You know that surge of energy you get after eating a really good meal? You can thank B vitamins for that. Our bodies use B vitamins to convert the food we eat into usable energy.
Vitamin B6 plays a critical role in more than 100 essential processes in the body.1 It helps regulate our metabolism, is vital to red blood cell production, helps keep the immune system strong and healthy, and is key to maintaining a healthy nervous system. B6 may also help combat inflammation in the body and reduce the risk of heart and blood vessel disease and stroke.
And it may come at no surprise that vitamin B6 plays an especially important role during pregnancy and fetal development, too.
To help break it down, we caught up with Obstetrician/Gynecologist and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Doctor, Amber Samuel, MD, OB/GYN & MFM, to learn more about the benefits of vitamin B6 during pregnancy and postpartum.
Benefits of Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 aids in the development of a baby’s central nervous system during pregnancy.2
“B6 is vital for the formation of a healthy fetal nervous system—most importantly early in pregnancy," says Samuel. "This development happens in the first few weeks of pregnancy, sometimes before a woman is aware that they are pregnant."
That's why we recommend adding a B6 supplement to your daily routine when trying to conceive. Perelel’s first-trimester vitamin packs are targeted for early pregnancy and include extra B6 when you need it most. It may help support a baby's brain development during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, vitamin B6 supports your baby's brain development.
A baby’s brain grows fast. At birth, an infant is only about six percent of his or her eventual adult body weight but the brain is already 25 percent of its final weight.
Vitamin B6 plays an essential role in proper brain growth and development. Not only does this nutrient help regulate energy usage in the brain, but also it is essential to the production of neurotransmitters. There is also evidence that suggests that a vitamin B6 deficiency may have a negative impact on learning and memory function.3
Plus, the brain-boosting benefits of vitamin B6 extend beyond the early years of childhood. Studies suggest that a vitamin B6 deficiency in adults may be linked to cognitive decline and dementia.4 Additionally, research has linked higher blood levels of B6 with improved memory.5
It may help treat nausea and morning sickness.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), at least half of all pregnant women experience morning sickness.6 If you’re one of them, you know just how debilitating these symptoms can be.
But there’s good news. Several studies have found that vitamin B6 may help reduce nausea and vomiting during pregnancy and supplementing with vitamin B6 is recommended by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).7
Perelel’s 1st Trimester Prenatal Pack includes an Anti-Nausea Blend with extra B6 and ginger.
“This is a vital time to support your baby's organ and neural development with a full-spectrum prenatal and extra folate,” says Samuel. “Additionally, the Anti-Nausea formula eases those first trimester waves of symptoms.”
It may help boost your mood.
Approximately seven percent of women experience depression during pregnancy8 and up to 80 percent of women will experience "the baby blues" postpartum.9
But several studies have established a connection between a low mood and low levels of vitamin B6.10 Why? There are several reasons. For one, vitamin B6 helps create mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Secondly, it helps reduce levels of homocysteine, the amino acid associated with depression.11 And finally, B6 aids in the production of melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone. Meaning adequate B6 intake may help with a more restful night’s sleep and a happier outlook.12
Note, if you are experiencing overwhelming feelings of low mood, hopelessness, tearfulness, thoughts that life is not worth living or your baby would be better off without you, reach out to your healthcare practitioner immediately as these may be signs of postpartum depression and they’ll be able to give resources to help you
It may be useful in treating Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).
If you suffer from bloating, cramps, headaches or moodiness around your period each month, you’re not alone. Research reveals that more than 90 percent of women experience PMS.13
Multiple studies suggest that adding a vitamin B6 supplement to your daily routine may reduce PMS symptoms.6
Vitamin B6 Deficiency Symptoms
Most people get adequate amounts of vitamin B6 through their diet but some people are at risk for vitamin B6 deficiency. Severe deficiencies are typically seen in those with kidney disease, autoimmune disorders and alcohol dependence.1
Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency can include fatigue, skin rashes, mouth sores, cardiac symptoms, confusion, depression, a weakened immune system and anemia.
Vitamin B6 Toxicity Symptoms
Additionally, too high of vitamin B6 intake can be dangerous and cause toxicity.
Symptoms of B6 toxicity can include nausea, headache, drowsiness, numbness or tingling, sensitivity to light, and gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and heartburn.
If you feel like you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend consulting with your medical practitioner.
Sources of Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that whatever your body can’t store is passed through.1 Your body does not make vitamin B6 on its own, so you must get B6 through food or supplementation.
The top 10 food sources of B6 are sunflower seeds, pistachios, fish like tuna and salmon, poultry, lean pork, dried fruit such as prunes, raisins and apricots, lean beef, bananas, avocados and spinach.
Additional food sources include nuts, beans, potatoes, chickpeas, grains, non-citrus fruits and non-starchy vegetables. Many cereals are also fortified with vitamin B6 and you can of course add supplements to additional support a healthy diet.
Ready to add more vitamin B6 to your diet? Shop the Perelel 1st Trimester Pack now and get more tips from an OB/GYN for navigating your first trimester of pregnancy.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.
3 Vitamins and neural and cognitive developmental outcomes in children. www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/vitamins-and-neural-and-cognitive-developmental-outcomes-in-children/A8B57D052971A94316E9D1FFCBD3CC47