|Vitamin B6 deficiency is rare, since most foods eaten contain the vitamin. Vitamin B6, used mainly in the body for the processing of amino acids, performs this task along with certain enzymes. The enzyme that participates in this type of complex is
aminotransferase. Several types of aminotransferase exist. Pyridoxine is a water soluble vitamin that is instrumental in more than 100 enzyme reactions in the body. Vitamin B6 is used by the body as a catalyst in reactions that involve amino acids.
Vitamin B6 deficiency is usually associated with poor absorption of nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract (as in alcoholism, or with chronic diarrhea), the taking of certain drugs (as isoniazid, hydrolazine, penicillamine) that inactivate the vitamin, with genetic disorders that inhibit metabolism of the vitamin, or in cases of starvation. Vitamin B6 deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. Much of this is due to the fact that a lot of vitamin B6 is lost during cooking and food processing. Adequate pyridoxine is important because it is involved in the production of hemoglobin in red blood cells and neurotransmitters like serotonin, which plays a part in regulating our moods and preventing depression.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) deficiency is common among people over age 65. Vitamin B6 deficiency can occur in individuals with poor quality diets that are deficient in many nutrients. With vitamin B6 deficiency, while aminotransferase continues to occur in the various organs of the body, there is an abnormally low level of the active vitamin B6/aminotransferase complex present. Thus, this vitamin deficiency results in the impairment of a variety of activities in the body. With supplement correction of the vitamin B6 deficiency, the aminotransferase then readily forms the active complex, and normal metabolism is restored. Like vitamin B1, vitamin B6 deficiency is most commonly seen in alcoholics where most of their caloric intake is obtained through alcohol. Certain drugs like isoniazid and penicillamine bind pyridoxine resulting in deficiency.
Deficiency symptoms include itchy, peeling skin (dermatitis), cracked and sore lips, inflamed tongue and mouth (skin disorders similar to vitamin B2 and vitamin B3 deficiencies), neuropathy, poor coordination, confusion, and insomnia. Some of these symptoms can also result from a variety of medical conditions other than vitamin B6 deficiency. Vitamin B6 deficiency can cause impaired immunity, skin lesions, and mental confusion. A marginal deficiency sometimes occurs in alcoholics, patients with kidney failure, and women using oral contraceptives. Some doctors believe that most diets do not provide optimal amounts of this vitamin. People with kidney failure have an increased risk of vitamin B6 deficiency. Vitamin B6 has also been reported to be deficient in some people with chronic fatigue syndrome. The deficiency occurred in infants fed early versions of commercial canned infant formula, when the vitamin had been inadvertently omitted from the formula. This error resulted in infants failing to grow, in irritability, and in seizures.