Vitamin and nutrients work synergistically to promote health. Vitamin B-6, or pyridoxine and B-12, or cobalamin, are two equally important B vitamins necessary for proper body function. They are part of eight B vitamins known as B complex that work together to help your body perform a variety of functions.
Vitamin B-6 Function
Vitamin B-6 plays a critical role in helping your body produce neurotransmitters, brain chemicals that transmit signals from one nerve cell to another. Serotonin, dopamine and norepinhephrine are three neurotransmitters responsible for appetite, reward mechanism, libido, sleep-wake cycle and mental health. B-6 along with B-12 and B-9, or folic acid, helps regulate homocysteine levels, an amino acid that when elevated, is associated with cardiovascular disease. Vitamin B-6 is also necessary for the absorption of vitamin B-12.
Vitamin B-12 Function
Vitamin B-12 plays an important role in the production of red blood cells, which carry iron, oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. You also need to produce DNA, and RNA, genetic material. It is required to metabolize protein and fats and needed for healthy hair, skin, eyes, liver and proper nervous system function. B-12 works together with B-6 to help release energy from carbohydrates.
Vitamin B-6 and B-12 are in protein-rich foods including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts and seeds. You generally get enough B-6 and B-12 from your diet; however, vegans and vegetarians are at risk of developing a deficiency. Stomach surgery can cause malabsorption, leading to a deficiency. Other causes of deficiency include chronic alcohol consumption and pernicious anemia, an autoimmune disease where your immune system produces antibodies against intrinsic factor, an enzyme that helps absorb B-12.
Doctors primarily use vitamin B-12 to treat deficiency in the form of monthly intramuscular injections. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, B-12 is also for fatigue and as a complimentary treatment for elevated homocysteine levels. Because B-6 plays a role in the production of serotonin, and low serotonin levels are associated with depression, B-6 researchers believe B-6 therapy may help reduce symptoms of depression, says UMMC, but more research is necessary.