Benefits Of Vitamin B6 For Weight Loss

We’ve all heard that we need to get our daily intake of vitamins. But what are vitamins? Why do we need them? And what purpose do they serve? 

Examples of vitamins include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E

Put simply, vitamins are organic molecules that are used by your body to function. As you can imagine the body performs a whole host of activities day to day to keep us alive. Vitamins play a role in these functions! Examples of functions that vitamins help with include:

  • Immunity against infection and illnesses
  • Maintaining the lining of the skin 
  • Keeping the nerves in your body healthy
  • Help the body break down food into sources of energy
  • Aid with wound healing and blood clotting
  • Maintaining your bones 

What is vitamin B6?

Vitamins are made up of vitamers. You can think of vitamers like lego pieces or building blocks that form the vitamins. These then slot into specific areas within the body, much like pieces fitting together. In order for the piece to align it has to be the correct shape. 

Vitamin B6 becomes activated in the body and becomes an active coenzyme. A coenzyme is a molecule that helps enzymes within the body to perform their function. Enzymes are usually used to facilitate chemical reactions within the body. The active coenzyme form of vitamin B6 in the body can be either pyridoxal 5 phosphate (PLP) or pyridoxamine 5 phosphate (PMP). So, PLP and PMP are used to help facilitate various chemical reactions within the body. In fact, vitamin B6 is involved in over 100 enzyme reactions within the body. Some examples of functions that vitamin B6 is involved in include:

  • Metabolism of amino acid
  • Development of neurotransmitters in the brain 
  • Converting homocysteine into smaller parts
  • Contributes to the immune systems functions
    • Promotes production of certain cells that are involved in the immune response (e.g. lymphocytes)
  • Contributes to the use of glucose within the body1

Benefits of vitamin B6 for weight loss

Before we talk about the benefits of vitamin B6 for weight loss it is important to note that there is no one pill that you can take that will help with weight loss. In order to lose weight in a healthy way you need to address multiple factors. One of these factors is your intake. We know that a high level of fat in your diet will cause an increase in weight. 

Whatever food we eat gets broken down in our bodies. Fats are broken down into various forms once we eat them. The two that we are going to focus on are fatty acids and triglycerides. Fatty acids are used to provide your body with immediate energy to be used. Triglycerides are essentially small bunches of body fat within the cells. This is the kind of fat you want to avoid when trying to lose weight. The more you eat, the greater the levels of triglycerides you generate in your body. This leads to your body storing the triglycerides as fat. 

Energy usually comes from carbohydrates being broken down into sugars (e.g. glucose). These are stored as glycogen. Glycogen is easier for the body to use to create energy, therefore tends to be favoured when our body needs energy. As a result of this, the triglycerides that we store as fat are not the first option for energy release, meaning that fat stays around longer. In order for your body to utilise fat as a source of energy you need to work through your glycogen reserves first.  

Vitamin B6 helps to increase the metabolism of glycogen. This is because the coenzyme forms of vitamin B6 are involved in the process of converting glycogen into glucose. Having good levels of vitamin B6 in the blood means that you will be able to access glycogen quicker. 

Vitamin B6 also works by promoting fat burning as a source of energy. It is involved in various stages of fat metabolism within the body. These range from transporting fat, depositing fat, and breaking down fats into energy. As such vitamin B6 has been shown to help improve the composition of your body (aka helps with maintaining a healthy muscle: fat ratio). 

Other health benefits of vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 has links to various health conditions:

  • Cardiovascular disease
    • Vitamin B6 is a component involved in the breakdown of homocysteine within the body. 
    • Homocysteine is an amino acid that has links to various medical conditions
  • Stroke
    • Once again, by breaking down homocysteine it is theorised that vitamin B6 helps to reduce the risk of stroke
  • Cognitive functions
    • There have been studies that showed an association between brain function in the elderly population and vitamin B6
    • Higher levels of B6 in the blood appear to be linked to better memory and concentration1
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
    • There is some evidence that suggests vitamin B6 supplements can reduce the symptoms of PMS1
  • Nausea and vomiting - especially in pregnancy
    • Some studies have shown that a small dose of vitamin B6 could help with morning sickness1

Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency

It is uncommon for someone to have an only vitamin B6 deficiency. If you do have vitamin B6 deficiency it is likely that you are deficient in other vitamins and/or minerals as well. Having said that, there are certain conditions associated with vitamin B6 deficiency:

  • Anaemia - low levels of vitamin B6 are associated with anaemia which can cause various symptoms, including:
    • Tiredness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Headaches 
    • Lethargy 
    • Fast heart rate
  • Dermatitis around the lips
    • Lack of vitamin B6 can cause scaling and cracks to form at the corners of the mouth
  • Glossitis - swelling of the tongue
  • Depression
  • Confusion 
  • Weaker immune system 

Food sources of vitamin B6

The recommended level of vitamin B6 per day:

  • Males aged 14-50 = 1.3mg 
  • Males aged 51+ = 1.7mg
  • Females aged 14-18 = 1.2mg
  • Females aged 19-50 = 1.3mg
  • Females aged 51+ = 1.5mg 
  • Pregnant women = 1.9mg
  • Lactating women = 2.0mg1

There are a variety of foods that contain vitamin B6. Examples of these include:

  • Beef liver
  • Ground beef 
  • Fish
    • Tuna
    • Salmon 
  • Breakfast cereals that have been fortified
  • Turkey 
  • Chicken 
  • Certain fruits and vegetables:
    • Bananas 
    • Potatoes 
    • Chickpeas 
    • Onions 
    • Spinach 
    • Watermelon 
    • Squash 
    • Raisins 
  • Bulgur
  • Rice that has been enriched 
  • Nuts 
  • Tofu 
  • Oats 
  • Milk 

Side effects and other concerns

As with anything, vitamin B6 should be had in the right amounts. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing, after all! A one-off high dose wouldn’t do you much harm, however, having too much vitamin B6 over a long period of time can cause side effects. Vitamin supplements can provide up to 200mg of vitamin B6. Taking more than this can cause problems. There’s not much evidence of what doses between 10mg and 200mg do, therefore there’s not much guide on how long it is safe to take these doses. It is not advisable to take more than 10mg of vitamin B6 in supplements unless advised by your doctor to do so.2 

Examples of symptoms of too much vitamin B6 include:

  • Problems with the nervous system
    • Loss of control of your body’s movements (aka ataxia)
  • Skin lesions that are can be painful and cause disfiguration
  • Increased sensitivity to light 
  • Nausea/vomiting 
  • Heartburn 

It should be noted that these are rare occurrences, and as long as you are not chronically having too much vitamin B6 you should be fine. Usually, symptoms will resolve once you stop taking the vitamin B6 supplement. If you have any concerns for any reason it is important to seek medical attention. 

Vitamin B6 can also interact with medications that you may already be taking. Some examples include:

  • Antiepileptic medications
    • Some antiepileptics can cause an increase in the metabolism of vitamin B6 in the body, meaning that there is less vitamin B6 than someone not taking the medications
    • There is some research that shows using supplements can help increase levels of vitamin B6 whilst on these medications, which can help to reduce side effects of the medication1
  • Theophylline - can cause low levels of the active coenzyme of vitamin B6 PLP
    • Low levels of PLP in the blood can lead to an increased risk of seizures

Please remember that these are examples, based on trials that have been conducted. As such, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication regime as they are in the best position to treat you if you are on various medications. 


Vitamins and minerals are used for various functions within the body. The same goes for vitamin B6 - it helps with over 100 reactions within the body! One of these functions is the utilisation of fats in metabolism. This means that having healthy levels of vitamin B6 in your diet will allow your body to break down fats for energy, thereby helping with weight loss. 

Like anything though, it is important not to take too much vitamin B6. There can be side effects, as mentioned, and the ideal intake is around 1.5mg/day for adults. It is advised not to take any more than 10mg/day unless you are told to do so by your doctor. 

If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact your healthcare provider as each case is different and symptoms for conditions can overlap.


  1. Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin B6. Accessed 5 Jan. 2023.
  2. “Vitamins and Minerals - B Vitamins and Folic Acid.” Nhs.Uk, 23 Oct. 2017
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Bazegha Qamar

Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery - MBBS, Medicine, University of Leicester

I am a medically trained doctor, currently working part time in hospital in various medical specialities. I have been working for 3 years, with a year of experience in teaching whilst also working in a busy psychiatric hospital. I have a keen interest in medical education, for both colleagues and also the general public.

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