Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Access

Non-nutritional uses of vitamin B6

  • David A. Bender (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 09 March 2007

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin, and is readily metabolized and excreted, so it has generally been assumed to have negligible toxicity, although at very high levels of intake it can cause peripheral nerve damage. Nutritional deficiency disease is extremely rare, although a significant proportion of the population shows biochemical evidence of inadequate status, despite apparently adequate levels of intake. The vitamin has been used to treat a wide variety of conditions, which may or may not be related to inadequate intake. In some conditions use of vitamin B6 supplements has been purely empirical; in other conditions there is a reasonable physiological or metabolic mechanism to explain why supplements of the vitamin many times greater than average requirements may have therapeutic uses. However, even in such conditions there is little evidence of efficacy from properly conducted controlled trials.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Non-nutritional uses of vitamin B6
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Non-nutritional uses of vitamin B6
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Non-nutritional uses of vitamin B6
      Available formats
Corresponding author
Corresponding author: fax +44 (0)171 380 7193, email
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

FG Alvarez & KK Guntupalli (1995) Isoniazid overdose: four case reports and review of the literature. Intensive Care Medicine 21, 641644.

PC Amadio (1987) Carpal tunnel syndrome, pyridoxine, and the work place. Journal of the Hand Surgeons of America 12, 875880.

AN Barr W Heinze JE Mendoza & S Perlik (1978) Longterm treatment of Huntington disease with l-glutamate and pyridoxine. Neurology 28, 12801282.

RA Bayoumi JR Kirwan & WRD Smith (1972) Some effects of dietary vitamin B6 deficiency and 4-deoxypyridoxine on γ-aminobutyric acid metabolism in rat brain. Journal of Neurochemistry 19, 569576.

DA Bender (1980a) Inhibition in vitro of the enzymes of the oxidative pathway of tryptophan metabolism and of nicotinamide nucleotide synthesis by benserazide, carbidopa and isoniazid. Biochemical Pharmacology 29, 707712.

DA Bender (1987) Oestrogens and vitamin B6-actions and interactions. World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics 51, 140188.

DA Bender CJ Earl & AJ Lees (1979) Niacin depletion in Parkinsonian patients treated with l-dopa, benserazide and carbidopa. Clinical Science 56, 8993.

DA Bender & L Totoe (1984a) Inhibition of tryptophan metabolism by oestrogens in the rat, a factor in the aetiology of pellagra. British Journal of Nutrition 51, 219224.

DA Bender & L Totoe (1984b) High doses of vitamin B6 are associated with inhibition of hepatic tryptophan metabolism and increased uptake of tryptophan into the brain. Journal of Neurochemistry 43, 733736.

DA Bender & D Wynick (1981) Inhibition of kynureninase (l-kynurenine hydrolase, EC by oestrone sulphate, an alternative explanation for abnormal results of tryptophan load tests in women receiving oestrogenic steroid. British Journal of Nutrition 45, 269275.

AR Berger HH Schaumburg C Schroeder S Apfel & R Reynolds (1992) Dose response, coasting, and differential fiber vulnerability in human toxic neuropathy: a prospective study of pyridoxine neurotoxicity. Neurology 42, 13671370.

AL Bernstein (1990) Vitamin B6 in clinical neurology. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 585, 250260.

AL Bernstein & JS Dinesen (1993) Brief communication: effect of pharmacologic doses of vitamin B6 on carpal tunnel syndrome, electroencephalographic results, and pain. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 12, 7376.

JP Biehl & RW Vilter (1954) Effect of isoniazid on vitamin B6 metabolism, its possible significance in producing isoniazid neuritis. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 85, 389392.

JF Bowden DA Bender WF Coulson & EK Symes (1986) Increased uterine uptake and nuclear retention of [3H]oestradiol through the oestrous cycle and enhanced end-organ sensitivity to oestrogen stimulation in vitamin B6 deficient rats. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry 25, 359365.

J Brent N Vo K Kulig & BH Rumack (1990) Reversal of prolonged isoniazid induced coma by pyridoxine. Archives of Internal Medicine 150, 17511753.

RL Brent (1995) Bendectin: review of the medical literature of the comprehensively studied human nonteratogen and the most prevalent tortogen litigen. Reproductive Toxicology 9, 337349.

L Bucci (1973) Pyridoxine and schizophrenia. British Journal of Psychiatry 122, 240.

JE Canham EM Baker RS Harding HE Sauberlich & IC Plough (1969) Dietary protein — its relationship to vitamin B6 requirements and function. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 166, 1629.

SP Coburn (1996) Modeling vitamin B6 metabolism. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research 40, 107132.

KL Cohen GA Gorecki SB Silverstein JS Ebersole & LR Solomon (1984) Effect of pyridoxine (vitamin B6) on diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy. Journal of the American Podiatry Association 74, 394397.

M Cohen & A Bendich (1986) Safety of pyridoxine — a review of human and animal studies. Toxicology Letters 34, 129139.

DB Coursin (1954) Convulsive seizures in infants in pyridoxine deficient diets. Journal of the American Medical Association 154, 406408.

K Dakshinamurti & KJ Lal (1992) Vitamins and hypertension. World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics 69, 4073.

K Dakshinamurti LeBlanq WD R Herchi & V Havlicek (1976) Non-parallel changes in brain monoamines of pyridoxal deficient growing rats. Experimental Brain Research 26, 355366.

K Dalton & MJ Dalton (1987) Characteristics of pyridoxine overdose neuropathy syndrome. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica 76, 811.

ED Eberle & S Eiduson (1968) Effect of pyridoxine deficiency on aromatic amino acid decarboxylase in developing rat brain. Journal of Neurochemistry 15, 10711083.

JM Ellis (1987) Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome with vitamin B6. Southern Medical Journal 80, 882884.

JM Ellis & K Folkers (1990) Clinical aspects of treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome with vitamin B6. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 585, 302320.

JM Ellis K Folkers M Levy S Shizukuishi J Lewandowski S Nishii HA Schubert & R Ulrich (1982) Response of bitamin B-6 deficiency and the carpal tunnel syndrome to pyridoxine. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 79, 74947498.

JH Fellman & ES Roth (1971) Inhibition of tyrosine aminotransferase activity by l-dihydroxyphenylalanine. Biochemistry 10, 408414.

RL Findling K Maxwell L Scotese-Wojtila J Huang T Yamashita & M Wizniter (1997) High dose pyridoxine and magnesium administration in children with autistic disorder, an absence of salutary effects in double blind, placebo controlled study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 27, 467478.

B Fowler (1985) Recent advances in the mechanism of pyridoxine responsive disorders. Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease 8, Suppl. 1, 7683.

A Franzblau CL Rock RA Werner JW Albers MP Kelly & EC Johnston (1996) The relationship of vitamin B6 status to median nerve function and carpal tunnel syndrome among active industrial workers. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 38, 485491.

MJ Fregly & JR Cade (1995) Effect of pyridoxine and tryptophan, alone and combined, on the development of deoxycorticosterone acetate induced hypertension in rats. Pharmacology 50, 298306.

E Ganea & JJ Harding (1996) Lens proteins changes induced by sugars and pyridoxal phosphate. Ophthalmic Research 28, Suppl. 1, 6568.

MD Gillmer & D Mazibuko (1979) Pyridozine treatment of chemical diabetes in pregnancy. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 133, 499502.

I Hagen BI Nesheim & T Tuntland (1985) No effect of vitamin B-6 against premenstrual tension. A controlled clinical study. Acta Obstetrica et Gynecologica Scandinavica 64, 667670.

M Hayakawa & M Shibata (1991) The in vitro and in vivo inhibition of protein glycosylation and diabetic vascular basement membrane thickening by pyridoxal 5'-phosphate. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology 37, 149159.

R Hillman (1964) Effect of vitamin B6 on the dental caries experience of pregnant women. Vitamins and Hormones 22, 695704.

Homocysteine Lowering Trialists' Collaboration (1998) Lowering blood homocysteine with folic acid based supplements: meta-analysis of randomised trials. British Medical Journal 316, 894898.

RFH Hoorn JP Flickweert & D Westrink (1975) Vitamin B1, B2 and B6 deficiencies in geriatric patients measured by coenzyme stimulation of enzyme activities. Clinica Chimica Acta 61, 151162.

C Jacobsson & G Granstrom (1996) Prevention of etretinate induced craniofacial malformations by vitamin B6 in the rat. European Journal of Oral Science 104, 584588.

TJ Key PB Silcocks GK Davey PN Appleby & DT Bishop (1997) A case-control study of diet and prostate cancer. British Journal of Cancer 76, 678687.

J Kleijnen G Ter-Riet & P Knipschild (1990) Vitamin B6 in the treatment of the premenstrual syndrome — a review. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 97, 847852.

KJ Lal & K Dakshinamurti (1993) Calcium channels in vitamin B6 deficiency induced hypertension. Journal of Hypertension 11, 13571361.

KJ Lal & K Dakshinamurti (1995) The relationship between low calcium induced increase in systolic blood pressure and vitamin B6. Journal of Hypertension 13, 327332.

KJ Lal K Dakshinamurti & J Thliveris (1996) The effect of vitamin B6 on the systolic blood pressure of rats in various animal models of hypertension. Journal of Hypertension 14, 355363.

ER Levin TA Hanscom M Fisher WA Lauvstad A Lui A Ryan D Glockner & SR Levin (1981) The influence of pyridoxine in diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes Care 4, 606609.

HM Linkswiler (1981) Methionine metabolism as affected by a vitamin B-6 deficiency. In Methods in Vitamin B-6 Nutrition: Analysis and Status Assessment, pp. 373382.[JE Leklem and RD Reynolds , editors]. New York, NY: Plenum Press.

DC Mabin S Hollis J Lockwood & TJ David (1995) Pyridoxine in atopic dermatitis. British Journal of Dermatology 133, 764767.

HN Macdonald YD Collins MJ Tobin & DN Wijayarathne (1976) The failure of pyridoxine in suppression of puerperal lactation. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 83, 5455.

RS McLachlan & WF Brown (1995) Pyridoxine dependent epilepsy with iatrogenic sensory neuronopathy. Canadian Journal of Neurological Science 22, 5051.

S Mardel I Phair F O'Dwyer & JA Henry (1994) Intravenous pyridoxine in acute ethanol intoxication. Human Experimental Toxicology 13, 321323.

A Meister (1990) On the transamination of enzymes. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 585, 1331.

K Mori M Kaido K Fujishiro N Inoue & O Koide (1992) Effects of megadoses of pyridoxine on spermatogenesis and male reproductive organs in rats. Archives of Toxicology 66, 198203.

C Mpofu SM Alani C Whitehouse B Fowler & JE Wrath (1991) No sensory neuropathy during pyridoxine treatment in homocystinuria. Archives of Disease in Childhood 66, 10811082.

Y Noto & H Okamoto (1978) Inhibition by kynurenine metabolites of proinsulin synthesis in isolated pancreatic islets. Acta Diabetologica Latina 15, 273282.

D Palm HW Klein R Schinzel M Beuhner & EJ Helmreich (1990) The role of pyridoxal 5'-phosphate in glycogen phosphorylase catalysis. Biochemistry 29, 10991107.

CS Paulose K Dakshinamurti S Packer & NL Stephens (1988) Sympathetic stimulation and hypertension in the pyridoxine deficient adult rat. Hypertension 11, 387391.

TL Perry VW Yong SJ Kish M Ito JG Foulks WJ Godolphin & VP Sweeney (1985) Neurochemical abnormalities in brains of renal failure patients treated by repeated hemodialysis. Journal of Neurochemistry 45, 10431048.

SI Pfeiffer J Norton L Nelson & S Shott (1995) Efficacy of vitamin B6 and magnesium in the treatment of autism: a methodology review and summary of outcomes. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 25, 481493.

WE Phillips JH Mills SM Charbonneau L Tryphonas GV Hatina Z Zawidzka FE Bryce & IC Munro (1978) Subacute toxicity of pyridoxine hydrochloride in the beagle dog. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 44, 323333.

SM Pueschel RB Reed CE Cronk & BI Goldstein (1980) 5-Hydroxytryptophan and pyridoxine. Their effects in young children with Down's syndrome. American Journal of Diseases of Childhood 134, 838844.

RH Rao BL Vigg & KS Rao (1980) Failure of pyridoxine to improve glucose tolerance in diabetics. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 50, 198200.

B Rimland (1988) Controversies in the treatment of autistic children: vitamin and drug therapy. Journal of Childhood Neurology 3 Suppl., S68S72.

EB Rimm WC Willett FB Hu L Sampson GA Colditz JE Manson C Hennekens & MJ Stampfer (1998) Folate and vitamin B6 from diet and supplements in relation to risk of coronary heart disease among women. Journal of the American Medical Association 279, 359365.

KS Rogers & SJ Evangelista (1985) 3-Hydroxykynurenine, 3 hydroxyanthranilic, acid, and o-aminophenol inhibit leucine stimulated insulin release from rat pancreatic islets. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 178, 275278.

DP Rose (1966a) Excretion of xanthurenic acid in urine of women taking progesterone–oestrogen preparations. Nature 210, 196197.

U Schaeppi & G Krinke (1982) Pyridoxine neuropathy: correlation of functional tests and neuropathology in beagle dogs treated with large doses of vitamin B6. Agents and Actions 12, 575582.

H Schaumburg J Kaplan A Windebank N Vick S Rasmus D Pleasure & MJ Brown (1983) Sensory neuropathy from pyridoxine abuse. A new megavitamin syndrome New England Journal of Medicine 309, 445448.

J Schrijver M Tolonen T Westmark M Halme S Tuominen A Frilander & A Sarna (1987) Vitamin B6 status of Finnish and Dutch elderly. In Biochemistry of Vitamin B6, pp. 411416 [T K orpela and P Christen , editors]. Basel and Boston, MA: Birkhauser Verlag.

J Selhub PF Jacques PW Wilson D Rush & IH Rosenberg (1993) Vitamin status and intake as primary determinants of homocysteinemia in an elderly population. Journal of the American Medical Asscoaition 270, 26932698.

YL Siow & K Dakshinamurti (1985) Effect of pyridoxine deficiency on aromatic l-amino acid decarboxylase in adult rat brain. Experimental Brain Research 59, 575581.

GP Smith PJ Rudge TJ Peters (1984) Biochemical studies of pyridoxal and pyridoxal phosphate status and therapeutic trial of pyridoxine in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Annals of Neurology 15, 104107.

DE Snider (1980) Pyridoxine supplementation during isoniazid therapy. Tubercle 61, 191196.

LR Solomon & K Cohen (1989) Erythrocyte O2 transport and metabolism and effects of vitamin B6 therapy in type II diabetes mellitus. Diabetes 38, 881886.

WN Spellacy WC Buhi & SA Birk (1977) Vitamin B6 treatment of gestational diabetes mellitus: studies of blood glucose and plasma insulin. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 127, 599602.

M Stransky A Rubin NS Lava & RP Lazaro (1989) Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome with vitamin B6: a double blind study. Southern Medical Journal 82, 841842.

EK Symes DA Bender JF Bowden & WF Coulson (1984) Increased target tissue uptake of, and sensitivity to, testosterone in the vitamin B6 deficient rat. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry 20, 10891093.

T Toyota Y Kai M Kakizaki H Ohtsuka Y Shibata & Y Goto (1981) The endocrine pancreas in pyridoxine deficient rats. Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine 134, 331336.

S Tsutsumi T Tanaka K Gotoh & M Akaike (1995) Effects of pyridoxine on male fertility. Journal of Toxicological Science 20, 351365.

JB Ubbinck (1997) The role of vitamins in the pathogenesis and treatment of hyperhomocyst(e)inaemia. Journal of Inherited Metabolic Diseases 20, 316325.

JL van de Kamp & A Smolen (1995) Response of kynurenine pathway enzymes to pregnancy and dietary level of vitamin B-6. Pharmacological and Biochemical Behaviour 51, 753758.

P Verhoef & MJ Stampfer (1995) Prospective studies of homocysteine and cardiovascular disease. Nutrition Reviews 53, 283288.

E Villegas-Salas Ponce de R Leon MA Juarez-Perez & GS Grubb (1997) Effect of vitamin B6 on the side effects of a low-dose combined oral contraceptive. Contraception 55, 245248.

RW Vilter (1964) The vitamin B6-hydrazide relationship. Vitamins and Hormones 22, 797805.

M Viswanathan R Bose & K Dakshinamurti (1991) Increased calcium influx in caudal artery of rats made hypertensive with pyridoxine deficiency. American Journal of Hypertension 4, 252255.

T Vutyavanich Wongtra-ngan S & R Ruangsri (1995) Pyridoxine for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 173, 881884.

MP Whyte JD Mahuren LA Vrabel & SP Coburn (1985) Markedly increased circulating pyridoxal 5'-phosphate levels in hypophosphatasia. Journal of Clinical Investigation 76, 752756.

RG Wilson & RE Davis (1984) Vitamin B6 intake and plasma pyridoxal phosphate concentrations in the first two weeks of life. Acta Paediatrica Scandinavica 73, 218224.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
  • EISSN: 1475-2662
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *