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Are you toxic in B6? While it might not seem obvious at first, it is an all too common occurrence for many people. That’s why I want to walk you through what it is, how it happens, and how you can avoid it. I hope you’ll join me on this journey today.
Ultimately, the role of B6 is something very personal to me. It even factored in heavily while I was designing the Daily Reset Nutrition Bundle. But, there will be more on that later. For now, let’s dive into the real story behind B6 and B6 toxicity…
The truth of the matter is that it is so easy to get too much B6. As a side effect of getting too much, we have observed a collection of unfortunate symptoms that you wouldn’t normally expect. If you can’t finish this article, here is the quick rundown:
- B6 is a very common B vitamin found in many foods
- B6 from foods is fine — it becomes an issue in processed foods
- Many people can tolerate it quite well, otherwise cannot
- You need to be critical of where you are getting B6 (and in what quantities)
B6: A Comprehensive Overview
B6 is essential. It is also present in many foods. The complicating factor is that it is also added to a wide array and amount of processed foods. In general, it is common in a wide variety of supplements, too. This is where things get tricky.
There are six different kinds of ‘vitamers’ that are called B6. What is a vitamer? It is essentially a compound within a vitamin that has its own properties relative to other vitamers. The one in B6 is most commonly pyridoxine, especially pyridoxine hydrochloride.
In order for your body to use pyridoxine, your liver has to convert it to pyridoxal-five phosphate. We will find that written as PLP or P5P most commonly.
And, if your liver function is not ideal, that conversion may be compromised (Read More: Here are 10 easy ways to love your liver today). So, people could get access to plenty of different vitamers of B6, but they have trouble activating them. This causes them to become low in it.
If someone is low in B6, they can have issues with:
- How they make their neurotransmitters
- Their methylations
- Their immune system being compromised
- Not being able to produce hemoglobin effectively
B6 deficiency does happen. When people get too little, they will often see symptoms including:
- Nerve pain
- Dry skin
- Mouth inflammation
There is an odd paradox at play here. That’s because the symptoms of B6 deficiency are almost exactly the same as those associated with B6 toxicity (having too much). Here’s why…
Key Insight: If you have too much B6, your body stops itself from converting any of it. That is why the symptoms of too much can often look the same as too little.
You can also be deficient in B6 if you:
We can see this specifically in those with thyrogastric syndrome, where an autoimmune attack against the gut occurs. Celiac disease can also cause that, and other autoimmune diseases are at play here, too.
There are also plenty of medications that can trigger B6 toxicity. But, we will dive into the subject of medications and other sources of B6 later on in this article…
How Common Is B6 Toxicity?
It’s definitely not rare! In the modern world, including the United States, data has shown that about 18-35% of adults are somewhere above range. It is also different from state to state, for a variety of reasons.
How Much B6 Do We Really Need?
Here’s the short answer: not much! All you need is about 1.9 mg from the diet for most adults, while women may need a little bit less than men. And, those who are younger or children may need quite a bit less while women breastfeeding will need more.
This is an important topic because B6 is in a whole lot of food sources. You can find it in:
- Chicken Breast
- Bananas (especially the peels!)
- Bulgur wheat
So, B6 is in a lot of foods. That said, some don’t use it that well and they can get low in it. Because of the issues surrounding toxicity, many argue against using synthetic B6.
I have chosen, years ago, not to include that in our Daily Reset Pack. We only use pyridoxal phosphate. The cool thing about that is that it doesn’t create toxicity issues, at all.
How do you know which types of B6 are safe? Here is what to look for on the ingredients list:
- Pyridoxal 5 phosphate is safe.
- Pyridoxine hydrochloride (HCl) is not.
Where Else Do You Find Synthetic B6?
There are a lot of places where you might find it. Here are some of the most common:
- Sports drinks
- Energy drinks and chews
- Nutritional yeast (most brands)
- Electrolyte supplements
- Fortified cereals
- Some herbal tea blends
Because of all these sources, it can all add up quite quickly. The earliest recognitions of B6 toxicity were in 1983, and what they found was that blood levels of B6 that were above 30 mcg per liter can correlate with toxicity.
Please know that we talked about those foods, but you will never get toxic on B6 from foods alone. You have a variety of vitamers in there, as well as amounts that are not difficult for the body to clear.
The risk comes from taking in more sources of B6 from supplements and processed foods, it can become too much. So, there have been a lot of stories of people who had symptoms like:
- Nerve pain
They have had these symptoms like overstimulation or nerve toxicity. Often, they simply chase around trying to find the cause and never think about B6 toxicity.
In fact, not only never thought about it, but in many cases, it may appear like B vitamins may help with those symptoms. Thus, compounding the problem.
While there may be some benefits in taking certain B vitamins, the synthetic ones can make it quite worse. In general, this is another reason why I am not a fan of massive amounts of nutrients.
Don’t get me wrong, we can need them because we can often get too little. But, the types that we take and the quantities are essential. And, you can quite easily get dangerous amounts of a lot of seemingly-harmless nutrients.
How Much B6 Is Too Much?
What level of B6 starts being harmful? Let’s dive into it. The studies have varied. 100 mg is too much, with no real debate. Most adults will experience complications on that amount.
However, there are reports suggesting that as little as 24 mg of B6 can be harmful for some people (which is a total cumulative dose).
B6: Action Steps
Make sure you get enough B6 in your diet! Especially from food sources, I don’t want this article to discourage you from buying potatoes or bananas at the grocery store.
We still need B6, and it is important, so it is just as important that we get it. That said, it needs to come from the right sources.
Key Insight: Salmon, tofu, chicken breasts, avocado, chickpeas, are all great sources of B6 and you should always be encouraged to enjoy them for that reason.
I also encourage supplementing with pyridoxal 5 phosphate. In the range of 5-7 mg is appropriate, and you can find 6.7 mg in the Daily Reset Nutrition Bundle.
Avoid B6 toxicity. Definitely, if you have symptoms, and even if you don’t, you need to take a look at the synthetic types of B6 you may be taking in. Consider:
- Processed foods
- Vitamin waters
- Sports products
Also, be aware of those top symptoms. If you are off in some way, with anxiety, memory loss, nerve pain, or heartburn, at least consider B6 toxicity as a possible issue.
Take Good Care Today
I hope this article about the dangers of both B6 deficiency and B6 toxicity was helpful for you. I think it is always important to think in terms of getting things just right, and that means not going to either extreme when it comes to our health.
When it comes to thinking about your health, when was the last time you thought about your thyroid? It can be such a crucial element for your health, and I would hate for it to be overlooked. Please, consider taking the Thyroid Quiz today to learn more.
P.S. Whenever you are ready, here is how I can help you now:
1. Schedule a Thyroid Second Opinion with me, Dr. C, Click Here for Details
2. Need A Thyroid Supplement Recommendation? Take My Thyroid Specific Formulations Quiz Now
3. Need a Personalized Supplement? Check out My Thyroid Specific Formulations
4. Download and use my Favorite Recipes Cookbook Here
5. Check out my podcast Medical Myths, Legends, and Fairytales Here
Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet, The Metabolism Reset Diet and The Thyroid Reset Diet.
Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, diabetes, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.