Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of the eight B complex vitamins. It is used throughout your body, but most importantly, it is essential for healthy growth in your brain and nerves. While more research needs to be conducted on the effectiveness of B6 in treating headaches, it may be able to provide some benefits.
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Vitamin B6 Function
According to the Mayo Clinic, B6 is necessary for producing neurotransmitters, mainly serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, and for the creation of myelin. Plainly put, B6 is used to make the chemicals that send messages throughout your nervous system – neurotransmitters – and the covering of the pathways that these transmitters travel through – the myelin sheath. B6 is essential for your brain and nervous system’s health, but unfortunately many Americans actually have a deficiency in B6.
Vitamin B6 and Serotonin
A B6 deficiency may have a direct connection with chronic headaches and migraines. B6 is a cofactor – a chemical that works with another – in the conversion process that creates serotonin. B6 converts tryptophan, an amino acid that helps promote relaxation and sleepiness, into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is directly connected with your ability to relax, sleep, and concentrate. Serotonin also seems to have a correlation with your pain levels and feeling of emotional well-being. For example, those who suffer from depression frequently have low levels of serotonin.
Low serotonin levels have been discovered in those who suffer from migraines and other neurological problems related to pain, leading researchers to the conclusion that low vitamin B6 may cause low serotonin and increased headaches. If a low level of serotonin is one of the causes of your headaches, then additional B6 may help reduce the frequency of your headaches. Unfortunately, no scientific consensus has been reached as to just how effective B6 is in treating headaches.
Vitamin B6 Supplementation
You may want to supplement your diet with a multivitamin or dietary supplement if you are concerned that a B6 deficiency is causing your headaches. However, the National Institutes of Health reports that the most B6 you should have in one day is 100 mg. Consumption above that amount risks nerve damage, especially in your limbs. Regardless of the effectiveness of B6 in preventing or relieving headaches, make sure you consult your doctor before making any change to your headache treatment regimen.