Is there a link between vitamin B6 and the severity of a COVID-19 infection?
Vitamin B6 is important for our energy levels, immune defense, nervous system, and a host of other functions. Vitamin B6 may even be able to reduce the severity of COVID-19 infections, according to an article written by Japanese, Chinese, and Thai scientists and published in Frontiers in Nutrition. The researchers refer to several clinical studies that show how vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc are able to reduce serious symptoms in COVID-19 patients, and they call for more studies of vitamin B6, simply because patients that are severely affected by COVID-19 often suffer from traumatic diseases and lack of several essential nutrients.
Vitamin B6 is one of the key molecules in our cells. It is involved in over 150 different enzyme processes that help control our energy turnover, immune defense, nervous system, and hormone system. Also, vitamin B6 serves as an antioxidant that protects the cells. The nutrient is even important for our ability to utilize magnesium, a trace element that is involved in over 300 different enzyme processes.
You get vitamin B6 from meat, fish, vegetables, bananas, wholegrains, eggs, and dairy products. Vitamin B6 deficiency and poor utilization of the nutrient may be a result of unhealthy diets, stress, overweight, ageing processes, excessive alcohol consumption, stimulant abuse, birth control pills and other hormone pills, and certain medical drugs. In other words, many people have a potential risk of lacking this vital vitamin.
The link between chronic diseases, COVID-19, and complications
The authors of the new article claim that there is increasing evidence that vitamin B6 protects against chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Vitamin B6 is also important for the immune defense, and being deficient of the nutrient increases the risk of virus infections.
The study authors also point to the fact that COVID-19 patients are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such a cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and diabetes. Out of 138 Chinese COVID-19 patients, 46 percent already suffered from chronic diseases like hypertension (31%), cardiovascular disease (15%), and diabetes (10%).
Out of 1,043 Italian patients, 68 percent had chronic diseases: 49% had elevated blood pressure, 21% had cardiovascular disease, and 10% had diabetes. Out of 7,162 American patients, 38 percent had chronic diseases, where diabetes, chronic pulmonary ailments, and cardiovascular diseases were most common.
Why is it dangerous to lack vitamin B6?
Vitamin B6 is involved in the production of white blood cells and antibodies that help the body fight infections. The vitamin is also involved in processes that make sure the immune defense sets in with the right reactions.
When COVID-19 infections become complicated and life-threatening, it is because the immune defense overreacts with cytokine storm and hyperinflammation that can attack healthy tissue in the respiratory system, circulatory system, and other places, thereby increasing the risk of organ failure. There is also a risk of leaky blood vessels, blood coagulation, and blood clots.
Vitamin B6 (PLP) belongs to those nutrients that are known to counteract inflammation and blood clots.
Recent studies show that vitamin B6 supplementation can even lower the blood pressure in patients with hypertension, thereby reducing their risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. There are also studies showing that vitamin B6 supplements can lower the rate of diabetes and related complications.
With regard to pneumonia, researchers have seen that vitamin B6-deficient mice are more likely to become infected compared with mice that have sufficient vitamin B6 levels.
According to the authors of the new article, it is well-known that COVID-19 patients often have lower lymphocyte count and hyperinflammation.
This may be because vitamin B6 has the ability to strengthen the normal immune response and reduce hyperinflammation and cytokine storm by reducing inflammation markers.
In any case, it is essential to have enough vitamin B6 in the blood to make sure there are enough white blood cells and to prevent the immune system from overreacting.
More research and higher priority of COVID-19 prevention
The authors say there are still no clinical studies to support the role of vitamin B6 in COVID-19, and there is a need to map out the nutrient’s therapeutical potential through relevant research.
The daily reference intake (RI) level for vitamin B6 for adults and children older than 11 years is 1.4 mg (in Denmark). It is best if you can get enough vitamin B6 from your diet but many people have unhealthy eating habits. Furthermore, factors such as overweight, ageing processes, stimulant abuse, hormone pills and certain medical drugs can cause deficiencies, in which case supplementation may be necessary.
Guan Yu Lim. Vitamin B6 and COVID-19: Experts call for clinical studies to validate evidence / demonstrate potential. NUTRAingredients.com 04-Jan-2021
Thanutchaporn Kumrungsee. Potential Role of Vitamin B6 in Ameliorating the Severity of COVID-19 and Its Complications. Front. Nutr. 29 October 2020
Mary J. Brown et al. Vitamin B6 Deficiency. StatPearls October 3. 2020
Nikki Hancocks. Diet and supplements: Swiss panel publishes COVID-19 recommendations. 2020
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