Vitamin B6 supplements are dietary supplements that provide vitamin B6, which benefits the immune system, the nervous system, and many other systems throughout the body. Vitamin B6 is often grouped with vitamin C and with other B vitamins to help with cellular metabolism and immunity. Vitamin B6 comes in several forms; pyridoxine is the form that most commonly appears in vitamin B6 supplements. Vitamin B6 tends to exist in sufficient quantities in many foods, such as bananas and cereal, so supplements often are not necessary. Some studies, however, suggest that excess amounts of vitamin B help to improve health and promote energy production.
Some individuals take vitamin B6 supplements in order to compensate for a vitamin B6 deficiency. Vitamin B6 deficiency is rare because the vitamin can be easily obtained through food, but it still does occur. Older individuals or people with poor dietary habits do occasionally suffer from a deficiency of vitamin B6. Deficiency can lead to skin problems, sores, depression, and, in advanced cases, convulsions; in some cases, it can also lead to anemia. Vitamin B6 supplements are particularly helpful to those who suffer from vitamin B6 deficiency as it does not require them to make sure their diet contains an adequate amount of the vitamin.
Vitamin B6 is a water soluble vitamin, meaning that it dissolves in water. Excess vitamin B6 is usually excreted from the body through urine, so toxicity generally is not a problem. Vitamin B6 toxicity can occur, though, so those who take vitamin B6 supplements must be sure they do not consume too much of the vitamin at any given time. The effects of toxicity often damage the nervous system; toxicity can lead to numbness, poor coordination, and lack of sensation that can last for years.
Most vitamin B6 supplements come in the form of a tablet that contains vitamin B6 and several other vitamins, usually other B vitamins. There are eight different B vitamins; a vitamin supplement containing all eight is referred to as B complex. Several B vitamins, generally including B6, are often present in multivitamins that contain many other vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and iron. Vitamin B6 is also an important ingredient in energy shots, which are intended to provide hours of extra energy without the normal crash that accompanies sugary or caffeinated beverages. Some believe that the high levels of B vitamins provides a great deal of energy, but this claim has not been proven conclusively.