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Vitamin B6 Benefits For Weight Loss – The Ultimate Guide
BY AMANDA BERRY
May 10th 2019
What are the benefits of vitamin B6 for weight loss? We’ve been asked this question a few times, and it’s one we’re more than happy to answer. This article covers all of the questions you might have about vitamin B6.
After reading you’ll have a firm understanding of:
- What vitamin B6 is
- How your body uses it
- The health benefits
- The weight loss benefits
- Safe amounts of vitamin B6 to take
- The potential side effects
In short, everything you need to know about vitamin B6.
We’ll start with a look at what B6 is…
What is Vitamin B6?
The name technically refers to a group of compounds rather than one chemical, but they have very similar structures and functions (and don’t worry: We’re not going to go into them all).
One of these compounds, pyridoxine, is commonly used as a dietary supplement, thanks to its host of benefits.
Pyridoxine is what most people are talking about when they mention vitamin B6.
How Does The Body Use Vitamin B6?
Vitamins are molecules used by the body to keep us alive, and there are twelve that the body needs: A, B, C, D, E, and K.
“… but that’s only six!” you may be thinking.
That’s because vitamin B refers to eight smaller compounds: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12.
(There are reasons vitamins B4, B8, B10, B11, F, G, H, I, and J are missing, but we won’t go into that here!)
Vitamins are organic compounds, meaning they contain carbon. This is what distinguishes vitamins from minerals, incidentally. Each vitamin contributes in slightly different ways to the body’s metabolism. Things like cell and tissue growth, macronutrient metabolism, antioxidation, coagulation of blood, and tons more.
The presence of vitamins also allows other reactions and processes in the body to occur.
Vitamin B6 helps the body to store the energy from protein and carbohydrates in your diet. It also helps the body to make haemoglobin, which is used for carrying oxygen in the blood.
We’ll dig deeper into the health and weight loss benefits in the next section.
But first we’ll briefly cover foods that contain vitamin B6, and how to tell whether you have a B6 deficiency.
Vitamin B6 isn’t particularly elusive. It is found in pork, chicken, turkey, and fish, as well as plenty of non-meat ingredients. Bread, oatmeal, brown rice, soya beans, eggs, and vegetables are all good sources of B6.
Symptoms of B6 deficiency include scaling of the lips and cracks in the corners of your mouth, a swollen tongue, anaemia, weakened immune function, and confusion (1).
It’s unlikely that you’ll have a deficiency of just B6, though. Usually people have a B Complex deficiency – that means B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12 are all low.
This can be fixed by taking a B Complex supplement in most cases.
But let’s hear some more about the benefits of B6!
What Are The Benefits For The Body When Taking Vitamin B6?
Vitamin B6 has been the subject of lots of research since its discovery by a man called Elmer McCollum, way back in 1915.
After more than a hundred years of studies we have quite a firm understanding of the role of B6 in human physiology.
The US National Library of Medicine (2) says that “vitamin B6 is required for the proper function of sugars, fats, and proteins in the body”, so it’s quite important.
A scientific opinion (3) published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found the following properties for vitamin B6:
- Contribution to normal energy-yielding metabolism
- Contribution to normal homocysteine metabolism
- Contribution to normal psychological functions
- Contribution to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue
A cause and effect relationship was established between vitamin B6 and each of these health benefits.
And because it is the EFSA’s job is to assess properties of foods and provide scientific advice on their nutritional value, you know this is good, trustworthy information.
Vitamin B6 Benefits For Weight Loss
The list above is great but let’s be honest: This is the quest most of us want answered.
Not all of those health benefits have an impact on weight loss.
The ones we’re interested in then, are
- Contribution to normal energy-yielding metabolism
- Contribution to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue
A few other weight loss benefits have been found in scientific studies – we’ll take a look at these too:
- One study found that “taking B6 supplements has been found to improve the ratio between fat and lean muscle in your body” (4)
- Another study found that “many phases of fat metabolism—transport, deposition, oxidation, and synthesis—are influenced by pyridoxine.” (5)
Read on to find out how each of these things will benefit your weight loss efforts.
Normal energy-yielding metabolism
This refers to your body breaking down the proteins and carbohydrates in your food, and turning them into energy you use to fuel your daily activities.
So in short, normal energy-yielding metabolism is how your body fuels itself.
The presence of vitamin B6 is required for the reactions in your body that get energising sugars from food, and store them in glycogen deposits for use later on.
But what does that mean, exactly?
The body stores glucose – the sugar it uses for energy – in bundles called glycogen.
When you eat, some of the sugar goes into your blood to be used as fuel, and the rest is stored as glycogen.
Your body can store about enough glucose for a day’s worth of energy. These are the reserves that are used to fuel a person between meals.
When the time comes for the body to get usable glucose from the glycogen storage, enzymes are sent to do the job.
Vitamin B6 is a coenzyme in this process, meaning it must be present for the reaction to take place.
Transport, deposition, oxidation, and synthesis of fats
A study found that vitamin B6 “contributes to fatty acid biosynthesis” (6), the process by which your body uses fats in food.
When you eat fat, your body breaks it down into fatty acids.
Some of these are used right away to give you energy.
But what happens to the fatty acids that aren’t used right away?
The body stores these in bundles called ‘triglycerides’. These bundles are then stored in fat cells, and fat cells have a lot of space.
If you eat more fat than you need it’s stored away until your body needs the energy it holds. And the more that is stored, the more fat you have on your body.
This means that if you don’t exercise enough your body will keep the fatty acids in storage, where it will be visible from the outside as fat.
B6 is present throughout the process of getting the energy from triglycerides, known as fat metabolism. In order to burn fat, this process needs to take place!
(Not too dissimilar to glucose and glycogen, really).
Improved ratio between fat and lean muscle
The goal of weight loss is to reduce the amount of fat on your body, and to maintain this new, healthy body composition.
B6 was found to have positive effects on many body composition measures (4).
The researchers in this study found that B6 supplementation preserved weight loss in the legs, and reduced the ratio of fat in the hips and waist.
Reduction of tiredness and fatigue
A B6 deficiency can cause anaemia, “which may lead to symptoms of weakness, tiredness or fatigue” (3).
Anaemia refers to low amounts of red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood, meaning your blood transports less oxygen around the body.
Because oxygen is required to fuel aerobic exercise, anaemia can get in the way of a healthy, active lifestyle.
You just can’t push yourself as hard if there’s not enough oxygen in your bloodstream.
Reduction of tiredness and fatigue is the goal of anyone trying to stay fit and healthy.
How Much Vitamin B6 Should You Take For Best Results?
The US National Library of Medicine gives the following recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for vitamin B6 (2):
- 1.3mg for females aged 19-50
- 1.5mg for females aged 50+
- 1.9mg for pregnant women
- 2mg for women who are breastfeeding
The unit of measure here is milligram, and one milligram is a thousandth of a gram. (So 1.3mg is 0.0013 grams).
This may sound like a very small amount, but it’s amazing what the body can do with it.
Are There Any Side Effects of Vitamin B6?
Too much of anything can be bad for you, but it is very hard to accidentally take the amount of B6 required to trigger adverse effects.
Excess B6 is not stored in the body, so there is little risk from taking too much. One study found that 90% of surplus B6 was eliminated via urine (7), which suggests your body has an effective mechanism for getting rid of extra.
It is good to be aware of the risks though, even if they are low.
The US National Library of Medicine gives a list of possible side effects for ingesting vitamin B6, which includes “nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, headache, tingling, sleepiness, and other side effects”.
There is also research that suggests long-term B6 supplementation (a year or more) can cause nerve damage, which usually stops once you stop taking the supplement (8).
It should be noted, though, that all of these effects are associated with amounts that are a long way over the RDAs that we covered in the previous section.
The upper recommended daily limit for vitamin B6 is 100mg, over fifty times higher than the RDA…
So even if you took a special B6 supplement alongside the recommended dose of Leanbean, you would still be less than one sixth of the way to this amount.
Vitamin B6 is an important macronutrient in glucose and fat metabolism. It has several noted health benefits, and several noted weight loss benefits.
Since its discovery in 1915, a wealth of scientific literature has developed around vitamin B6 and its role in human nutrition. We have a firm understanding of the role it plays, and the benefits it can deliver.
Pyridoxine – the form of vitamin B6 used in Leanbean – has been found to help your body break down and use sugars and fats, and to store them correctly in the body for use later. This metabolic effect contributes to healthy metabolism, which itself is associated with healthy lifestyles and weight loss.
It has also been found to reduce tiredness and fatigue, by preventing anaemia and ensuring enough oxygen is transported via your bloodstream.
And some studies found a positive correlation between B6 supplementation and favourable muscle to fat ratio.
A supplement that contains B6, taken in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle could contribute to weight loss. A healthy lifestyle refers to a diet with a caloric deficit that is safe for your body type, and regular exercise.
We hope this article has answered any questions you may have had about vitamin B6!
Here you can create the content that will be used within the module.
- National Institutes of Health. Vitamin B6. Link.
- Medline Plus. Vitamin B6. Link.
- EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products. Scientific Opinion on the Substantiation of Health Claims Related to Vitamin B6.
- Shakibay et al. The Weight Loss Effects of Branched Chain Amino Acids and Vitamin B6: A Randomized Controlled Trial on Obese and Overweight Women.
- Sherman, H. Pyridoxine and Fat Metabolism.