Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is a B-complex vitamin with many benefits for the central nervous system. It’s involved in the production of neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, in the maintenance of red blood cell metabolism, and also in the formation of myelin.
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As a water-soluble nutrient, vitamin B6 isn’t stored in the body in large amounts and any excess is usually eliminated through urine. To ensure your body’s levels of vitamin B6 are always replenished, you need to consume foods that are rich in this nutrient.
Here are the 15 vitamin B6 sources you should add to your diet today.
One cup of cow or goat’s milk packs 5% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B6, which makes it ideal for both kids and adults. Milk also provides high amounts of calcium and vitamin B12 — not to mention it’s extremely versatile and equally delicious.
If a glass of plain milk isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps a bowl of low-sugar breakfast cereal might prove more satisfying. Stick to skim and 1% milk whenever possible to ensure you’re keeping your fat intake low.
Salmon is yet another great source of vitamin B6. Among its many benefits, vitamin B6 helps to maintain your adrenal glands in the best possible shape. Adrenal glands are responsible for producing important hormones in your body that also play a role in regulating blood pressure and blood sugar.
A regular salmon fillet contains around 1.2mg of vitamin B6, which fully meets the RDA/NRV of both males and females aged 18 to 64 years old. Wild varieties of salmon tend to have higher concentrations of this vitamin compared to farmed salmon.
Whether you enjoy eating out or prefer cooking at home, you’re likely to find salmon on many restaurant menus as well as in many local supermarkets.
Other vitamin B6-rich fish include:
- Tuna: a regular 130-gram fillet contains around 90% of your RDA/NRV
- Snapper: a 130-gram fillet packs around 35% of your vitamin B6 RDA/NRV
- Mahi-mahi: a 170-gram fillet provides 43% of your RDA/NRV
If you’re partial to your omelette, then you’ll be pleased to know that two eggs provide 10% of your vitamin B6 RDA. They also pack over 50% of your protein RDA, which makes them one of the best vitamin B6 sources around.
Next time you can’t think of what to cook, why not whip up an omelette packed with healthy veggies for an extra boost of fibre?
Chicken breast isn’t only rich in protein, folate and vitamin A — it’s also a great source of vitamin B6. A regular 85g serving of roasted chicken breast provides as much as 29% of your RDA/NRV.
The best part of all? Chicken breast is very versatile and can be cooked in any number of ways.
Other poultry sources of vitamin B6 include:
- Ground turkey: an 85g serving provides 54% of your RDA/NRV
- Roast turkey breast: an 85g serving has 40.5% of your vitamin B6 RDA/NRV
- Roast chicken thigh: about 33% of your recommended daily intake
While not a vegan vitamin B6 source, beef is still an excellent food option if you want to increase your daily intake. An 85g serving of fried beef liver packs 53% of the Nutrient Reference Value (NRV, previously known as Recommended Daily Allowance or RDA).
By comparison, beef roast only provides around 41% of your vitamin B6 NRV, while a hamburger contains between 18% and 21%. If you’re especially fond of your burger, then you’ll be pleased to know that a few onion rings will add an extra 3% of your NRV to the mix.
Despite their sweet taste, sweet potatoes are a great vitamin B6 source loaded with other nutrients, including vitamin A, fibre and magnesium. A medium-sized sweet potato provides around 15% of your recommended daily intake.
Vitamin B6 plays a role in regulating glycogen, which is the energy stored in your liver and muscles. Why not add a few baked sweet potatoes to you diet once or twice a week to keep your vitamin B6 levels in check?
Bananas aren’t just a delicious snack in between meals — they’re also packed with vitamin B6, with one medium banana delivering around 20% of your RDA/NRV. As an added benefit, these fruits also have dietary fibre, vitamin C and magnesium.
Whether you have a sweet tooth or just need an extra boost of energy, a banana will prove the perfect choice for a snack. Try slicing and freezing a banana for a tasty frozen treat.
Rich in vitamins C and K, fibre, folate and healthy fats, avocados are a nutritious source of vitamin B6. One medium-sized avocado covers 30% of your NRV, which equals around 0.39mg of vitamin B6.
You can slice avocados into salads or use them to make guacamole — just make sure you let them get ripe first.
Did you know that chickpeas are one of the best vitamin B6 sources? You can get around 65% of your Nutrient Reference Value from 200 grams of chickpeas, together with 21% of your calcium NRV, 57% of your magnesium NRV and 69% of your iron NRV.
You can buy chickpeas either canned or dry and use them to make lots of delicious recipes. From humus to salads, there are many ways you can add chickpeas to your diet.
Many processed foods, such as breakfast cereals, are fortified with nutrients that fulfil many of your nutritional needs. Breakfast cereals deliver 25% of your vitamin B6 recommended intake, or about 0.4mg. Together with 200ml of milk, you can easily get between 30% and 35% of your vitamin B6 RDA at breakfast.
Another way to increase your daily intake of vitamin B6 is to add cottage cheese to your diet. You can get around 12% of your recommended daily intake of this vitamin from 200 grams of 1% low-fat cottage cheese. From delicious sandwiches to mini frittatas and even pancakes, cottage cheese is the perfect way to boost your vitamin B6 intake.
If you’re looking for vegetarian vitamin B6 sources, look no further than spinach — a nutritious green leafy vegetable packaged with many essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium and vitamin K. A 90g serving of boiled spinach provides 5% of your vitamin B6 NRV.
Nuts are rich in vitamin B6 — and pistachios are no different. You can get around 28% of your daily intake from a 30g serving (or about 49 kernels) of pistachio nuts. In addition, they also pack nutrients such as thiamine, copper, manganese and phosphorus.
Other vitamin B6-rich nuts include:
- Roasted chestnuts: 10 roasted chestnuts provide 25% of your NRV/RDA
- Dried sunflower seeds: 30 grams of dried sunflower seeds fulfil 22% of your NRV
- Walnuts: 30 grams provide around 9% of your recommended daily intake
A medium carrot stick provides the same amount of vitamin B6 as a glass of milk — about 5% of your reference value for this nutrient. Considering the high amounts of vitamin A and fibre they also pack, carrots make it easy to add important nutrients to your diet.
Whether you choose to eat them whole, chop them up into a salad or toss them into a tasty stir-fry, carrots are a versatile vegetable you’ll find in any supermarket.
The last on our list of vitamin B6 sources are green peas. A regular 100g serving of boiled green peas has 10% of your NRV for this nutrient, as well as 23% of your vitamin C NRV, 16% of your vitamin A NRV and 9% of your magnesium NRV.
Mix green peas with carrots to make a delicious vegetable side dish for the whole family — kids included.
Vitamin B6 Is Important to Your Health
Whether you’re concerned about being vitamin B6 deficient or just want to make sure you’re getting the right daily amount, adding these foods to your diet is the solution.
Want an extra boost of vitamin B6? Why not top up your daily intake with a B-complex vitamin supplement? In addition to fulfilling your RDA, a B-complex vitamin supplement also delivers other important nutrients, such as niacin, thiamine and riboflavin. As an added benefit, it doesn’t require you to make any changes to your diet if you’re not too keen on the idea.