Vitamin B6, or pyroxidine, is a water-soluble vitamin that is responsible for many processes in the human body. It aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins while being responsible for over 100 enzyme reactions. Vitamin B6 is also important for immune function and energy production.
According to a February 2016 review in the journal Nutrients, a deficiency of vitamin B6 has been linked to irritability, emotional disturbances, confusion and disturbed sleep among other effects. However, too much vitamin B6 can contribute to a lack of sleep quality.
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Insomnia and Mood Regulation Support
According to Oregon State University's Micronutrient Information Center, vitamin B6 can contribute to a reduction in late-life depression. Moreover, both tryptophan and dopamine are dependent upon B6 for synthesis. Tryptophan is important for regulating mood and improving sleep quality due to its role in serotonin and melatonin production. In this way, vitamin B6 indirectly benefits mood and sleep quality.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that helps regulate nervous system activity related to relaxation and sleep. Vitamin B6 converts a small amount of the tryptophan in your body to niacin, or vitamin B3, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep patterns.
By failing to obtain an adequate amount of dietary vitamin B6 , the body's metabolism of tryptophan may be disturbed. This may limit the amount of serotonin in the body, potentially leading to disturbed sleep patterns and insomnia.
The Micronutrient Information Center explains that a lack of vitamin B6 can cause irritability, depression and confusion. Depression is a known cause of sleep disturbances, including insomnia.
In fact, according to a July 2013 review in the journal Sleep, depression and anxiety are bidirectionally related to sleep disturbances, meaning one leads to the other. This creates a huge impact on quality of life. Getting the proper amount of vitamin B6 for sleep can, therefore, increase the chances of avoiding depressive symptoms as well as insomnia.
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Recommended Dosage of Vitamin B6
The Mayo Clinic suggests 1.3 milligrams of vitamin B6 per day for adults, which can be obtained through food sources such as bananas, potatoes, fish, poultry and chickpeas. A tablet, liquid or capsule supplement may also be taken in order to meet the recommendations. Since vitamin B6 deficiency typically occurs alongside other B vitamin deficiencies, a B vitamin complex supplement may be the best choice.
Pyridoxal 5`phosphate (P5P), which is highly bioavailable, is the active coenzyme form of vitamin B6. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains that P5P deficiency symptoms include altered mental status, confusion and depression, according to Mayo Clinic. P5P dosage is recommended by the NIH to be between 1.3 to 1.7 milligrams per day for adults. During pregnancy and lactation, the P5P dosage increases to 1.9 and 2.0 milligrams per day.
There are few health risks associated with high intakes of vitamin B6. In fact, there have never been adverse effects from too much vitamin B6 when obtained from food sources. However, sensory neuropathy can occur if pyroxidine is consumed in supplement form over 1,000 milligrams per day.
One small April 2018 study of 100 people in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills found that participants who were taking 240 milligrams of vitamin B6 daily rated their quality of sleep as lower and reported significantly more tiredness upon waking.
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Vitamin B6 supplementation can cause adverse drug interactions. Consult a physician before beginning any type of supplement.
- National Institutes of Health: "Vitamin B6"
- Nutrients: "B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review"
- Perceptual and Motor Skills: "Effects of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and a B Complex Preparation on Dreaming and Sleep"
- Micronutrient Information Center: "Vitamin B6"
- International Journal of Tryptophan Research: "Analysis, Nutrition, and Health Benefits of Tryptophan"
- Nutrients: "Influence of Tryptophan and Serotonin on Mood and Cognition With a Possible Role of the Gut-Brain Axis"
- Mayo Clinic: "Vitamin B-6"
- Sleep: "A Systematic Review Assessing Bidirectionality between Sleep Disturbances, Anxiety, and Depression"