Beans and lentils contain vitamin B-6.

Briefly Explain Why B6 Is Biologically Important

by Sara Ipatenco

Vitamin B-6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of the eight B vitamins necessary for proper metabolism. The functions of vitamin B-6 don't stop there, however. You need plenty of this water-soluble vitamin on a daily basis to support a variety of other bodily functions, too. Fortunately, if you and your family eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, everyone in your house probably gets all the vitamin B-6 they need.

Brain Functions

Vitamin B-6 plays a role in the formation of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that send messages to and from the nerves in your brain and the rest of your body, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Normal neurotransmitter formation enables your brain to work properly. Adequate levels of vitamin B-6 promote normal production of norepinephrine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that help regulate mood. It influences melatonin production, too. Melatonin is essential for your body clock, which regulates your sleep cycles. Vitamin B-6 is essential for children because it supports normal brain development.

Homocysteine Regulation

Vitamin B-6 works with vitamin B-12 and vitamin B-9, or folate, to control your homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid that, in addition to promoting a healthy brain, also enables your body to create proteins from the food you eat. Perhaps even more important, normal levels of homocysteine might also reduce your risk of heart disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Additional Functions

Vitamin B-6 enables you to absorb vitamin B-12, which is crucial for the formation of normal red blood cells. Healthy red blood cells are essential because they help transport oxygen around your body. That same relationship between vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12 also helps you make strong immune system cells. Getting adequate amounts of vitamin B-6 might reduce the symptoms of morning sickness, as well, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Daily Requirements and Food Sources

Pregnant women require 1.9 milligrams each day and breastfeeding moms require 2 milligrams on a daily basis. Toddlers should have 0.5 milligrams per day while children between the ages of 4 and 8 need 0.6 milligrams each day. Children between the ages of 9 and 13 need 1 milligram each day. Lean meat, fish, shrimp, milk, beans, lentils, spinach, carrots, brown rice, and whole-grain flour are among the top sources of vitamin B-6.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

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