Vitamin B6, which is also known as pyridoxine, is a type of B vitamin and part of the B-complex vitamins. Your body needs vitamin B6 to create red blood cells, produce the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, and metabolise protein, fat and carbohydrates. But like all other nutrients, there’s a vitamin B6 RDA you need to stick to.
Because your body can’t produce vitamin B6 on its own, it’s important to ensure you’re getting enough of it from your diet. Consuming enough vitamin B6 can improve your overall health and also prevent or treat certain chronic conditions.
This page provides information about the vitamin B6 RDA/NRV.
What’s Your Vitamin B6 RDA?
Like all other B-complex vitamins, vitamin B6 is water-soluble. This means it dissolves in water and isn’t stored in the body. Any excess is excreted through urine, so there is no risk of toxicity.
The Nutrient Reference Value (or NRV, previously known as Recommended Daily Allowance or RDA) for RDA are different based on age, gender and reproductive status.
For adults, the vitamin B6 RDA/NRV is:
- 3mg per day for both males and females aged 19 to 50 years old
- 7mg per day for males and 1.5mg per day for females aged 51+ years old
A growing body of research suggests that taking vitamin B6 can also help address certain health conditions and support body functions.
- For pregnant women, the vitamin B6 RDA is 1.9mg per day
- For lactating women, the RDA is 2.0mg per day
- To address sideroblastic anaemia (a condition whereby the body creates abnormal red blood cells that build up iron), an initial dose of 200-600mg is used, which decreases to 30-50mg per day.
- To address vitamin B6 deficiency, a daily dose of 2.5-25mg for three weeks is recommended. The dose is then reduced to 1.5-2.5mg per day. In women taking contraceptives, the dose is 25-30mg per day.
- To reduce high levels of homocysteine in the blood (a condition known as hyperhomocysteinemia), the NRV/RDA ranges from 50mg to 200mg. Alternatively, a combination of 100mg of vitamin B6 and 0.5mg of folic acid taken daily has been shown to help.
- To address age-related macular degeneration, a combination of 50mg of vitamin B6, 1000mcg of vitamin B12 and 2500mcg of folic acid taken daily for 7 years has been shown to be effective.
- To ease the symptoms of atherosclerosis, a daily dose of 12.5mg of vitamin B6 taken in combination with 250mg aged garlic extract, 300mcg of folic acid, 100mcg of vitamin B12 and 100mg of L-arginine for 12 months has been used.
- For morning sickness, a dose of 10-25mg taken 3-4 times a day has been shown to relieve symptoms.
- For symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (or PMS), a daily dose of 50-100mg of vitamin B6 is recommended, which can be taken alone or combined with 200mg of magnesium.
In children, the vitamin B6 RDA is as follows:
- Infants up to 6 months old: 0.1mg per day
- Infants 7-12 months old: 0.3mg per day
- Children 1-3 years old: 0.5mg per day
- Children 4-8 years old: 0.6mg per day
- Children 9-13 years old: 1.0mg per day
- Teenagers 14-18 years old: 1.3mg per day for males and 1.2mg per day for females
Vitamin B6 Deficiency
There are two types of vitamin B6 deficiency: primary and secondary. Primary vitamin B6 deficiency results from an inadequate daily intake of B6 deficiency. Secondary vitamin B6 deficiency is caused by health conditions such as:
- Use of pyridoxine-inactivating drugs, such as corticosteroids and antiseizure drugs
- Protein-energy undernutrition
Vitamin B6 deficiency is also experienced more frequently by people with kidney, digestive, liver or autoimmune diseases. Pregnant women are also at risk of deficiency. Sticking to your vitamin B6 RDA is essential to preventing deficiency.
Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B6 Deficiency
If your levels of vitamin B6 are lacking, then you’re likely to have symptoms such as:
- Skin rashes
- Cracked and sore lips
- Mood swings
- Tiredness and low energy
- Tingling in hands and feet
- High levels of homocysteine
Overdose and Toxicity
While vitamin B6 is considered safe, there is a chance of toxicity and long-term health issues if taken in high doses for periods longer than a year. The most common such health issue is severe nerve damage, which causes loss of control of bodily movement.
Other symptoms include nausea, heartburn, extreme sensitivity to sunlight and painful skin patches. Generally, the symptoms will go away on their own once you stop taking high doses of vitamin B6.
There are daily Upper Intake Limits (UL) for vitamin B6, which are the highest intake amount that is likely to cause side effects. The intake limits are as follows:
- Children 1-3 years old: 30 mg
- Children 4-8 years old: 40 mg
- Children 9-13 years old: 60 mg
- Teens 14-18 years old: 80 mg
- Adults 19-51+ years old: 100 mg
Most people will be able to meet their vitamin B6 RDA/NRV from their diet simply by eating vitamin B6-rich foods. However, in case of vitamin B6 deficiency, taking a B-complex vitamin supplement can help ensure you’re getting adequate levels of this nutrient every day. You can also start taking a food supplement if you’re looking to bump up your daily intake for health reasons.
In some cases, taking a vitamin B6 supplement can cause an imbalance of B-complex vitamins in the body. This is why taking a B-complex vitamin supplement instead is recommended.