A recent review published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition
suggests that taking vitamin B6 may reduce the severity of COVID-19
. According to Asian researchers, vitamin B6 can reduce cardiovascular disease complications, diabetes complications, cytokine storms and blood clots, all of which are linked to worse COVID-19 outcomes.
Reducing disease severity with vitamin B6
Most studies so far focused on the role of vitamins C and D, as well as minerals such as zinc
and magnesium, in strengthening the immune system against COVID-19. On the other hand, research on vitamin B6 had been trailing.
To that end, the researchers reviewed previous studies on vitamin B6 to examine whether vitamin B6 can reduce COVID-19 severity. Studies showed that vitamin B6 can protect against chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease
and diabetes, which are two of the most common pre-existing conditions seen in COVID-19 patients.
Studies also reported that vitamin B6 can calm cytokine storms and unclog blood clots. Cytokine storms occur when the immune system goes into overdrive and starts attacking healthy cells. They are linked to many deaths from COVID-19
Meanwhile, blood clots clog capillaries and damage vital organs such as the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. Past studies show that blood clots are associated with a 74 percent increased risk of death from COVID-19
The researchers attributed vitamin B6's protective effects to its ability to suppress inflammation, oxidative stress and NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Short for "NLR family pyrin domain containing 3," NLRP3 inflammasomes are multi-protein complexes found in immune cells. The activation of NLRP3 inflammasomes plays an important role in virus clearing
, but over-activation promotes cell death.
Vitamin B6 deficiency is also associated with lower immune function and higher susceptibility to viral infections. Thanutchaporn Kumrungsee, an assistant professor of food science at Hiroshima University
in Japan and the lead author of the study, explained that vitamin B6 has a close relationship with the immune system. Its levels always drop in people under chronic inflammation, such as those with obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
"We can see from the news that obese and diabetic people are at high risk for COVID-19," Kumrungsee said. "Thus, our attempt in this paper is to shed light on the possible involvement of vitamin B6 in decreasing the severity of COVID-19." (Related: Vitamin B6 deficit promotes inflammation, heart disease and cognitive decline
Kumrungsee recommended more studies that will examine the effect of vitamin B6 on pneumonia and other types of viral infections. According to her, research on the protective effect of nutrients against pneumonia and lung diseases is limited at present.
More studies about vitamin B6
plays an important role in metabolism as well as the production of neurotransmitters and red blood cells. A known anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic, it can lower inflammation, prevent clogged arteries and lower heart disease risk.
A mice study shows that vitamin B6 deficiency can raise cholesterol levels and lead to the development of lesions
, which can cause artery blockages after exposure to homocysteine. High homocysteine levels are a risk factor for heart disease.
Studies also link vitamin B6 deficiency to the decreased production of antibodies and white blood cells
, both of which are important for eliminating an infection. Conversely, supplementing with vitamin B6 daily can increase the immune response
of critically ill individuals.
Vitamin B6 is found in bananas
, nuts, tofu, potatoes, chickpeas
and yellowfin tuna, among other foods. The recommend dietary allowances for vitamin B6 are 1.3 to 1.7 milligrams (mg) for adults and anywhere between 0.1 to 1.3 mg for children and teens.
Vitamin B6 deficiency is uncommon the United States, but it can develop due to poor intestinal absorption, long-term excessive alcohol consumption, and the intake of certain medications such as corticosteroids, estrogens and anticonvulsants.
Signs and symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency include anemia
, seizures, depression, confusion, a weakened immune system and peripheral neuropathy (damage to the peripheral nerves).
Vitamin B6 plays an important role in immune function and in warding off infections. Eat more foods rich in vitamin B6 as part of a balanced diet to prevent vitamin B6 deficiency.
Learn more about nutrients that boost the immune system at Nutrients.news