Can Vitamin B6 Help You Lose Weight?
Vitamin B6 is widely believed to promote weight loss and it is a common part of weight loss plans. However, there are no studies to back this claim but that may be because there are precious few studies on vitamin B6 and weight loss. So, can vitamin B6 help you lose weight? Read on to find out.
by Brad Chase
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble micronutrient also known as pyridoxine. It is a member of the B vitamins and its active form is pyridoxal phosphate. Besides pyridoxal phosphate, there are six other forms of the vitamin.
Vitamin B6 is important as a cofactor to many enzymes involved in lipid and amino acid metabolism as well as the conversion of glycogen to glucose.
Apart from its roles in the metabolism of various nutrients, vitamin B6 is also involved in production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine and gamma aminobutyric acid or GABA. The vitamin is also essential to the syntheses of histamine and hemoglobin as well as in the expression of genes.
Food sources of vitamin B6 abound, and the vitamin is available both in free and bound forms.
Excellent dietary sources of vitamin B6 include vegetable, nuts, meats and whole grain. Fresh food is usually a better source of the vitamin than processed food. This is because of the fact that the vitamin is water-soluble and is easily lost during cooking and even storage.
The daily recommended intake values of vitamin B6 range between 1 and 1.5 mg per day. Pregnant and lactating women need more (1.9 – 2 mg per day) while children need less (0.5 – 1 mg per day).
Since vitamin B6 is water-soluble, its toxicity potential is low. Therefore, the upper limit is 100 mg per day for adults.
Even though food sources of vitamin B6 cannot cause toxicity reactions, vitamin B6 supplements can.
Long-term supplementation of doses higher than the daily recommended intake have been known to cause painful and permanent neurological damage.
On the other hand, vitamin B6 deficiency can also cause neurological damage which presents as neuropathy and mental confusion. Other signs of vitamin B6 deficiency include skin diseases including dermatitis and ulceration; and conjunctivitis.
Vitamin B6 deficiency can also cause impaired metabolism of amino acids. When this deficiency affects gluconeogenesis, it may lead to impaired insulin tolerance. Vitamin B6 deficiency is common among the elderly, alcoholics as well as people living with liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes and HIV infection.
Vitamin B6 is routinely recommended for the treatment of a number of medical conditions but only a few of these uses has been confirmed by well-founded research evidence.
Vitamin B6 is known to prevent the accumulation of homocysteine in the body, therefore, it is effective for reducing the risk of heart attack. It also does this by lowering cholesterol levels in the blood as well as reducing the blood pressure.
Given the importance of vitamin B6 in serotonin synthesis, it is also effective as a supplement for improving mental depression.
Other conditions that preliminary studies suggest may improve with vitamin B6 supplementation include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s disease and some symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
There is no clinical evidence to suggest that vitamin B6 can be used to achieve weight loss.
However, this does not mean that vitamin B6 does not work in this regard; it only means that this effect has not been studied in a large, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study.
Quite a number of weight loss programs recommend vitamin B6 supplementation. While there are only a few evidences to point to the usefulness of vitamin B6 for this indication, it may contribute to weight loss nevertheless. However, it should not be the mainstay of your weight loss program.
Weight is the net result of the amount of calories you ingest and the amount you burn. Therefore, weight loss can be achieved by taking in less calories, by burning more calories or by the combination of the two approaches.
In the case of vitamin B6, it can help burn up more calories. More specifically, the benefits of vitamin B6 starts with gluconeogenesis, its ability to turn glycogen into glucose.
Glycogen is a stored energy source. It is found in the liver and although it does not add as much to weight to the body’s bulk like fat, it has its own effects.
By promoting by the conversion of glycogen to glucose, vitamin B6 increases the energy level of the body without the need to ingest more carbs. In this way, vitamin B6 reduces the amount of calories ingested into the body while burning up more of the calories stored up in the body.
In addition, by increasing the efficiency of carbohydrate metabolism, vitamin B6 prevents the accumulation of fat which may increase the body’s weight.
Some experts also claim that vitamin B6 increase thyroid hormone function. The hormones released from the thyroid gland speed up metabolism. They help burn energy and one of the benefits of increased metabolism is weight loss.
Thyroid hormones not only burn the glucose available in the blood but also strip fats from their storage sites. By depleting the fat stores in the body, vitamin B6 can reduce the bulk that is responsible for most of the weight of the body.
Lastly, vitamin B6 has a mild diuretic effect. This means that vitamin B6 promotes the elimination of fluids in the kidney along with urine.
This effect is especially useful for losing weight if the weight gain is due to edema.
The inclusion of vitamin B6 in weight loss diet can be through food sources, vitamin B6 pills or injections.
When given as injection, vitamin B6 is often combined with vitamin B12 pills. The combination is believed to increase metabolic rate by enhancing thyroid hormone functioning.
However, long-term use of vitamin B6 injection may lower thyroid function after the injections are stopped.
Whatever form of vitamin B6 is used, the daily dose should not exceed 100 mg. Long-term treatment with 100 mg or more of this vitamin can cause some serious side effects including spinal degeneration, insomnia, heart palpitation, increased cholesterol levels, calcium deficiency and high magnesium levels.
In conclusion, the best way to use vitamin B6 is to include it as part of an effective weight loss regimen. It does not substitute for the right weight loss diet or regular cardio workouts.
Although vitamin B6 may provide some benefits for losing weight, there are no studies to back this claim and it should not be assumed to work this way.
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