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What is Pyridoxine?

By Douglas Bonderud
Updated Jan 25, 2024
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Pyridoxine is a compound also known as vitamin B6. It shares this designation with the compounds pyridoxal and pyridoxamine. These substances have very similar chemical structures, and all operate in the human body in the same way. All forms of vitamin B6 are based on the pyridine ring.

These compounds are heterocylic in nature. This means that they are composed of at least one atom of carbon, one atom or compound that is not carbon, and are structured as a ring. Pyridoxine has hydroxyl and methyl compounds attached to it, in addition to a carbon atom.

In total, there are six forms of vitamin B6. These include pyridoxine (PN), pyridoxal (PL), pyridoxamine (PM), and their three phosphate derivatives. Vitamin B6 is necessary to maintain the balance of sodium and potassium in the body, and also encourages red blood cell production. Also, pyridoxine assists the body in converting carbohydrates to glucose, which is used as the body's energy source.

There are almost no individuals who are severely deficient in pyridoxine. The most common natural sources of this compound are meat and milk. Very few plants are a significant source of pyridoxine, with dragonfruit grown in southeastern Asia as one rare exception. Vegetarians may suffer from a lack of vitamin B6, but this can usually be offset by taking supplements. Vitamin B6 is soluble in water, which means that the human body does not store it.

A deficiency in pyridoxine causes nervousness, insomnia, mouth sores, and possibily osteoporosis. More severe complications from a lack of vitamin B6 include nerve damage, seizures, and a reduction in immune system functioning. This vitamin also assists in the uptake of vitamin B12.

Vitamin B6 is available in a number of forms for consumption. These include tablets and capsules that are taken by mouth, as well as a solution form that is typically administered by injection. The solution form of this vitamin may also be used in a prepared nasal spray.

An excess of vitamin B6 can cause health problems as well. Taking over 200 milligrams (mg) per day may result in neurological disorders and numbness in the extremities. Symptoms of a pyridoxine overdose can last for years, even after consumption of the compound has stopped.

In 1987, a study was conducted of women taking vitamin B6 supplements of 50mg or less per day, over a period of six months. The study found that 21% of these subjects experienced some form of neurotoxicity. The current recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin B6 is 2mg for both men and women.

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