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Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that performs a wide variety of functions in the body. For example, vitamin B6 is needed for more than 100 enzymes involved in protein metabolism. It is essential for red blood cell metabolism and the nervous and immune systems need vitamin B6 to function efficiently. B6 is also required for the production of hemoglobin a protein-based component of red blood cells which is primarily responsible for transferring oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
Through its involvement in protein metabolism and cellular growth, B6 is important to the immune system. It also helps maintain blood glucose (sugar) within a normal range. When caloric intake is low your body needs vitamin B6 to help convert stored carbohydrate or other nutrients to glucose to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Vitamin B6 is also required for the proper metabolism of fat and cholesterol.
B6 and deficiency
Vitamin B6 deficiency can occur in individuals with poor quality diets that are deficient in many nutrients. Symptoms occur during later stages of deficiency, when intake has been very low for an extended time. Signs of vitamin B6 deficiency can include dermatitis (skin inflammation), glossitis (a sore tongue), depression, and confusion. Alcoholics and older adults are more likely to have inadequate vitamin B6 intake s that other segments of the population because they may have limited variety in their diet. Alcohol also promotes the destruction and loss of vitamin B6 from the body.
Vitamin B6 and homocysteine
A deficiency of vitamin B6, folic acid, or vitamin b12 may increase your level of homocysteine. There is evidence that an elevated homocystine level is an independent risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The evidence suggests that high levels of homocysteine may damage coronary arteries or make it easier for blood clotting cells called platelets to clump together and form a clot. Vitamin B6 along with folic acid and b12 are required for the remethylation of homocysteine to methionine which may support heart health