Vitamin B6 is an essential vitamin that’s used in a huge range of biological functions and helps maintain heart health, DNA integrity, and cognitive function.
It works in conjunction with the other B vitamins to promote your body’s health, right down to the molecular level.
Deficiency in vitamin B6 is often accompanied by deficiencies in other B vitamins, and it seems to be a particularly common problem in older adults.
Looking to keep your B6 levels high so your body is operating at its very best? Our researchers have selected the best vitamin B6 supplements on the market and ranked them below.
1. Pure Encapsulations P5P 50
Pure Encapsulations provides its B6 in a metabolized form that’s more bioavailable and bioactive. The company exploits the fact that “vitamin B6” isn’t one distinct chemical; it’s a category of related compounds.
Their P5P 50 format comes in a high dosage of 50 mg per capsule. This combined with the greater bioactivity of the compound makes it well-suited for people who know they need to correct a substantial vitamin B6 deficiency.
2. NOW B-6
NOW B-6 is a pretty standard and reliable vitamin B6 supplement. At 100 mg per capsule, it delivers a high dose to rapidly correct deficiencies, and its design is about as clean as you can get: the gelatin capsule delivers vitamin B6 with a bit of rice flour, and nothing else.
The lack of additional ingredients is a real draw for this supplement, as is its high dosage.
3. Solgar Vitamin B6
Solgar is one of the better vegetarian-friendly vitamin B6 supplements thanks to its cellulose capsule, middle of the road dosage (25 mg per capsule), and relatively straightforward supplement design that keeps the additives to a minimum. There’s nothing fancy about this supplement but that might be just what you need.
4. Nature’s Way Vitamin B-6
Though it’s one of the most common brands you’ll find at a brick and mortar retailer, Nature’s Way actually makes a pretty solid vitamin B6 supplement.
It delivers 100 mg per capsule, and the supplement design is pretty clean. Aside from cellulose and gelatin for the capsule, the only other ingredient is magnesium stearate.
5. EZ Melts B6
EZ Melts specializes in making supplements that don’t have to be swallowed. This can be a big benefit if you or someone you are caring for can’t swallow well (or simply doesn’t like taking tablets), but making a supplement dissolvable on your tongue involves some concessions in the manufacturing process.
The fast-dissolving tablets are flavored with sugar substitutes and use natural coloring and flavoring agents to make them palatable. Given that vitamin B6 deficiency is more common among the elderly, EZ Melts fills a good niche in the market.
6. Bronson Vitamin B6
Bronson Vitamin B6 is high dose and high-quantity: the bottle of 250 pressed tablets, each delivering 100 mg of vitamin B6, will last you a long time.
If you need chronically high vitamin B6 supplementation, it’s a good choice. Using pressed tablets instead of a capsule does mean that there are more binders and fillers in this supplement compared to other competitors, though.
7. Best Naturals Vitamin B-6
Best Naturals Vitamin B-6 is a moderate dosage vitamin B6 supplement, delivering 25 mg in each cellulose capsule.
The main drawback with this supplement is the presence of binders, fillers, and additives like silica and dicalcium phosphate. Purists won’t like these ancillary ingredients.
8. Nature Made B-6
Nature Made B-6 delivers vitamin B6 in a very high dosage, but at the cost of a lot of extra ingredients in the capsule. While you get 100 mg of B6 in each capsule, there’s a host of stabilizers and binders as well.
These aren’t necessarily going to hurt the efficacy of the capsule, but other brands deliver the same amount of B6 without these extras.
9. Source Naturals B-6
Source Naturals B-6 is one of the highest-dose B6 supplements out there with 500 mg of vitamin B6 per capsule.
To prevent all this vitamin B6 from just going in and out of your system, it’s manufactured in a time-release format so it dissolves more slowly.
Most people will do better on lower doses, so only take this supplement if you’re under medical direction to exceed the usual 100 mg upper intake limit recommended by the National Institutes of Health.
10. GNC B-6
GNC B-6 is one of the higher dosage B6 supplements out there. At 200 mg per capsule, its dosage is too high for regular use, so this supplement should be reserved for people who need to take beyond the normal recommended upper limit on B6 intake.
Vitamin B6 benefits and side effects
The wide-ranging biological functions of vitamin B6 make it useful for everything from boosting your immune system to better heart health to maintaining proper cognitive functioning as you get older.
Vitamin B6 deficiency is surprisingly common but difficult to detect, particularly in older adults, so ensuring that you get enough of this critical vitamin is very important if you want your body in good health.
A vitamin B6 supplement can correct hard-to-detect vitamin deficiencies. In most cases, checking for a vitamin deficiency is pretty easy. A doctor can order a blood test and see if the measured level of the vitamin in your blood matches the usual reference ranges for healthy people.
However, some research has found that even in the presence of normal blood levels of vitamin B6, supplementation might be necessary for optimal health.
This is because the vitamin B6 in your blood might not actually be actively being used by your body. This was demonstrated in a 1995 study in the medical journal The Lancet that looked at the effects of a B6, folate, and B12 supplement on elderly volunteers, both in a hospital setting and in a residential setting (1).
Even though all of the subjects had normal blood levels of B6, tests for biomarkers indicative of poor B vitamin metabolism found a significant improvement in cellular function thanks to the B complex supplement.
Maintaining healthy levels of vitamin B6 can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. The link between vitamin B6 and cardiovascular health is a compound called homocysteine.
It’s a metabolite in your blood, and high levels of this compound have been linked to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Low vitamin B6 is, in turn, a cause of high levels of homocysteine (the same compound that is targeted by TMG).
Research establishing this link was published in 1998 in the journal Circulation by a team of doctors at the Cleveland Clinic (2).
Their study involved matching patients with confirmed cardiovascular disease to healthy controls who were otherwise similar. When comparing the subjects with cardiovascular disease to the healthy subjects, the researchers found higher levels of homocysteine and lower levels of vitamin B6.
Further, even after controlling for homocysteine levels, low vitamin B6 was still associated with a greater rate of disease.
Vitamin B6 levels reduce heart disease in the long run. Later research confirmed this association in a 14-year study of female nurses described in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
After analyzing the dietary and supplement data in excruciating detail, the researchers demonstrated that greater vitamin B6 intake—whether from a supplement or from your diet—was associated with a decreased risk for heart disease.
Vitamin B6 may help maintain or even improve your cognitive function as you get older. The biological functions of vitamin B6 extend to your brain and nervous system too: maintaining high levels of B6 appears to be linked to better cognitive performance as you get older.
That was the conclusion of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by researchers at Tufts University (4). The study looked at several different measures of cognitive performance among 70 older subjects who underwent blood testing of their vitamin B6 levels.
The researchers found that cognitive performance, specifically memory, was superior among those with higher levels of vitamin B6. The underlying biological process that links vitamin B6 to memory and cognitive function isn’t clear, but nevertheless, the researchers recommended further work into the use of B6 to prevent or reverse cognitive decline.
Vitamin B6 can help protect your DNA from damage. According to a scientific paper published in the journal Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis by Bruce Ames at the University of California Berkeley, deficiencies in vitamin B6 can cause damage to DNA strands that mimics the effects of toxic and mutagenic compounds (5).
In addition to cardiovascular and cognitive health, it appears that vitamin B6 is critical for the integrity of the DNA in your cells, too.
The author of this paper connects low levels of micronutrients like B6 with the development of chronic disease and cancer, and cites some unsettling statistics. Among the elderly population in the United States, up to 10% are deficient in vitamin B6.
This finding suggests that B6 deficiency in the elderly could contribute to chronic disease rates, and that preventing B6 deficiency could be an integral part of reducing the burden of chronic diseases.
At low to moderate doses, vitamin B6 has no known side effects. The only known adverse effects have come from massive doses (1000 mg per day or more) taken for a long period of time (7).
Doses as high as 200 mg per day taken daily for five years are not known to cause side effects, but to maintain a safety buffer, the Office of Dietary Supplements halved this value to recommend an upper limit of 100 mg of vitamin B6 per day from supplements.
This is in line with the largest dose you’ll find in many of the best supplements. Exceeding the recommended upper limits, unless you are under medical supervision, puts you at risk for some pretty serious neurological effects.
While these tend to go away after you stop taking extremely high B6 doses, it’s still not worth risking, so stick to the recommended upper limit unless you’ve gotten specific medical instructions to exceed it.
To ward off vitamin B6 deficiency, you should aim for at least 1.3 mg of vitamin B6 per day, and more (1.5 to 1.7 mg) if you are over age 50.
That’s according to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, which aggregates data on vitamins and minerals for optimal health (8).
However, if you are taking vitamin B6 specifically to correct a deficiency, you are likely to need a higher dose, like 5 mg, 10 mg, or more. Most studies simply use a once-daily dose, often in combination with other B complex vitamins.
Vitamin B6 plays an important role in regulating your body’s cardiovascular and cognitive health. Older adults are at risk for vitamin B6 deficiency, and it isn’t always easy to detect.
Fortunately, adequate supplemental doses of vitamin B6 can correct deficiencies, and the evidence indicates that they may also be able to protect your DNA and help maintain or improve cognitive function in old age and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
At the most effective dosages, vitamin B6 is very safe: doses as low as 5 mg per day produce benefits. It’s not until your daily dosage gets above 500 mg per day that you encounter problems with side effects.
With the right vitamin B6 supplement, you can help maintain the well-being of your brain and your heart.