Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin and part of the B complex family. B6 plays an active role in metabolizing protein, carbohydrates and fat, as well as the creation of neurotransmitters and red blood cell production. Immunity and circulation are also influenced by vitamin B6 levels. Since the body doesn’t naturally produce B6, it must be obtained through foods or supplementation.
How does B6 play a role in mood elevation? B6 is necessary for creating neurotransmitters that regulate mood such as serotonin, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). It also helps with the production of norepinephrine, which helps the body cope with stress and anxiety. Vitamin B6 also plays an active role in natural melatonin production to help with regulating sleep patterns. A healthy and rested brain is a happy brain.
Vitamin B6 is also shown to help boost the immune system. Enzymatic reactions in the immune system are dependent on B6. When the pathway between immune cells is blocked, there is evidence that B6, especially in older adults, assists with immunity. A healthy body is a happy body.
Homocysteine is an amino acid that plays a role in heart health. Too much in the bloodstream leads to heart issues. Vitamin B6 regulates homocysteine levels and maintains normal amounts in the bloodstream creating better circulation. A healthy heart is a happy heart.
Another great use of vitamin B6 is with the reduction of symptoms from premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. Since B6 plays a role in creating neurotransmitters, there is a link to a reduction of depression, anxiety and irritability which comes from PMS. There is still research being conducted to see if symptoms of PMS are due to a vitamin and mineral deficiency. It may also help reduce morning sickness in pregnant women. A healthy woman is a happy woman.
Most people get plenty of vitamin B6 from their diets but knowing how to boost your intake through food naturally is a great way to eat to enhance your mood!
Energy levels and moods change day-to-day, and when a pick-me-up is needed, using B6-rich foods can help. A vitamin B6-rich snack is also a great pre-workout when training in the afternoon or after work. It doesn’t take a lot to be highly effective.
A great vitamin B6 snack might be a spinach salad with yellowfin tuna sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. It could also look like a banana with almond butter or a hard-boiled egg. Depending on your goals, a great boost in B6 could also be chicken and potato or ground turkey and butternut squash. No matter how you choose to consume it, your body will benefit from the boost.
When food consumption isn’t enough, vitamin B6 can be taken in supplement form, either on its own, in a B complex or as a multivitamin. When ingesting any vitamin or mineral, be sure to follow the dosage recommendations. Overconsumption of vitamin B6 can appear as a lack of muscle control, skin lesions, numbness, heartburn or nausea, or possibly sensitivity to sunlight. Speaking to a nutritionist or doctor is a great way to determine the need for supplementation.
Overall having a nutritious diet high in vitamin B6-rich foods set up the body for health and happiness.
About the Author
Coach Kati Epps is the founder of MyBody GX with a background in chemistry from Colorado State University, an ACE certified personal trainer, health coach and nutrition specialist.