Pyridoxine is a vitamin. It can be found in certain foods such as cereals, beans, vegetables, liver, meat, and eggs. It can also be made in a laboratory.
Pyridoxine is used for preventing and treating low levels of pyridoxine (pyridoxine deficiency) and the “tired blood” (anemia) that may result. It is also used for heart disease; high cholesterol; reducing blood levels of homocysteine, a chemical that might be linked to heart disease; and helping clogged arteries stay open after a balloon procedure to unblock them (angioplasty).
Women use pyridoxine for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and other menstruation problems, “morning sickness” (nausea and vomiting) in early pregnancy, stopping milk flow after childbirth, depression related to pregnancy or using birth control pills, and symptoms of menopause.
Pyridoxine is also used for Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Down syndrome, autism, diabetes and related nerve pain, sickle cell anemia, migraine headaches, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, night leg cramps, muscle cramps, arthritis, allergies, acne and various other skin conditions, and infertility. It is also used for dizziness, motion sickness, preventing the eye disease age-related macular degeneration (AMD), seizures, convulsions due to fever, and movement disorders (tardive dyskinesia, hyperkinesis, chorea), as well as for increasing appetite and helping people remember dreams.
Some people use pyridoxine for boosting the immune system, eye infections, bladder infections, and preventing cancer and kidney stones.
Pyridoxine is also used to overcome certain harmful side effects related to radiation treatment and treatment with medications such as mitomycin, procarbazine, cycloserine, fluorouracil, hydrazine, isoniazid, penicillamine, and vincristine.
Pyridoxine is frequently used in combination with other B vitamins in vitamin B complex products.
You may remember a prescription medication called Bendectin that was used for morning sickness in pregnancy. Bendectin contained pyridoxine and a sleep-inducing antihistamine called doxylamine. The makers of Bendectin took it off the market in 1983 because they were running up expensive legal bills in defense of their product. Opponents charged it might be responsible for birth defects. Meanwhile, a product called Diclectin that is similar to Bendectin remained available in Canada, and there was research showing that neither pyridoxine nor Bendectin seems to cause birth defects in animals. After Bendectin was removed from the market, there was no reduction in birth defects, but hospitalization rates for pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting doubled.
How does it work?
Pyridoxine is required for the proper function of sugars, fats, and proteins in the body. It is also required for the proper growth and development of the brain, nerves, skin, and many other parts of the body.
Uses & Effectiveness
- Anemia (sideroblastic anemia). Taking pyridoxine by mouth is effective for treating an inherited type of anemia called sideroblastic anemia.
- Certain seizures in infants (pyridoxine-dependent seizures). Administering pyridoxine intravenously (by IV) controls seizures in infants that are caused by pyridoxine dependence.
- Pyridoxine deficiency. Taking pyridoxine by mouth is effective for preventing and treating pyridoxine deficiency.
Likely Effective for
- High homocysteine blood levels. Taking pyridoxine by mouth alone or together with folic acid is effective for treating high homocysteine levels in the blood.
Possibly Effective for
- Macular degeneration. Some research shows that taking pyridoxine with other vitamins including folic acid and vitamin B12 might help prevent the loss of vision caused by the eye disease called age-related macular degeneration.
- Behavior disorder in children caused by low serotonin levels (hyperkinetic cerebral dysfunction syndrome). Early research shows that taking pyridoxine by mouth might have a beneficial effect on children with a behavior disorder caused by low serotonin levels.
- High blood pressure. Early research suggests that taking pyridoxine can lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure
- Kidney stones. There is some evidence that taking pyridoxine alone or combined with magnesium can decrease the risk of kidney stones in people with a hereditary disorder that increases their risk of forming kidney stones (type I primary hyperoxaluria). However, it does not appear to help people with other kinds of kidney stones.
- Lung cancer. Taking pyridoxine by mouth seems to decrease the risk of lung cancer in individuals who smoke.
- Upset stomach and vomiting in pregnancy. Some research suggests pyridoxine does not improve symptoms of mild to moderate nausea as much as severe nausea. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology considers pyridoxine a first-line treatment for nausea and vomiting caused by pregnancy. Pyridoxine plus the medication doxylamine is recommended for women who do not get better when treated with just pyridoxine.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). There is some evidence that taking pyridoxine by mouth can improve PMS symptoms including breast pain. The lowest effective dose should be used. Higher doses will increase the chance of side effects and are not likely to increase the beneficial effects.
- Movement disorders (tardive dyskinesia).Taking pyridoxine seems to improve movement disorders in people taking drugs for mental disorders.
Possibly Ineffective for
- Alzheimer’s disease. Some evidence suggests that taking pyridoxine supplements does not reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older people.
- Autism. Taking pyridoxine with magnesium daily does not seem to improve autistic behavior in children.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. Although some early research suggests that pyridoxine might relieve certain symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, most research suggests that this supplement does not benefit people with this condition.
- Mental function. Taking pyridoxine daily together with folic acid and vitamin B12 does not seem to improve mental function in older people.
- Stroke. Taking pyridoxine by mouth does not seem to prevent the occurrence of another stoke in people with a history of stroke.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Preventing re-blockage of blood vessels after angioplasty. Evidence on the benefits of pyridoxine for preventing the re-blockage of blood vessels after angioplasty is inconsistent. Some evidence suggests that taking folic acid, vitamin B12 and pyridoxine might be beneficial. However, other research finds no benefit.
- Asthma. The effectiveness of pyridoxine supplementation in children with asthma is unclear.
- Itchy and inflamed skin (atopic dermatitis (eczema)). Early research suggests that taking pyridoxine daily for 4 weeks does not reduce eczema symptoms in children.
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Early research suggests that taking pyridoxine by mouth, with or without high doses of B vitamins, might help ADHD. However, research using high doses of both pyridoxine and vitamins seems to have no effect on ADHD symptoms.
- Depression. Early research suggests that taking pyridoxine might reduce depression symptoms in postmenopausal women but not in the general population.
- Painful periods (dysmenorrhea). Early research suggests that taking pyridoxine daily might reduce painful periods.
- Nerve problems caused by diabetes. Evidence on the effects of pyridoxine in people with nerve problems caused by diabetes is inconsistent. Some research shows that taking pyridoxine with thiamine daily reduces the severity of symptoms, while other research shows no benefit.
- High blood sugar during pregnancy (gestational diabetes). Some early research suggests that taking pyridoxine daily for 2 weeks may lower sugar levels in women with high blood sugar during pregnancy. However other early research shows no benefit of pyridoxine on this condition.
- Nerve damage caused by tuberculosis medication. Early research suggests that taking pyridoxine daily might reduce nerve damage caused by a drug taken for tuberculosis.
- Stopping breast milk production. Early research suggests that taking pyridoxine daily for 6-7 days does not stop breast milk production.
- Complications in pregnancy. Taking pyridoxine during pregnancy does not seem to reduce the risk of eclampsia, pre-eclampsia, or preterm birth, but may reduce the risk of tooth decay.
- Seizures caused by a high fever (seizures). Early research suggests that taking pyridoxine daily for 12 months does not reduce the recurrence of seizures caused by a high fever.
- Nerve damage caused by chemotherapy. Early research suggests that pyridoxine might help reverse nerve damage caused by the chemotherapy drug vincristine.
- Boosting the immune system.
- Muscle cramps.
- Eye problems.
- Kidney problems.
- Night leg cramps.
- Lyme disease.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate pyridoxine for these uses.