Especially if you don’t have enough, like I do. Most people don’t get enough of the right nutrition eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) and B6 is one of those very important and often overlooked vitamins. What happens when you don’t get enough? Well, that is what I set out to learn.
Just over a week ago my husband and I visited with a biochemist and had our saliva and urine analyzed. I want to find out what supplements I needed and which ones could my body get along without. I didn’t want to mess up my liver with to many of a “good thing”. On the other hand, I wanted to give my body all the nutrition it’s been starving for. After all, if I was in the perfect state of health I wouldn’t have congestive heart failure. I want to be one of the few people who reverse this dreaded, but unfortunately, number one killer in America today. I also have Crohn’s Disease, more about both of these conditions later. Today my focus is on the connection with heart disease but I promise a future post on B6 and Crohn’s Disease.
Did you know that a vitamin B6 deficiency can cause extreme anxiety? As a society we aren’t getting enough of the B vitamins in our diet. Some patients that are B6 deficient could be suffering from a condition, Pyroluria which can cause anxiety and/or depression.
A Little History of Me and B6
I had been “prescribed” supplements of B6 several times in my life. It seems to be an ongoing issue for me but none of the doctors I visited wanted to discuss vitamins and health with me. In the 1980’s when I was pregnant, both times I was instructed by my OB/GYN to take additional B6 with my pregnancy due to horrible morning sickness that lasted 24/7. I was already underweight (in their opinion) so I was treated with this supplement therapy that worked like a charm. I could always tell when I had taken my vitamins. If I missed my dose I would feel queasy and sick at my stomach.
The summer of 2014, I wasn’t feeling good and I suspected a vitamin deficiency might be the culprit. I had already had experience with a vitamin D deficiency so I asked to have some blood tests done. I requested my B vitamins also be checked given my earlier history. The results came back with a deficiency of B6. I started supplementing the daily dose of the B6 found in a good “B complex” that provided a balance of the various B vitamins. However, now I know that wasn’t enough, not nearly enough. On December 16, 2014, I suffered sudden cardiac arrest and was one of the lucky 7% who survive. I was meant to tell you this story.
Let’s start at the beginning and learn a little more about B6.My first stop was B6 Fact Sheet – NIH Dietary Supplements where I learned a lot of information and you will too.
Did You Know There is More Than One Version of B6?
The B vitamin that is in the standard B complex is the B6 (pyridoxine HCl) which is a synthetic version of B6. I also learned that most people don’t get enough of the PLP or also known as P5P, the bioavailable form of B6 (see below).
Most children, adolescents, and adults in the United States consume the recommended amounts of vitamin B6, according to an analysis of data from the 2003–2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) . The average vitamin B6 intake is about 1.5 mg/day in women and 2 mg/day in men .
However, 11% of vitamin B6 supplement users and 24% of people in the United States who do not take supplements containing vitamin B6 have low plasma PLP concentrations (less than 20 nmol/L) . In the 2003–2004 NHANES analysis, plasma PLP concentrations were low even in some groups that took 2.0–2.9 mg/day, which is higher than the current RDA. Among supplement users and nonusers, plasma PLP levels were much lower in women than men, non-Hispanic blacks than non-Hispanic whites, current smokers than never smokers, and people who were underweight than those of normal weight. Teenagers had the lowest vitamin B6 concentrations, followed by adults aged 21–44 years. However, plasma PLP levels in the elderly were not particularly low, even in those who did not use supplements. Based on these data, the authors of this analysis concluded that the current RDAs might not guarantee adequate vitamin B6 status in many population groups .
PLP concentrations tend to be low in people with alcohol dependence; those who are obese; and pregnant women, especially those with preeclampsia or eclampsia . They are also low in people with malabsorption syndromes such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis .
Foods High in B6
I love bananas. I am feeling so much better since I decided to start treating my gut first and addressing my life long Crohn’s Disease issues. I started on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) that was once termed the “banana diet” in the 1920’s when it was first developed by Drs. Haas. Guess what? Bananas are high in B6, but only the ripe and speckled bananas are good to eat for people with digestive complaints. The starch in the banana has been converted into a monosaccharide sugar that is easy enough to digest even for a beat up intestinal tract to handle.
- Sunflower seeds
- Pistachio nuts
- Turkey and chicken
- Lean pork
- Dried fruit (such as prunes)
- Lean beef
Heart Disease and B6 Connection
More proof from the above referenced article on B6 from the NIH and I quote below.
Vitamin B6 and Health
Scientists have hypothesized that certain B vitamins (folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6) might reduce cardiovascular disease risk by lowering homocysteine levels [1,12]. Therefore, several clinical trials have assessed the safety and efficacy of supplemental doses of B vitamins to reduce heart disease risk. Evaluating the impact of vitamin B6 from many of these trials is challenging because these studies also included folic acid and vitamin B12 supplementation. For example, the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation 2 (HOPE 2) trial, which included more than 5,500 adults with known cardiovascular disease, found that supplementation for 5 years with vitamin B6 (50 mg/day), vitamin B12 (1 mg/day), and folic acid (2.5 mg/day) reduced homocysteine levels and decreased stroke risk by about 25%, but the study did not include a separate vitamin B6 group .
Moreover, most other large clinical trials have failed to demonstrate that supplemental B vitamins actually reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, even though they lower homocysteine levels. For example, a randomized clinical trial in 5,442 women aged 42 or older found no effect of vitamin B6 supplementation (50 mg/day) in combination with 2.5 mg folic acid and 1 mg vitamin B12 on cardiovascular disease risk . Two large randomized controlled trials, the Norwegian Vitamin Trial and the Western Norway B Vitamin Intervention Trial, did include a group that received only vitamin B6 supplements (40 mg/day). The combined analysis of data from these two trials showed no benefit of vitamin B6 supplementation, with or without folic acid (0.8 mg/day) plus vitamin B12 (0.4 mg/day), on major cardiovascular events in 6,837 patients with ischemic heart disease . In a trial of adults who had suffered a nondisabling stroke, supplementation with high or low doses of a combination of vitamins B6 and B12 and folic acid for 2 years had no effect on subsequent stroke incidence, cardiovascular events, or risk of death .
The research to date provides little evidence that supplemental amounts of vitamin B6, alone or with folic acid vitamin B12, can help reduce the risk or severity of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
B6 Deficiency and Heart Disease – More Search Results
Today I decided to see what the connection between B6 deficiency and heart disease was. Somehow I knew, at least in my case, that the two were connected. Did you know about this rare genetic disorder that is treated with none other than, drum roll please….yes, you guessed it, B6.
The first link I followed after my search results was for Sideroblastic anemia which led me to learn more. The second link I happened to explore from my searched links was about Homocystinuria. This seemed more applicable in my case and I delved a bit deeper into the subject so I could understand further why B6 is so important. If you want to see how B6 fits into the metabolic process that also includes information about MTHFR in the scheme of things watch this video, Metabolism of Methionine. Warning it may make your head explode, if you aren’t a biochemist…but it gives you a “picture” to see the B6 in the various steps our body needs to function. It is interesting to me that with both of my pregnancies I craved nuts. The first time it was boiled peanuts (I’m from Georgia) and the second pregnancy I wanted pistachios. Cravings in pregnancy often give us clues as to what the body needs, especially during pregnancy. The commonality of these two nuts were their content of methionine.
So all of this biochemistry involves a functioning Cystathionine beta synthase (CBS) enzyme pathway that can get mucked up for people like me with MTHFR issues. This pathway converts homocysteine back into methionine in a cyclical fashion. After my sudden cardiac event my homocysteine levels were very high. I was tested for MTHFR and prescribed a methylated version of the folate and B12 vitamins in a combination supplement. However this supplement included the synthetic form of B6 which I could not assimilate. I also found the following information enlightening for my study on B6, so I’ve included the link for you as well, Homocystinuria due to CBS deficiency.
Inherited Metabolic Disorders
I ultimately found this gem of a list that includes things I’ve never heard of and am grateful I don’t have. I have enough troubles without borrowing any. However, this is a great resource for people that find themselves with metabolism issues.
MTHFR and CBS Genetic Mutations
To learn more about CBS genetic mutations, treatment with B6 from the MTHFR expert, Dr. Ben Lynch watch this video. Caution, it is very complex and is intended for medical professionals or some really inquisitive health geeks.
I Need Your Help
B6 is vital for life. My body can only use the P5P (PLP) bioactive form and not the synthetic form of B6. Currently this P5P is available over the counter without a prescription. But a couple of drug companies are trying to change all that and the FDA is acting on behalf of the drug companies to do just that. The Alliance For Natural Health is fighting this corporate move and is asking for your help to sign a petition to keep this from happening. Please take a moment and complete the petition (follow link above) to keep the natural form of B6 on the market and available for people like me.