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Vitamin Spotlight: The Benefits of Vitamin B6 and B9 for Women

Vitamin B6 – The Details

 

What is Vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of eight B vitamins that are required to keep your body functioning properly. All B vitamins share the primary role of facilitating the conversion of food such as carbohydrates, protein and fat into fuel, which the body can use to stay energised. It’s important to note that all B vitamins, including vitamin B6, are water-soluble, meaning that they cannot be stored in the body and therefore must be consumed daily from specific foods in the diet.

What specific role does Vitamin B6 play in supporting women’s health?

Regarding women’s health, Vitamin B6 supports various essential bodily functions, including the formation of neurotransmitters such as GABA, dopamine, and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are known as chemical signals that regulate our emotions, which may contribute towards enhanced brain function, mental health, and overall physical well-being.

Concerning women’s hormonal health, vitamin B6 may aid improved hormonal balance. Research suggests it could raise progesterone levels and decrease oestrogen levels, potentially alleviating common symptoms of PMS such as anxiety, depression, and irritability. It’s also proposed that vitamin B6 might positively impact PMS symptoms through its involvement in the production of mood-stabilising neurotransmitters, however, further research is required in this area.

Furthermore, vitamin B6 is required for the absorption of vitamin B12, which the body needs to form red blood cells and cells involved in immunity, such as lymphocytes and interleukin-2. Vitamin B6’s role in the production of haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body, may also be linked with reducing tiredness and fatigue.

Vitamin B6 Deficiency

Low levels of vitamin B6 interferes with the metabolism of fatty acids, which in turn may lead to skin-related disorders such as skin lesions and dermatitis, as well as tongue inflammation and recurrent mouth ulcers and sores on the corners of the mouth. A deficiency in vitamin B6 may raise the risk of hormonal imbalances, as well as potentially contributing to anaemia, reduced cognitive function, fatigue and low energy levels, and impaired immune function.

How much Vitamin B6 do you need?

Adults aged 19 to 64 are advised to consume the following daily amounts of vitamin B6:

  • 1.4mg for men
  • 1.2mg for women

Meeting these requirements can typically be achieved through regular dietary intake. Interestingly, certain commensal gut bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, may have the ability to synthesise vitamin B6.

Plant-Based Sources of Vitamin B6

Plant-based foods rich in vitamin B6 include chickpeas, whole grains, dark leafy greens, bananas, carrots, potatoes, sunflower seeds, walnuts, avocados, pulses, beans, and lentils. To easily meet your daily vitamin B6 needs, try our new Women’s Health Juice Shot [Insert Link], ideal for busy lifestyles and women on-the-go.

 

Vitamin B9 – The Details

 

What is Vitamin B9?

Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, belongs to the B-vitamin family. Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 found in food, while folic acid is the synthetic form found in supplements. Since folic acid is water-soluble and cannot be stored in the body, it needs to be obtained from foods or supplements. Adequate folate intake is crucial for everyone, as deficiency can lead to a range of unpleasant symptoms, including fatigue and muscle weakness.

What specific role does Vitamin B9 play in supporting women’s health?

When it comes to women’s health, Vitamin B9 plays a crucial role in various bodily functions. It supports the formation and repair of DNA, helps prevent birth defects of the spinal cord and brain (neural tube defects), and aids in the formation of red blood cells. It’s particularly important for women of childbearing age to ensure they consume enough folate to reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as anencephaly and spina bifida. It’s recommended that women in this age group obtain folic acid from dietary supplements or fortified products, in addition to folate from a balanced diet. 

Post-menopausal women should continue to ensure they get the recommended daily intake of folic acid. Doing so not only provides the benefits mentioned earlier but may also help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Additionally, consuming enough folate is essential for healthy brain function and could significantly contribute to supporting mental and emotional well-being. Studies indicate that insufficient folate levels may impair brain function and raise the risk of dementia.

Vitamin B9 Deficiency

Insufficient levels of vitamin B9 can lead to an array of symptoms, including tongue swelling, mouth sores, greying hair, irritability, and gastrointestinal issues. Prolonged deficiency, known as folic acid deficiency anaemia, may result in persistent fatigue, weakness, irritability, shortness of breath, weight loss, and loss of appetite. Causes of low vitamin B9 levels may include certain medications like contraceptives and antibiotics, excessive alcohol consumption, pregnancy, and gastrointestinal conditions such as coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

How much Vitamin B9 do you need?

The recommended daily amount of vitamin B9 for adults is 200 micrograms per day, and for women who are pregnant or trying for a baby, it’s advised that you take a 400 microgram folic acid supplement daily until you’re 12 weeks pregnant to reduce the risk of developmental issues in the early stages of pregnancy. Similar to vitamin B6, the gut microbiota can produce essential enzymes needed to create B-vitamins, including folate.

Plant-Based Sources of Vitamin B9

You can find ample amounts of vitamin B9 in plant-based sources like leafy greens, fruits (such as oranges), lentils, beans, and brown rice. For a convenient way to ensure you’re getting enough B9, consider trying our new Women’s Health Juice Shot—an ideal option for busy women aiming to maintain their well-being while on the go.

 

Author: Plenish Nutritionist, Katie Morley

DipNT, mBANT, mANP, CNHC

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.holsome.uk