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The Link Between Vitamin B6 and Inflammation

The Link Between Vitamin B6 and Inflammation

A new study shows a strong association between chronic inflammation and the essential vitamin B6. B6 is one of those nutrients that is found robustly in lean chicken breast and beef, eggs, fish, in legumes and pinto beans, and of course colorful vegetables like bell peppers.

Low levels of vitamin B6 may be something to take into consideration for patients suffering from chronic inflammation.

Vitamin B6 deficiency has been identified in inflammatory diseases, including cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and diabetes.

In a recent study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers compared blood levels of vitamin B6 alongside 13 different indicators of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein, plasma TNFa, and Interleukin-6. The study included 2,229 adults enrolled in the Framingham Offspring study. The results showed that people with the lowest levels of vitamin B6 had the highest levels of chronic inflammation, based on an inflammation score developed from the 13 different indicators of inflammation. Conversely, those with the most vitamin B6 circulating in the bloodstream were also the least likely to have indicators of inflammation.

Although previous studies have linked low blood levels of vitamin B6 with various signs of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), researchers say this is actually the first large-scale study to look at the relationship between the vitamin and such a wide variety of inflammation indicators.

The results showed that people with the highest overall inflammation score based on the 13 different indicators had the lowest blood levels of vitamin B6. The reverse was also true. Those who had the highest blood levels of vitamin B6 had the lowest levels of chronic inflammation.These relationships held true, even when researchers accounted for the subjects’ current vitamin B-6 intake.

This study, along with older research, further supports the hypothesis that inflammation is associated with a functional deficiency of vitamin B-6.

How Much is Too Much?

As vitamin B6 is crucial in over 100 enzyme processes in the body, mostly those involving the metabolism of protein, it’s important to make sure that even healthy patients are getting enough. Anytime and individual increases their lean protein intake, additional Vitamin B6 is absolutely necessary in order to ensure transamination reactions are able to occur in the body, and that non-essential amino acids can be formed and supply the substrates for the amino acid pool used constantly by the body.

However, too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Studies have shown taking large amounts of vitamin B6 from supplements (more than 500 mg a day) can cause nerve damage, difficulty walking, or tingling, so doing follow up lab work and monitoring patient symptoms is crucial when treating with Vitamin B6.

At my practice, I test a number of micronutrient levels in my patients and make recommendations for supplementation based upon their particular lab result. Sometimes a multivitamin isn’t enough and additional B6 is required, especially in certain patient populations, such as those with PCOS or who are suffering from hormonal imbalances.

Source: Sakakeeny et al. Plasma Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate Is Inversely Associated with Systemic Markers of Inflammation in a Population of U.S. Adults J. Nutr. 142: 1280-1285, 2012.

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