Vitamin B6 Benefits for Bloating and Digestive Health
The vitamin B complex is a term used to refer to the inclusion of all eight major B-vitamins in any given supplement. The vitamins are numbered and includes vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin B9 (folic acid) and vitamin B12. The vitamin B complex group of nutrients is responsible for many physiological processes including producing energy, body metabolism and blood cell production, thus making them well known as essential to cell metabolism. While the group as a whole is important, each individual vitamin has unique benefits apart from their functions as a whole. Vitamin B6 benefits for instance, include lipid and amino acid metabolism.
Vitamin B6 is useful in the production of red blood cells and has been dubbed essential to proper cardiovascular health for the role it plays in decreasing homocysteine. It is also thought to potentially assist in balancing female hormonal changes as well as contribute to boosting the immune system. Vitamin B6 benefits also include the production of important neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. However, one lesser known function of vitamin b6 is its purpose of keeping sodium and potassium balances in check (an imbalance of which can be one of the biggest water retention causes).
This electrolyte balancing act makes B6 one of the only known vitamins for bloating. It is thought that the vitamin may act as a diuretic, although very mildly. Natural diuretics work by increasing urine output. Many in the alternative healing community suggest that vitamin B6 benefits include reducing built up bodily fluids because of the vitamin’s water retention properties, and suggest minimal and safe doses for mild diuretic effects. Up to 25 milligrams of vitamin B6 is considered safe for proper nutrient maintenance and potential diuretic use.
Because water retention is so intimately related to bloating, it makes sense then that having a proper fluid balance within the body and decreasing fluids that have built up within the body can contribute to relief from stomach bloating, fullness and pressure when they result from water retention. However, while vitamin B6 benefits can possibly include reducing excess water weight, signs of water retention can actually be markers for serious illnesses and health conditions. Thus it is important that prolonged, frequent or recurrent water retention, especially if other symptoms are exhibited, be evaluated by a health care provider to ensure that there are no ominous underlying causes of the symptoms.
Vitamin B6 benefits also include a little boost to digestion. B6 is known for providing relief to nausea, one of the most common tummy troubles. However, the vitamin actually contributes to greater overall digestive health. This is because it serves as a regulator for digestion, thus ensuring proper function. It also is partially responsible for the regulation of metabolism, further linking the vitamin to good overall digestive health.
A deficiency in vitamin B6 can result in irritation, facial skin flaking, inflammation of the tongue, mouth ulcers, immune system depression and a wide variety of other symptoms. As such, many people turn to supplements when deficiencies are present in order to get vitamin B6 benefits where diet has not provided. These supplements can ensure that the levels of the vitamin in the body remain at healthy and proper amounts. However, obtaining vitamin B6 from the diet is not very difficult. It can be found in potatoes, beans, bananas, meat, types of white fish, seeds, nuts, brown breads and breakfast cereals, amongst others. Whole food sources are a better choice for obtaining B6 because they also provide other essential nutrients (such as other B vitamins that are necessary for other body processes).
However, too much vitamin B6 can also be problematic, and it is incredibly important to follow manufacturer directions when using B6 supplements for their mild diuretic properties (or, any other use). Too much vitamin B6 can result in side effects like lost appetite, drowsiness and vomiting in the short term. Long term overuse can lead to effects like nerve and brain function problems. It is important that anyone considering supplementing with vitamin B6 discuss it with their health care providers. Certain medications like Dilantin and Liminal interact with vitamin B6, and supplementation may not be appropriate in these cases. Further, diet and activity level may play a role in what dose of the vitamin is suitable in order to obtain vitamin B6 benefits with a minimal or nonexistent amount of risk.