Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is perhaps one of our greatest, most underrated potential weight-loss allies.
It is a water-soluble vitamin important to various bodily functions. It aids in the metabolic process, breaking down and digesting protein, carbohydrates, and fats, as well as creating new red blood cells and maintaining cognitive health.
If you’re trying to lose weight and are not taking it, you would do well to consider adding it to your supplement regime. And you do need to take it – the body cannot produce vitamin B6 itself, so it has to get it from exogenous sources (foods and supplements).
Many of us do get sufficient vitamin B6 from our diets according to official guidelines. However, some population groups might not, and those looking to lose significant amounts of body fat should consider upping their intake.
And for the rest of us… well, the official guidelines may be underselling vitamin B6. Daily intake far in excess of our RDA (recommended daily amount) can bring about a great many health benefits, as we will see.
The Benefits Of Taking Vitamin B6
There are lots of health benefits to be gained from supplementing with vitamin B6. Most of them are outside the scope of this article and would take a long time to get into as there are so many. We are concerned mainly with a select few – those that can aid in weight loss.
Do note that high levels of vitamin B6 alone will not help with weight loss. No supplement or product will. To lose weight, you need to maintain a calorie deficit. A daily deficit of 500 calories should lead to an average weekly weight loss of around 1 lb. You can achieve this deficit by both consuming fewer calories (eating less) and burning more (taking part in regular exercise).
With this deficit in place, however, we can begin to look at supplementation. This will make your weight loss journey easier and more efficient, as many of the side effects of your deficit are undone as your metabolism and fat-burning capabilities are improved.
Vitamin B6 On A Weight Loss Program
Vitamin B6 can help a weight loss program in a few different ways. It can contribute to an optimized metabolism that yields plenty of energy by burning fat as a fuel source. It can also reduce symptoms of tiredness and fatigue, which are both common in those following a calorically restricted eating plan, especially whilst maintaining an active lifestyle.
High vitamin B6 levels can also lead to a few very specific advantages which can help you to lose body fat more efficiently.
Body Composition And Fat Metabolism
To start with, vitamin B6 supplementation specifically has been shown to improve body composition – your ratio of lean muscle to fat. It has been linked with higher muscle mass and lower body fat levels. It has also been shown to have several positive effects on a few different common measures of body composition. In particular, vitamin B6 supplementation has been linked to lower-body weight loss, with a reduced amount of fat across the hips and waist.
This may be due to the fact that several fat metabolism stages – transportation, deposition, oxidation, and then synthesis for energy – rely on vitamin B6, or are at least highly influenced by it. Research has found that vitamin B6 contributes to the biosynthesis of fatty acids – the process enabling your body to use fats from food for energy.
This is incredibly important. When you eat, some of the fatty acids broken down from your food provide you with immediate energy. The rest are stored as triglycerides, little bundles of body fat within your fat cells. This is exactly what you are looking to avoid if you want to lose weight.
The more you eat, obviously, the more fat is stored as triglycerides. This means that you will put body fat on. However, vitamin B6 can make this fat more available – it will enable your body to break down the triglycerides for energy. This is fat metabolism.
The improved body composition may also be due to the above-mentioned metabolic improvements, which are elicited by vitamin B6 supplementation. Vitamin B6 contributes to normalized, energy-yielding metabolic function. It can break down the proteins and carbohydrates you take in from food, converting them into readily usable energy.
This is how we all get energy from food.
In much the same way that fat is stored as triglycerides, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (sugars) and stored as glycogen. Though some of the sugars are used immediately as an energy source, the rest will be kept for later. In fact, your body can store enough glycogen to last it for an entire day.
This makes it very hard to access fat reserves. Your body will always want to rely on its glycogen reserves over its fat reserves, and it will rarely run low on glycogen. Therefore, it will rarely burn through fat.
Vitamin B6 can make this process more efficient. It is a coenzyme in the process of taking glucose as energy from stored glycogen. It needs to be there for the reaction to occur. Having sufficient amounts means that you have more readily accessible energy from glucose. It also means that you may plough through your reserves more quickly, forcing your body to begin metabolizing triglycerides.
Red Blood Cell Production
Finally, we’ve already mentioned vitamin B6’s ability to improve energy levels and reduce fatigue and tiredness. In fact, a deficiency of vitamin B6 can lead to anaemia, a condition associated with feelings of weakness, fatigue, and lack of energy.
Anaemia is a reduced amount of haemoglobin (red blood cells) in the blood stream. Red blood cells transport vital nutrients around your body, including oxygen. Without adequate levels of red blood cells, your muscles go under-nourished. The oxygen needed for aerobic activities is simply lacking.
This will stop you from being able to live the active life you need to if you want to lose weight. It can add to the fatigue and brain fog that are common on the kind of calorie deficit you will need to burn through fat. Maintaining high red blood cell levels is therefore crucial for overall wellbeing and for the entire weight loss journey.
Sources Of Vitamin B6
Luckily, there are plenty of natural sources of vitamin B6 in regular, day-to-day foods and ingredients. According to official guidelines, an adult’s RDA is anything from 1.3 to 1.7 mg. We can get most of this from plant-based staples like chickpeas, potatoes, bananas, and cereals (particularly fortified cereals) and from meat sources such as turkey and oily fish (tuna and salmon in particular).
However, the official RDA may fall slightly short of what we can readily use for optimum health. Most studies that show how important it is for health and how effective it is for weight loss focus on supplements over regular dietary intake.
Intakes in the range of 30+ mg (some as high as 250 mg) of vitamin B6 have been typically used in medical intervention. This level has been shown to alleviate symptoms of menstrual pain, morning sickness, heart disease, and, of course, to aid weight loss and improve energy levels.
It’s unlikely that you will be able to get this much vitamin B6 from food alone.
If you eat enough potatoes and bananas to get this much, there is little chance you’ll be losing weight – you’ll be overeating in the range of thousands of calories per day!
Therefore, supplementation is a good idea. It is a particularly good idea for anybody suffering from the above conditions (like PMS, heart concerns, and so on) and for those looking to maintain a calorie deficit and lose weight.
There are plenty of options available. For lower doses, simple multivitamins might be sufficient. Some weight loss products will contain decent amounts of vitamin B6. If you really want to increase your intake, however, a dedicated supplement may be in order.
Look around. Do some research online. Find products that are well-rated by past and existing customers (four star reviews and above, in most cases) and that have third-party certification. Find products on review websites like ours that will give you honest, candid opinions. Nothing should stretch the purse strings too much, so don’t worry about spending a fortune.
If in doubt, and if you’re suffering from any pre-existing medical concerns that you think vitamin B6 may help, have a chat with your healthcare provider. They will be able to steer you in the right direction and make sure that nothing reacts badly with your current medical regime.
Written by Kate Harrison
Kate is one of our nutrition experts at PathMed and is also one of our in-house writers. There is little that gets past Kate when it comes to nutrition and she has a wealth of experience when it comes to fat loss and supplementation around losing weight. She is thorough in her research and is a real advocate for living a healthy lifestyle.