From studies, pyridoxine has been shown to help prevent heart disease. The amount of homocysteine in the blood is regulated by at least three vitamins: folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6. One of the most important effect from vitamin B6 is keeping your red blood cells from getting "sticky" and clumping together, or aggregating. When that happens, the cells release powerful chemicals that eventually cause arteriosclerosis deposits that clog up your arteries and could lead to a heart attack or stroke. If enough cells clump together, they form a clot that blocks an artery. Again, the result is a heart attack or stroke.
If you're at risk for arteriosclerosis or already have it, taking Vitamin B6 pyridoxine supplements could slow down the process. Here is another fact: people who just had heart attacks have low levels of pyridoxine. Several large observational studies have demonstrated an association between low vitamin B6 intake or status with increased blood homocysteine levels and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
A large prospective study found the risk of heart disease in women who consumed, on average, 4.6 mg of vitamin B6 daily to be only 67% of the risk in women who consumed an average of 1.1 mg daily. Another large prospective study found higher plasma levels of PLP to be associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, independent of homocysteine levels. In contrast to folic acid supplementation, studies of vitamin B6 supplementation alone have not resulted in significant decreases of fasting levels of homocysteine. However, vitamin B6 supplementation has been found effective in lowering blood homocysteine levels after an oral dose of methionine (methionine load test) was given, suggesting it may play a role in the metabolism of homocysteine after meals.
Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine and Immune System
You need all the B vitamins for your immune system to function properly, but pyridoxine is the key. Without it, you can't produce enough of the special infection-fighting cells that fend off illness. Low vitamin B6 intake and status have been associated with impaired immune function, especially in the elderly, as well as alcoholics, cancer patients, and others. Studies suggest that adequate vitamin B6 intake is important for optimal immune system function in older individuals. However, one study found that the amount of vitamin B-6 required to reverse these immune system impairments in the elderly was 2.9 mg/day for men and 1.9 mg/day for women, more than the current RDA.
Elderly people are very vulnerable to illness - and up to a third of all elderly people have low pyridoxine levels. In part, that's because you just absorb less of the Vitamin B's from your food as you grow older. It's also because many elderly people don't eat well, especially if they live alone or in a nursing home. The lack of pyridoxine makes them more likely to get sick and also makes them take longer to get better. If you're over age 60 or if your immune system isn't working well for some reason, be sure to get some B supplements, especially vitamin B6, or to play it safe, take a good daily multivitamin as well.
Pyridoxine and Diabetic Complications
People with diabetes sometimes get a painful nerve condition called diabetic neuropathy. The symptoms are similar to the symptoms you would get with severe pyridoxine deficiency - and many diabetics are low on pyridoxine. Is there a connection? Some researchers say yes. They feel diabetic neuropathy could be prevented by taking 150 mg of pyridoxine daily. If you have diabetes and want to try pyridoxine to treat or prevent diabetic neuropathy, take some extra pyridoxine may just help.
Pyridoxine and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Your wrist is a marvel of engineering. To make this joint flexible, bones, ligaments, and muscles all come tightly together, leaving only a narrow passage - the carpal tunnel - for the nerves leading to your hand. If anything swells up in your wrist, even a little, it presses on the passage and squeezes the nerves. The result? Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), a painful problem that is becoming very common. Carpal tunnel syndrome causes numbness, pain, and weakness of the hand and fingers due to compression of the median nerve at the wrist which sometimes occurs with pregnancy or hypothyroidism. Women seem to to get CTS more often than men.
Several early studies by the same investigator suggested that vitamin B6 status was low in individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome and that supplementation with 100-200 mg/day over several months was beneficial. A recent study found decreased blood levels of PLP to be associated with increased pain, tingling, and nocturnal wakening, all symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, in men who were not taking vitamins. Many people claim that pyridoxine supplements help or even "cure" CTS. It's possible that pyridoxine can help, however, if it's taken in moderate doses (150 mg a day) along with other treatments, such as physical therapy and drugs to relieve the swelling.
Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine Supplements
While extreme Vitamin B6 deficiency is rare, marginal deficiency are more common. Certain groups are at a greater risk of Pyridoxine deficiency, including the elderly, alcoholic, and women on high-dose oral contraceptives-although the studies done with contraceptives were conducted when the level of estrogen in the pill was three of five times higher than the oral agents used today.
When deficiencies occur, they are usually associated with other nutrient deficiencies. For example, since riboflavin is needed for the production of B6, a deficiency in riboflavin could lead to low levels of B6. The earliest symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency are changes in the nervous system, which can be seen on an EEG (electroencephalogram). Severe deficiency may result in seizures, dermatitis, glossitis (smooth tongue), cheilosis (cracking of corners of the mouth), stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth), irritability, and anemia.
Vitamin B6 supplementation has been used in the treatment of or in an attempt to prevent, a number of diseases, including Down's Syndrome, autism, gestational diabetes (diabetic neuropathy. pregnancy), premenstrual syndrome, CTS, and diabetic neuropathy.