Nutrition focus: Vitamin B6 and All the Rest


The B vitamins are found in many foods.  Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) gets its name from the root "panto" meaning in all.  We will walk through one of the more important B vitamins, B6 and then take a look at the remaining B vitamins as well.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) is found in the body in its most ubiquitous form, pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P).  It is integral to the enzymes for amino acid and carbohydrate metabolism.  Vitamin B6 is instrumental in converting tryptophan to niacin (another B vitamin) and serotonin, a brain communication chemical.  Tryptophan is the amino acid that makes us sleepy after eating turkey at Thanksgiving!  B6 is needed for the conversion of dopa to dopamine and for the synthesis of gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA).  Serotonin, dopamine and GABA are all brain communication chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Deficiency in B6 can cause non-specific symptoms of irritability, depression and confusion.  In addition, it can be associated dryness and flakiness of the neck/face/scalp and shoulders. Deficiency can cause inflammation of the tongue (glossitis) and mouth (angular stomatitis) and lip cracking (cheilosis). This B vitamin is found in some fruits like bananas, berries and peaches.  It is also found in fortified cereals, sunflower seeds, brown rice and carrots.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine):  Important in muscle contraction, supports the nervous system and protects the immune system
     Found in spinach, kale, nuts, seeds, pork and red meat
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin):  Important for body growth in utilizing fats, proteins and carbohydrates, for red blood cell production and migraine prevention
     Found in brussel sprouts, broccoli, eggs, almonds and wild rice
Vitamin B3 (Niacin):  Important for digestion
     Found in legumes, nuts, eggs, beans and green veggies
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid):  Important for energy and growth
     Found in all food groups
Vitamin B7 (Biotin):  Supports hair, skin and nail health
     Found in cauliflower, egg yolks particularly, meat and nuts

All the B vitamins are water soluble and must be consumed regularly as they cannot be stored in the body.  Eggs, nuts, seeds and green veggies are the most consistent sources of all the B vitamins with a handful of fruits thrown in for good measure.


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