For example, a cup of canned chickpeas provides 1.1 milligrams of vitamin B6, while three ounces of roasted chicken breast provides 0.5 milligrams.
Most dietary supplements also usually contain more than what you need in a day – for example, for some B6 supplements on the market, this can be about 20 to 200 times that. Taking such high doses of B6 supplements is unlikely to cause negative side effects in the short term, said Dr. Tucker, but the National Institutes of Health recommends that adults take no more than 100 milligrams per day. Taking much more than that, about 1,000 milligrams or more per day for a long time, can cause weakness, numbness, and pain in the hands and feet; loss of muscle control; and nausea, although most symptoms disappear once you stop taking such high doses.
Experts say if you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough vitamin B6 in your diet, ask your doctor for a blood test. If you have borderline or mild deficiency, you may have only minor symptoms or no symptoms at all and no complications. But if the deficiency becomes severe or long-lasting, it can lead to more serious conditions, such as microcytic anemia, depression, confusion, fatigue and weakened immunity, which can resolve after B6 levels are restored.
Certain medications or lifestyle habits can also contribute to a B6 deficiency. “The diabetes medication metformin, some high blood pressure drugs, especially alcohol, tend to lose B6 in the body so you end up retaining less B6 than you need,” said Dr. Tucker. Heavy drinkers, smokers and people taking certain medications should be much more mindful of their B6 levels, she added. People with kidney or malabsorption syndromes such as chronic kidney disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease may also be prone to B6 deficiency.
Keep in mind that those deficient in B6 are also often deficient in other B vitamins, said Dr. Tucker, so if you need to supplement your diet, you might be better served by taking a B complex supplement, which usually contains all eight of the B vitamins in one dose.
But if you’re not short, Dr. Tucker, you probably don’t need to take a supplement.
“I would always support a food-first approach,” agrees Ms. Eastwood. “If you may be feeling more fatigued, you’re not feeling quite yourself, and you’re aware that you may not be eating a lot of foods that contain B6,” that could indicate that you need to get to more B6. rich food.