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With causes ranging from food intolerance to early pregnancy, nausea is a highly common symptom and one of your body’s primary ways of urging you to pay extra attention to your health. If you’re bothered by queasiness, one safe solution may lie in your daily multivitamin: vitamin B6.
An essential nutrient, vitamin B6 supports many of your body’s daily functions and studies show it could soothe nausea and morning sickness in several circumstances. However, this nutrient is not a cure-all, and your individual health may influence its effectiveness. Here, we explore the potential properties of vitamin B6 and how to use it safely to combat nausea.
What is vitamin B6 and how does it help nausea?
B6 is one of the key B vitamins that is essential for your body's overall health and wellness. Think of vitamin B6 as the “can do” vitamin. One of its main roles is to assist more than 100 enzymes—proteins in your body that execute a slew of chemical processes—carry out their biological work.
What is vitamin B6 good for? In particular, vitamin B6 is known to promote the healthy functioning of your [1-4]:
- Cardiovascular health
- Cellular health
- Immune system
So, does B6 help with nausea as well? The answer is possibly—depending on the severity and cause of nausea.
While research hasn’t demonstrated the specific role it plays, vitamin B6 has been shown to soothe stomach distress in certain cases. The nutrient has the potential to reduce nausea caused by:
- Oral contraceptives – In one study of more than 1,000 women on oral birth control, those who took a vitamin B6 supplement reported fewer side effects, including nausea .
- Chemotherapy – Vitamin B6 may be an effective supplement for chemotherapy patients experiencing gastrointestinal distress. One study of 100 children found the vitamin significantly reduced nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy treatment . Another study on adult ovarian cancer patients found that vitamin B6 injections relieved their nausea and vomiting .
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) – Across nine studies, vitamin B6 showed a small but significant chance of decreasing PMS symptoms compared to women taking placebos . The pyridoxine form of vitamin B6 had particularly pronounced efficacy in alleviating PMS .
Can vitamin B6 relieve morning sickness?
Nearly 70% of pregnant people experience morning sickness symptoms, particularly the nausea (and sometimes vomiting) that occurs during pregnancy . Morning sickness is particularly common during the first trimester; in many cases, morning sickness may even alert someone to their pregnancy before they've taken a pregnancy test.
Fortunately, vitamin B6 could be a safe solution to the baby stomach blues. The Academy of American Family Physicians recommends vitamin B6 as the first line of defense against morning sickness . Additionally, numerous studies show a strong potential for vitamin B6 as a morning sickness treatment:
- In a study of 59 pregnant women, those with severe nausea who took vitamin B6 saw their symptoms measurably reduce . Vitamin B6 also lowered rates of vomiting more than a placebo.
- In a study of 140 pregnant women, vitamin B6 significantly reduced pregnancy nausea and vomiting nearly as well as dimenhydrinate (a common drug for nausea) .
- In a study of 60 pregnant women, researchers discovered that subjects with morning sickness had significantly less vitamin B6 in circulation than subjects with recommended levels .
How much vitamin B6 do I need?
Whether or not you’re dealing with nausea, everyone needs their fair share of vitamin B6. But how much B6 per day should an individual take? The National Institute of Health recommends the following daily allowances for select age groups :
- 1 to 3 years old – 0.5 mg
- 4 to 8 years old – 0.6 mg
- 9 to 13 years old – 1.0 mg
- 14 to 18 years old – 1.3 mg for men; 1.2 mg for women
- 19 to 50 years old – 1.3 mg
- 51 years or older – 1.7 mg for men; 1.5 mg for women
- Pregnant women – 1.9 mg
- Lactating women – 2.0 mg
That said, if you’re experiencing persistent nausea, you may benefit from more than the recommended amounts to soothe your stomach. The American Academy of Family Practitioners recommends taking 10 to 25mg of vitamin B6 to relieve morning sickness . If you’re feeling nauseated but aren’t pregnant, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider to decide on a suitable dosage.
Does vitamin B6 have side effects?
For the most part, vitamin B6 is a safe supplement. It’s unlikely you’ll overdo it on this nutrient, as it’s a water-soluble vitamin (excess amounts get flushed out through your urinary system).
On the other hand, vitamin B6 supplementation can have select side effects. When taken in doses of 500mg or higher for over 12 months, vitamin B6 can cause nerve-related issues like :
- Sensory neuropathy, i.e. feelings of tingling or numbness
- Ataxia, or the loss of control over bodily movement
- Photosensitivity, or increased sensitivity to the sun
- Gastrointestinal distress, such as nausea or heartburn
- Skin lesions
As of now, there’s no evidence to suggest that taking vitamin B6 in the long term is harmful. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine deems it safe for adults to consume up to 100 mg of vitamin B6 per day .
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