories, vitamin B-6 does not directly cause weight gain.
Food Sources of Vitamin B-6
Various fruits, vegetables, beans, grains and meats can all help you get vitamin B-6. All of these foods contain calories, some more than others. If you're eating high-calorie foods -- and eating more calories than you need -- those foods will contribute to weight gain. Chickpeas are a good source of vitamin B-6 -- a cup of cooked chickpeas supplies 11 percent of the daily value, but they also provide 270 calories per cup. Oil-roasted mixed nuts contain B-6 as well, but 1/4 cup has more than 220 calories. And a 3-ounce hamburger patty made with 85 percent ground meat helps you get more vitamin B-6 but costs you 250 calories.
Choose lower-calorie foods to meet your B-6 needs. Reach for a medium banana, for example, for 90 calories and 22 percent of the daily value for vitamin B-6. A cup of cooked spinach has as much vitamin B-6 as a banana but contains only 41 calories. White-meat poultry, squash, onions and watermelon are also low-cal sources of vitamin B-6.
Vitamin B-6 Weight Connection
Even though B-6-containing foods can trigger weight gain, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that vitamin B-6 itself will make you pack on pounds. In fact, it might help you shed water weight by reducing fluid retention. Women who experience premenstrual bloating may get some relief from the B vitamin, according a 2012 study published in the Journal of Caring Sciences, which showed that vitamin B-6 was more effective at reducing fluid retention than a placebo.
Supplement Safety and Other Considerations
If you're taking the vitamin as a supplement and read the label, you'll see that it's calorie-free. While it may not be the cause of your weight gain, though, there are other potential side effects if you take too much in supplement form, such as ataxia, which is a condition that causes you to lose control over your body movements. Getting too much vitamin B-6 from food is not known to cause these effects, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, and most Americans are able to meet their needs from the food they eat. Always talk to your doctor first before you add any supplement to your routine to discuss pros, cons and a safe dosage.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B-6
- Better Health Channel: Fluid Retention
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool: Bananas, Chickpeas, Mixed Nuts
- McKinley Health Center: Gaining Weight the Healthy Way
- Journal of Caring Services: Effects of Magnesium and Vitamin B6 on the Severity of Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010: Balancing Calories to Manage Weight
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Overweight and Obesity Statistics
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool: Ground Beef, Cooked Spinach
- GNC: Nature's Way Vitamin B-6