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Pyridoxine deficiency diseases are really rare. There were a few cases in the United States in 1952, when a maker of infant formula forgot to add vitamin B6, and it's also possible to become pyridoxine-deficient if you are taking the drug penicillamine for arthritis, scleroderma, or arsenic poisoning, or if you are taking the high-dose form of niacin known as Isoniazid for high cholesterol.
Even in the developing world, almost every manages to get enough vitamin B6 to avoid the classic symptoms of pyridoxine deficiency, which are anemia, inflamed lips, inflamed eyes, and personality changes sometimes leading to seizures. That isn't to say that everyone gets all the pyridoxine they need.
How pyridoxine prevents depression, fatigue, and overweight. Pyridoxine is very important in the human body as a co-enzyme. A co-enzyme is a substance that binds to an enzyme to activate it for a chemical reaction. Without the pyridoxal 5-phosphate the body manufacturers from pyridoxine, the body could not make natural steroids that control inflammation. It could not use selenium to fight free radicals. It could not recycle homocysteine, which becomes inflammatory to the blood vessels and brain when it is present in excess.
But the most noticeable effect of not having enough vitamin B6 for most of us is in the brain. Vitamin B6 helps keep an amino acid called tryptophan from getting broken down by the liver. (The liver can, to a limited extent, turn tryptophan into niacin, when niacin is deficient.) When there's more trytophan in circulation, more gets into the brain, where it is turned into a hormone called serotonin.
Serotonin is a mood elevating hormone. When your brain makes enough serotonin, you don't feel depressed. You have more energy, but not too much. You don't get the "munchies" as much, either.
That's because sugar also helps trytophan travel across the blood-brain barrier into the brain. If you are getting enough trytophan into your brain with the help of pyridoxine, then you don't get sugar and snack cravings. This helps help you lose weight, if you are dieting, or keep it off, if you aren't.
Who needs more vitamin B6? There are four groups of people who need more than the minimum recommended daily intake of pyridoxine, also known as vitamin B6.
Most people should not take just a pyridoxine/B6 supplement. There is always a balance between niacin (B3), methylcobalamin (B12), and getting the full range of amino acids. But getting a balance of B vitamins can be helpful in an enormous range of health conditions, including acne/rosacea, autism, attention deficit disorder and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, depression, high homocysteine, heart disease, elevated lipid levels, immune depression, morning sickness, depression associated with pregnancy, depression associated with oral contraceptive use, premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, menopause symptoms, age-related cognitive decline and memory loss that is not caused by Alzheimer's, muscle cramps, chapped lips, conjunctivitis, bladder infections, high blood pressure, water retention, diabetic kidney disease, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, canker sores (aphthous ulcers), many forms of schizophrenia, vertigo,and overweight.