History and Characteristics

Several terms are used for vitamin B-6, which consists of three related compounds: pyridoxine, pyridoxinal and pyridoxamine. Pyridoxamine is a

4-aminoethyl analog of pyridoxine. Pyridoxal

5-phosphate is a derivative of pyridoxine and pridotanune: it serves as a coenzyme of certain amino acids (decarboxylases) in bacteria, and it is also found in animal tissue of 3.4-dihydroxyphenyalanine (dopa) decarboxylase. The principal end product of pyridoxine metabolism is 4-pyridoxic acid.

Vitamin B-6 is water- and alcohol-soluble, very sensitive to light but not so much to heat. It is rapidly inactivated in the presence of heat, sunlight or air. Modern refining and processing techniques drain the reserves of the vitamin in the food we consume. A recent study concludes that 57 to 77 per cent of vitamin B-6 is lost in canned vegetables, 37 to 56 per cent in frozen vegetables, 15.4 per cent in frozen fruit juices, 37.6 per cent in canned juices, 42.6 per cent in canned meat, 93 per cent in precooked rice and 80 per cent in < white flour.

Upon entering the body and with the aid of riboflavin vitamin B-6 is transformed into the coenzyme pyridoxal 5-phosphate. At that stage the vitamin is primarily concerned with the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, potassium, iron, insulin and the adrenal hormones. It is extremely important in maintaining the protein metabolism. As a coferment it influences the amino acid metabolism and regulates the proper utilization of fats. It is also needed in the anabolism processes in the tissue of the skin and organs. It is essential for the absorption of vitamin B-12. It aids the activity of the central nervous system. And it helps in the formation of antibodies.

After vitamin B-6 is ingested it moves through the circulatory system. If not utilized, the vitamin will be excreted about eight hours afterward. Unlike many other nutrients, it is not stored in the liver. It can be synthesized by healthy intestinal flora. Fasting and reduction diets will cause a loss of vitamin B-6 if proper safeguards are not taken.

Allies: Vitamin B-6 is most effective when taken with the entire vitamin B complex, especially thiamine, riboflavin and pantothenic acid. Vitamin C and magnesium are also primary allies. And potassium, Hnoleic acid and sodium greatly aid in the assimilation of vitamin B-6.

Antagonists: Steroid and semicarbazide hormones, such as cortisone and estrogen, as well as isoniazid (an antibacterial drug used in the treatment of tuberculosis) penicillin and streptomycin will destroy vitamin B-6 in the body. Diets high in protein, such as the kind many hypoglycemics must adhere to for proper sugar levels, will also cause a depletion of vitamin B-6 unless enough of the vitamin is taken to compensate for the added protein in the diet. In addition, there is a 30 to 45 per cent loss of vitamin B-6 during working.

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