Back to the B vitamins! This is the second one on my list of the fabulous four. Don’t let that confuse you. All the B vitamins are important and necessary for good health. I’m focusing on the ones that are vital for brain health.
B6 is a water-soluble vitamin necessary for the conversion of stored blood sugar to glucose, the brain’s fuel! Though B6 comes in three different forms, pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine, each one is readily absorbed and utilized by the body. In the Nutritional Almanac it is said to be “one of the most valued and recommended nutrients, and one of the most well researched”.
With this vitamin, it’s all about conversion! I already mentioned glucose, but B6 also helps in the conversion of one amino acid to another as well as the conversion of protein to fats and carbohydrates into energy and storage. Without B6, your body doesn’t work so well.
Wait, there’s more! Here are some more B6 functions:
- Production of protein compounds for
o the immune system
o serotonin (brain’s feel good chemical)
o RNA and DNA
o and many enzymes-more than sixty of them!
- Activates the release of glycogen from the liver and muscles
- Helps protect blood vessels
- Helps with circulation so helps improve memory
- For PMS sufferers, it also helps alleviate some of the premenstrual symptoms
- Helps maintain the balance of sodium and potassium, which by the way, is vital to the proper functioning of the nervous system.
- Aids in the conversion of tryptophan to niacin
- And it’s involved with helping essential fatty acids work better in the body and brain.
All in all, pretty impressive! Makes you want to run out and buy a bottle of the stuff. Before you do though, you may want to read what I have to say about all four fabulous B vitamins as they work better in combination. But that will come later.
I mentioned that B6 was one of the most studied nutrients; well all the research isn’t in yet. Recent studies show low levels of B6 in patients with Alzheimer’s and low levels can lead to convulsions and memory problems. It’s interesting to note that the enzymes B6 helps produce, play a role in the development of major neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. For instance, loss of dopamine is associated with the movement challenges of Parkinson’s patients. Makes you wonder what came first, disease or deficiency.
What I find most intriguing is the number of papers presenting studies on autism and B6. It’s a condition that can present major life challenges for both parent and child. In relation to B6,, children with autism have a more difficult time detoxifying toxins like heavy metals and xenobiotics. B6 helps the body detox, especially in the brain and some protocols actually use it in their detoxification programs.
The important thing to remember is that B6 doesn’t do its best work alone, it needs a few partners to really shine. Stay tuned for the last two of the fabulous four B vitamins.
Check out tip #17 for info on B12!