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- About vitamin B6
- Research on the benefits of vitamin B6 for quality, restful sleep
- Research that has shown mixed or incomplete results on vitamin B6 + sleep
- Other potential health benefits of vitamin B6
- Dosage at which benefits have been shown
- Who vitamin B6 is best for
- Forms of vitamin B6
- Side effects
- The bottom line
- How vitamin B6 stacks up to other natural sleep ingredients
Here at Proper, we 🤓 nerd 🤓 out over the science of sleep. Years of rigorous research went into developing products to directly support aspects of the mind and body that impact sleep quality. Our PhD-led formulations team looked for ingredients backed by multiple human clinical studies that verified the efficacy of the ingredient itself AND its dosage—with no conflicting findings. All were double-blind and placebo-controlled.
We’ve taken this same vigor and applied it here, to our ingredient guides that evaluate what the science says (and doesn’t say) about various vitamins, minerals, and herbs/natural botanicals. Some are in our products, others aren’t. The goal? Equip you with the know-how to make the most informed decisions for your personal sleep journey.
Vitamin B6 is necessary for our bodies to metabolize fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. In fact, it’s responsible for more than 100 enzyme reactions involved in metabolism and also helps support the nervous system and immune function. (1)
Vitamin B6 plays an important role in the synthesis of GABA, tryptophan, and serotonin, (2) all of which impact sleep.
GABA is an amino acid produced naturally in the brain. It acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter that blocks certain brain signals and decreases activity in your nervous system. When levels of GABA increase, it suppresses the central nervous system (CNS) to reduce excitability and, when bound, produces a calming effect that may support a reduction in stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness. (3-4)
- Tryptophan + Serotonin
Tryptophan is an amino acid that plays a role in the production of serotonin, the “happy hormone” that helps stabilize our mood.
For this reason, vitamin B6 deficiencies have been linked to irritability, emotional disturbances, and disrupted sleep. (5-6)
Vitamin B6 has been extensively studied, but not all the clinical trials have yielded consistent results.
While the emerging evidence listed above points to a link between vitamin B6 deficiency and poor sleep, other studies (7) indicate that too much vitamin B6 can also contribute to poor sleep quality.
Also, in a 2018 study on the link between vitamin B6 supplementation and lucid dreaming, researchers found that participants in the study group (who took 240 mg vitamin B6 before bed for five days) experienced significantly lower self-rated sleep quality and significantly higher tiredness upon waking. Although it was a small study (100 participants), it still calls into question the effect of vitamin B6 supplementation for sleep.
Another limitation of the research behind vitamin B6 is that many studies evaluate it as a combination supplement. A 2019 study, (8) for example, evaluated the effect of combined melatonin, vitamin B6, passionflower extract, lemon balm extract, AND California poppy extract on mild-to-moderate sleep disorders. Despite the promising results, it’s important not to attribute it to vitamin B6 alone.
Proper has multiple human clinical studies verifying the efficacy of each ingredient AND dosage in our supplements—with no conflicting findings.
- May help improve mood
For the same reasons that it may help improve sleep, specifically its interactions with serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. (9)
- May help alleviate symptoms of PMS
The same science applies here. Because vitamin B6 helps regulate neurotransmitters, it may have an impact on feelings of anxiety and irritability caused by premenstrual syndrome. (10)
- May help prevent anemia
Studies have shown that low levels of vitamin B6 are linked to anemia, (11) a condition marked by an inadequate supply of red blood cells (which can also indirectly impact sleep).
According to the National Institute Of Health (NIH), the average daily recommended amounts of vitamin B6 are 1.3 mg for adults 19-50 years old, 1.7 mg for males over 51 years old, and 1.5 mg for women over 51 years old. (12)
While most people in the US do get sufficient vitamin B6 from food sources, there are some at a higher risk of deficiency: (13)
- Those who have had a kidney transplant and/or are on dialysis
- Those with autoimmune disorders (e.g., celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease)
- Those with alcohol dependence
Proper formulations directly support aspects of the mind + body that impact sleep quality.
If you have a vitamin B6 deficiency, odds are you may also have a vitamin B12 and folic acid (vitamin B9) deficiency since those are often related. (14)
Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency include: (15)
- Anemia/low energy
- Skin conditions (e.g., itchy rashes, scaly patches of skin around the lips, cracks around the corner of the mouth)
- Swollen tongue
- Weak immune system
Vitamin B6 supplements
If you opt to take a vitamin supplement, you’ll find B6 in the form of pyridoxine, which is the highly bioavailable active coenzyme form. Some supplements only contain B6 while others are what’s called “B Complex” because they contain other B vitamins.
Vitamin B6 in food
There are several common food sources of vitamin B6 including:
- Poultry + organ meats
- Fish (tuna, salmon)
- Potatoes + other starchy vegetables
- Non-citrus fruits
READ MORE: The 15 Best + Worst Foods For Your Sleep
With smart supplementation advised by your healthcare provider, side effects of vitamin B6 are rare. If, however, you consume too much vitamin B6 from supplements, it can lead to a lack of muscle control, heartburn, nausea, and sensitivity to sunlight. (16)
Deficiencies of vitamin B6 are rare, and the jury’s still out on whether this is linked to poor sleep quality. That said, side effects of vitamin B6 supplementation are also rare, so if you suspect that you may be deficient, or if you’re interested in learning more about the potential calming effects of vitamin B6 to see if this could help you wind down and sleep better, consult your healthcare provider.
Interested in exploring alternative natural ingredients for sleep? We’ve got you covered:
- Does Magnesium Help With Sleep?
- Does Vitamin D Help With Sleep?
- Does Chamomile Help With Sleep?
- Guide To GABA For Better Sleep
- GABA vs Melatonin For Sleep
- Guide To Ashwagandha For Stress + Anxiety
- Guide To Melatonin: Uses, Types, Side Effects
- Guide To Valerian Root For Sleep
- Guide To L-theanine For Sleep
- CBD vs Melatonin For Sleep
- Guide To Tart Cherry For Sleep
The Proper Guide To Circadian Rhythms (Sleep-Wake Cycles)
What Stage Of Sleep Do You Dream (REM or Deep)?
6 Ways Sleep Deprivation Affects Work Performance
FAQ: How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep, Every Night
The Relationship Between Sleep + Memory Loss
When To See A Sleep Specialist: 6 Signs + Symptoms Of Sleep Disorders (insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS, etc)