Merck Manual

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Vitamin B6 Excess

(Vitamin B6 Toxicity)

By

Larry E. Johnson

, MD, PhD, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Last full review/revision Nov 2020| Content last modified Nov 2020
Click here for the Professional Version

Vitamin B6 toxicity is rare but can result from taking high doses of vitamin B6 supplements.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is essential for the processing (metabolism) of carbohydrates, amino acids, and fats (lipids), as well as for normal nerve function and for the formation of red blood cells. It also helps keep the skin healthy. (See also Overview of Vitamins.)

Good sources of vitamin B6 include dried yeast, liver, other organ meats, whole-grain cereals, fish, and legumes.

Vitamin B6 in very high doses may be prescribed for such disorders as carpal tunnel syndrome or premenstrual syndrome, although there is little evidence of benefit.

Taking very high doses of vitamin B6 may damage the nerves (called neuropathy), causing pain and numbness in the feet and legs. People may be unable to tell where their arms and legs are (position sense) and to feel vibrations. Thus, walking becomes difficult.

The diagnosis of vitamin B6 toxicity is based on symptoms and a history of taking high doses of vitamin B6.

Treatment of vitamin B6 toxicity involves stopping vitamin B6 supplements. Recovery from this disorder may be slow, and people may continue to have some difficulty walking.

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