7 Foods with the highest content of Vitamin B6

Living longer requires the best well-balanced diet to keep a healthy normal brain development, nervous system and immune system.

For your body to maintain those, your diet must include vitamin B6 since it can’t produce independently.

Vitamin B6 is an important protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism that helps in overall optimal health. 

Before we get to the food recommendations, let’s ensure you fully understand the basics of vitamin B6.

So, what is vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin that can be naturally present in various foods and is widely available as a dietary supplement.

Water-soluble vitamins can easily dissolve in water, so they are absorbable to the body’s tissues but not stored in them [1]. 

Furthermore, vitamin B6 is only a generic name for six compounds we call vitamers, namely pyridoxine (alcohol), pyridoxal (aldehyde) and pyridoxamine (containing an amino group) and their respective five more phosphate esters. 

You can get vitamin B6 through your usual diet as it is widely present in foods we commonly eat.

You can also acquire vitamin B6 by taking dietary supplements, but they may give you different side effects. The goal is to reduce your risk of vitamin B6 deficiency and improve your overall health [2]. 

If you want to consume enough vitamin B6, you must add these seven (7) foods with the highest content. 

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7 Vitamin B6 food sources

1. Salmon

First on the list, we have the heart-healthy fish salmon, which can have 1.6 milligrams of vitamin B6 per 170-gram fillet, around 94 percent of your needed daily value. 

Vitamin B6 is important to improve and maintain adrenal health, particularly in adrenal glands that produce essential hormones, such as cortisol, adrenaline and aldosterone.

These hormones help regular blood pressure and control blood sugar. Hence, eating salmon can aid in regulating your hormones. 

Salmon may give you vitamin B6 and other nutrients, like protein and omega-3 fatty acids. It is also a great source of low-fat protein–more reason to love this fish! It is widely available on many restaurant menus and supermarkets where you can cook at your home.

You can cook salmon by broiling, grilling, sautéing, baking or stir-frying, which are healthy cooking methods. You can add low-sugar teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds, crushed garlic and lime for added flavor. 

In choosing a kind of salmon, you must pick the wild Atlantic salmon as it offers 85 percent of the daily value for vitamin B6 in just one serving of 154 grams [3].

2. Chicken liver

It may be an uncommon food for some, but chicken liver has many health benefits. It is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Some may find them disgusting, but organ meats like liver have the best super-nutrient profile. 

Chicken liver is not part of the red meat group nor white meat; it is simply organ meat or offal.

Compared to the chicken thigh or breast, their nutritional difference is not much. This organ meat is rich in protein, folate, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 [4].

Vitamin B6 has multiple functions in the body, and it contributes to over 100 enzyme reactions.

One of the major roles of vitamin B6 is helping the body metabolize proteins, fats and carbohydrates for energy.

It acts as a coenzyme and mostly works on protein metabolism, efficiently breaking down and using protein. 

Eating chicken livers may be a no-no for some, but it is delicious, easy-to-make, and affordable.

You can sauté chicken livers with green peppers and onions, adding a pinch of salt and pepper to make it healthier and flavourful. Take note, though, overcooking chicken livers may make them rubbery. 

chicken liver

3. Milk

Milk is yet again to prove that it is the best food in the world! With its vitamin B6 content, you can be prevented from having serious health problems. For kids or adults, drinking milk ensures you get enough vitamin B6 every day. 

As an essential nutrient, vitamin B6 is crucial in cognitive development as it regulates homocysteine levels, relating to an amino acid in the body.

You are at a high risk of cardiovascular disease when you have a high homocysteine level.

Having an increased level of homocysteine can damage the inside of your arteries and put you at risk of forming blood clots.

With this threat to cardiovascular health, you may be prone to heart attack, stroke, other heart diseases, and blood vessel disorders.

Drinking milk can help you lower your risk of the fatal diseases mentioned. With only one cup of cow or goat’s milk, you may get 5 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin B6. 

4. Ricotta cheese

Here’s another vitamin B6-rich food, ricotta cheese! Aside from being delicious, ricotta cheese can provide various health benefits through its essential nutrient content, like vitamin B6. 

Generally speaking, cheese has vitamin B6 that can be found in its whey protein content, and the more whey the cheese has, the more vitamin B6 there is.

Not just that, the whey in cheese contains thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folate and niacin (vitamin B3). And among the wide range of cheese kinds, the highest in whey is ricotta [5].

Ricotta cheese is a fresh, non-aged Italian cheese that can be easily produced from cow, goat, sheep or Italian water buffalo’s milk whey.

It can be produced through the leftovers from making other cheeses. Among the sources of ricotta, the one from sheep’s milk is considered the best. 

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5. Eggs

Who does not like eggs? Delicious. Nutritious. Perfect! Eggs are rich in vitamin B6, among their rich nutritional value.

With one egg, you can get 75 calories, 5 grams of fat, 7 grams of high-quality protein and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, and carotenoids, iron, minerals and vitamins. Eggs are a powerhouse of disease-fighting nutrients, particularly lutein and zeaxanthin.

An egg is jam-packed with excellent vital nutrients that your body needs. The best part is eggs are readily accessible on markets and easy to prepare.

In eating eggs, you don’t have to worry about how you cook them, as you can still reap their vitamin B6 content.

That’s how versatile eggs are! With only two eggs every day, you can get 10 percent of the recommended daily value for vitamin B6. Eggs are perfect any time of the day but preferably for breakfast. 

6. Sweet potato

Next on the list, we have our go-to food when we are on a diet, sweet potatoes!

Some people can’t tell the difference between potatoes and sweet potatoes; here’s a quick guide: regular potatoes generally have white or yellowish flesh inside, while sweet potatoes are known for their copper-colored skin and vibrant orange flesh.

Though you may notice they have the same brownish skin, you can easily identify them through their shapes and sizes.

In terms of taste, as the name implies, they are naturally sweet in flavor, which can be enhanced when you cook them, especially by roasting them. 

Sweet potatoes are found to be a great source of beta-carotene, fiber, magnesium and, of course, vitamin B6.

By eating one medium-sized sweet potato, you can get 15 percent of the recommended daily value for vitamin B6 [6].

Having enough vitamin B6 can help your body regulate glycogen, the stored energy housed in the liver and muscles.

It is also actively involved in hemoglobin formation, gluconeogenesis, glycogenolysis, and immune function.

sweet potato

7.  Tuna 

One of the healthy foods with the highest concentrations of vitamin B6 is tuna, especially yellowfin and albacore tuna.

You can get the most vitamin B6 in tuna steak rather than canned tuna, although canned tuna also provides a decent amount of vitamin B6. 

Generally, tuna is healthy as it is rich in nutritional value aside from having vitamin B6. It is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, like vitamins A, vitamin D, iron, selenium and phosphorus. As a kind of fish, tuna contains healthy fats called omega-3, essential fatty acids DHA and EPA.

Preparing tuna is quite easy. You make a tuna melt sandwich for lunch, or you can have tuna steak as an entree for dinner.

A three-ounce cooked yellowfin tuna can supply your body with 53 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin B6. 

How much vitamin B6 should you take daily?

For men ages 14 to 50 years old, the recommended amount of vitamin B6 to take is 1.3 milligrams daily, while for 51 years old and above, it is 1.7 milligrams of vitamin B6. 

Meanwhile, women ages 14 to 18 must take 1.2 milligrams of vitamin B6 daily, while 19 to 50 should take 1.3 milligrams and 1.5 milligrams for 51 years old and above.

For pregnant and lactating women, they must consume 1.9 milligrams and 2.0 milligrams every day, respectively.

While there are recommended amounts of vitamin B6 daily, you can increase your intake beyond that, and you will not experience adverse side effects.

The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for adults aged 19 years and above is 100 milligrams daily and slightly fewer for children and teenagers [7].

Conclusion

Incorporating foods rich in Vitamin B6 into your diet isn’t just about meeting a daily requirement; it’s about investing in your overall health and well-being. 

Vitamin B6, found abundantly in chickpeas, salmon, sunflower seeds, chicken breast, bananas, spinach, and potatoes, offers a wide range of benefits, from supporting brain function to aiding in protein metabolism.

Remember that a balanced diet rich in a variety of nutrients, including Vitamin B6, is key to maintaining your vitality and ensuring your body functions at its best.

So, the next time you plan your meals, consider including these foods to give your body the nourishment it deserves.

FAQs

What food has the highest vitamin B6?

Salmon is one of the foods with the highest Vitamin B6 content, providing an excellent source of this essential nutrient. Other foods rich in Vitamin B6 include chickpeas, sunflower seeds, and chicken breast.

What happens when your vitamin B6 is low?

Vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, muscle weakness, skin rashes, irritability, and impaired cognitive function. Severe deficiency can result in more serious health issues.

How many mg of B6 is safe per day?

The recommended daily intake of Vitamin B6 varies by age and gender. For adults, it typically ranges from 1.3 to 2.0 milligrams (mg) per day. Pregnant and lactating women may require higher amounts.

What do high levels of B6 do to your body?

Foods rich in Vitamin B6 can support healthy brain function, aid in protein metabolism, boost immune system function, and help regulate homocysteine levels, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.

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[1] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/
[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20110903/ 
[3] https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171998/nutrients 
[4] https://www.doctorkiltz.com/chicken-liver/ 
[5] https://www.healthifyme.com/blog/ricotta-cheese/ 
[6] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/sweet-potatoes
[7] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b6/ 

Photograph: RossHelen/Envato
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