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Vitamin B6 Deficiency

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 29/12/2023
  • 2 min read

Vitamin B6, also known as Pyridoxine, is responsible for regulating your metabolism and supports your immune system, brain function and the formation of red blood cells. It also helps in the creation of neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine and keeps your skin healthy.

This B vitamin is an essential building block for several base metabolic functions and is involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions.

Any deficiencies can lead to Pyroxidine deficiency symptoms such as seizures, skin rashes, mood disorders and low energy levels. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid this and treatment is available for vitamin B6 deficiency diseases. Read on to find out!

Role and Function of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 is an essential component needed by cells of living organisms. It is essential for:

Metabolising carbohydrates, amino acids, and fats (lipids),

Breaking down protein, i.e., the more your protein intake, the more B6 you will need.

Making haemoglobin to transport oxygen to cells and tissues.

Maintain brain function by creating

Keep blood sugar (glucose) in normal ranges

Making antibodies to support immune system functions needed to fight disease.

Foetal brain development (needed throughout infancy as well).

Since it is water-soluble, it can not be stored in the body and excess amounts are excreted through urine. Hence, you need to consume a minimum amount of it regularly to avoid deficiencies.

Vitamin B6 Deficiency Symptoms

Seobhoraic dermatitis on your scalp (dandruff), face, neck and upper chest.

Cheilosis (cracked and sore lips).

Glossitis (swollen, sore, smooth, inflamed or reddened tongue).

Mood changes resulting in irritability, depression, anxiety, or increased feelings of pain.

Weak immune systems.

Constant fatigue or low energy levels.


Severe, refractory seizures in infants.

Pins-and-needles sensation in the hands and feet.

Long Term Effects of Vitamin B6 Deficiency

Lifelong peripheral neuropathy (weakness, numbness and pain in hands and feet).

Cancers driven by steroid hormones, like breast and prostate cancers.

Cardiovascular disease.


Rheumatoid arthritis.

Electroencephalographic abnormalities.

Dementia and cognitive impairment.

Pyridoxine Deficiency Causes

Dietary Pyroxidine deficiencies are quite rare since it is bio-available in most foods and is also the main ingredient in many over-the-counter (OTC) multivitamin supplements. They only happen in the event of severe malnutrition.

Generally, Pyroxidine deficiency causes are secondary in nature, i.e., they are caused by external factors and underlying conditions. Here are some common causes:

Kidney disease and digestive disorders that prevent the small intestine from absorbing nutrients from foods (malabsorption syndromes). For example, dialysis patients often exhibit low serum PLP concentrations.

Alcohol abuse, obesity, starvation and pregnancy-related conditions like preeclampsia and eclampsia are some other B6 deficiency causes.

Inadequate intake for people with increased B6 requirements. For example, people with autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease generally require higher daily amounts of B6 than the average person.

Living in resource-limited countries, food-scarce areas and poverty are some external factors that can cause malnutrition, leading to a Pyroxidine deficiency.

Drug interactions like prolonged tuberculosis treatment using isoniazid (INH), antiseizure drugs, hydralazine (for high blood pressure), corticosteroids, and penicillamine (for disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and Wilson disease) can cause Pyroxidine deficiencies.

Vitamin B6 Deficiency Signs: Diagnosis

Apart from the symptoms listed above, early B6 deficiency signs can be minimal/vague symptoms or none at all. Generally, the best to determine if you have a deficiency is through blood and urine tests.

For blood tests, medical practitioners will asses your plasma PLP concentration in your liver. For urine tests, if the excretion of xanthurenic acid of more than 65 mmol/day following a 2-gram tryptophan load, it can indicate a Pyroxidine deficiency[1].

Pyridoxine Deficiency Treatment


Vitamin B6 deficiency diseases can easily be treated through oral supplementation. This must be done through a doctor, as high doses of B6 can lead to toxicity and nerve damage (neuropathy), causing pain and numbness in the feet and legs.

Important: Any kind of neuropathy due to long-term B6 intake at high doses is permanent and irreversible. Hence we recommend consulting with your doctor to determine your correct dosage.

For reference, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for B6 is:

For Men

14 to 50 years: 1.3 mg/day

Over 50 years: 1.7 mg/day

For Women:

14 to 18 years: 1.2 mg/day

19 to 50 years: 1.3 mg/day

Over 50 years: 1.5 mg/day

During pregnancy: 1.9 mg/day

During lactation: 2.0 mg/day


Patients are also recommended to consume food rich in B6, like dried yeast, meat, fish, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Some specific sources of B6 are:

Poultry (chicken and turkey breast, skinless)

Red meat (Pork loin, sirloin steak, liver and other organ meat)

Fish (Halibut, tuna, wild salmon)

Whole grains and fortified cereals

Fruits (Bananas, avocados, red peppers, prunes)

Vegetables (potato with skin)

Brussels sprouts, Chickpeas and lentils (boiled)

Sunflower seeds

Prioritise Your Heath With Tata AIG!

Other than deficiencies, doctors also prescribe B6 for dialysis patients and those with malabsorption syndromes. However, medication costs, along with treatments for these conditions, can result in sky-high bills.

This is where the benefits of a health insurance policy really shine. It can help pay most if not all, your medical bills without depleting your savings. This can be especially true for recurring treatments like dialysis.

Moreover, health insurance plans from Tata AIG offer daycare coverage and critical illness insurance and can be bought online.

Our online facilities allow for quick and hassle-free claims processes, ensuring timely coverage and reimbursements. Find your perfect plan today!


The best way to combat the effects of a vitamin B6 deficiency is to follow a healthy diet rich in essential vitamins and nutrients. This means lots of whole grains, fruits, leafy green vegetables and cutting down on alcohol.

If you notice any vitamin B6 deficiency symptoms listed on this blog, seek medical help first and avoid self-medicating. Getting a health insurance policy from Tata AIG beforehand ensures your OPD consultations and prescriptions are covered.

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