The Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board has set recommended dietary allowances, or RDA, for many essential nutrients, including vitamin B-6. Vitamin B-6 helps make oxygen-carrying red blood cells and antibodies that fight infection. It also assists in the functioning of the nervous system. Because B-6 cannot be made in your body, you must obtain it by taking supplements and consuming B-6-rich foods.
Recommended Dietary Allowance
Infants ages 7 to 12 months require 0.3 milligrams, while newborns up to 6 months require 0.1 milligrams.The RDA of B-6 is 0.5 milligrams for children ages 1 to 3, 0.6 milligrams for ages 4 to 8 and 1 milligram for ages 9 to 13. The RDA is 1.3 milligrams for males ages 14 to 50 and females ages 19 to 50. Teenage girls ages 14 to 18 require 1.2 milligrams of B-6 daily. Males over ages 50 require 1.7 milligrams, while females of the same age require 1.5 milligrams.
Low B-6 Levels
Low levels of B-6 can lead to a deficiency, causing confusion, depression, irritability, mouth sores and skin inflammation. People with poor diets and older adults are likely to have a deficiency in B-6. Because alcohol causes the body to lose B-6, alcoholics have a greater risk of developing a deficiency. Certain medical conditions, such as asthma and kidney disease, can decrease the levels of B-6 in the blood.
To help reach the RDA of B-6, you can take supplements that are available as multivitamins, vitamin B complex or vitamin B6 only. Asthmatic children who are being treated with theophylline may require B-6 supplements. Taking too much B-6 can cause nerve damage leading to pain, numbness and difficulty walking. The Food and Nutrition Board has therefore devised tolerable upper intake levels, or UL, for this vitamin. The UL is 30 milligrams for children ages 1 to 3, 40 milligrams for ages 4 to 8, 60 milligrams for ages 9 to 13, 80 milligrams for ages 14 to 18 and 100 milligrams for adults.
Foods With B6
Eat B-6-rich foods to help reach the RDA of this vitamin. B-6 occurs naturally in many vegetables including potatoes, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, pepper, okra, avocado and Chinese cabbage. Salmon, halibut, tuna and swordfish are the top fish sources of B-6. Other sources include turkey, chicken, beef and liver. B-6 also occurs in nuts, whole grains, beans and tomato products. Manufacturers often add vitamin B-6 to breakfast cereals and malted drinks.