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The B Vitamin for Women: B6

The B Vitamin for Women: B6

by Dr. Daniel J. Heller
Dr. Daniel J. Heller Dr. Daniel J. Heller

Dr. Heller is a family practitioner who specializes in helping patients with hormonal conditions like PMS & PMDD; diabetes and prediabetes; and other chronic diseases. He is the founder, formulator, and clinical director of PMS Comfort. [more]

 

Is PMS a Vitamin Deficiency Syndrome?

A list of the symptoms of vitamin B6 (also called Pyridoxine) deficiency will be surprisingly familiar to women who’ve struggled with PMS and PMDD:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Impaired Immunity
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Seizures
  • Weakness

These are some of the very symptoms that make up PMS and PMDD. Confusion or brain fog is a hallmark of premenstrual syndrome that can change you from a high functioning, proficient woman into someone who can struggle with the most basic life responsibilities for the days or weeks before your period. Depression is another hallmark of both PMS and PMDD, particularly the latter, so much so that antidepressants are the leading medication prescribed for PMDD. Impaired immunity isn’t on most lists of PMS symptoms, but increased susceptibility to colds, flus, and the like can certainly be a premenstrual problem.

Insomnia is one of the most troubling premenstrual symptoms, and certainly one that could easily give rise to so many of the other symptoms on this list. Irritability, of course, is the symptom most associated with PMS in the popular imagination as well as in caricaturized conceptions of premenstrual syndrome. It also happens to be the symptom more women claim as part of their spectrum of symptoms on our PMS Quiz. Nervousness and anxiety go together, with anxiety being perhaps the most characteristic symptom of PMDD and PMS. While PMDD and PMS do not cause seizures, women with pre-existing seizure disorder can find that it is exacerbated premenstrually (the same is true of asthma and autoimmune conditions). Finally, increased muscle weakness may be the reason women report decreased muscle coordination before their periods, while overall weakness could contribute to PMS fatigue.

Vitamin B6: Preventing & Treating Disease

As with many nutrients, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for B6 from the United States Department of Agriculture is much lower than what nutritionally-oriented doctors usually recommend. The reason for this, contrary to what some skeptics have suggested, is not to give you expensive urine. It is because drugs and environmental pollutants deplete your body, or block the action, of B6; because no two people are alike, so an "average" dose is unlikely to be correct for you; and because US RDAs assume that correction of obvious deficiency states are the only nutritional role for vitamins and minerals.

In truth, vitamins and minerals are capable of preventing and treating disease when used at higher dosages. Unfortunately, most doctors aren’t aware of this because it is not part of their training or their interest, and most are too busy to take on a thorough study of nutrition.

So it’s not surprising that vitamin B6 is one of the truly effective natural treatments for PMS—which is why it’s the only vitamin in our PMS Comfort Herbal. Vitamin B6 is one of the earliest recognized treatments for PMS, with one scientific study from 70 years ago proving its effectiveness, and many others from 30 or 40 years ago having further established the value of B6 as the "woman’s B vitamin." Interestingly, vitamin B6 appears to work best when combined with magnesium, another crucial nutrient for premenstrual health. Vitamin B6 also has important relationships with the B vitamins folate, thiamine (B1), and riboflavin (B2.) That, and the fact that magnesium is complementary to calcium, really gives a neat perspective on why nutrition should be holistic; on why looking at nutrients in isolation often yields disappointing results; and on why a complete nutritional approach to premenstrual symptoms is wise.

Vitamin B6 is for more than just PMS; it has many other applications in women’s health and in nutrition in general. It is an effective treatment in many cases of nausea of pregnancy. It has been used successfully in toxemia of pregnancy, as well. It is also sometimes effective in depression, and has been used to treat some types of asthma, as well. Vitamin B6 may also be depleted by hormonal contraceptives, which is ironic given that they are both used for PMS and PMDD.

Several other drugs and environmental pollutants interfere with vitamin B6 metabolism, and are thought to be able to induce a deficiency or increase the requirement for B6. Many of these chemicals are widely pervasive in the environment or are present in just about everyone’s body. The list of chemicals and compounds used in food and industrial processing that effect Vitamin B6 status is long and complicated. It is simpler, and still safe and accurate, to conclude that if you have premenstrual symptoms, you have an increased vitamin B6 requirement, and very likely one that isn’t being met by your current intake.

Vitamin B6 is one of the simplest and least expensive ways to address premenstrual suffering. With just one pill per day taken with a meal (or two if you take the PMS Comfort herbal supplement), you have a solution that’s been demonstrated in study after study to be effective. Of course, since no one solution works equally well for everyone we believe in a more broad-based approach that utilizes a wide range of proven natural approaches. However, if you’d prefer to just "dip your toe in the water" of natural treatments, Vitamin B6 is a good place to start.

Real, Natural Relief—So You Can Feel Great All Month Long

PMS and PMDD misery aren't always taken seriously enough by doctors, family, and friends. At PMS Comfort, our whole purpose is to empower and educate you about premenstrual symptoms, and to provide real, natural relief so that you can feel great all month long. Our all-natural doctor-designed programs are based on decades of experience helping thousands of women recover from what you've been going through. Our Herbal Relief formula, when combined with our diet and lifestyle guidance, addresses more than just your symptoms—it can help bring your body and mind back into balance, and help you get and stay healthy. Plus, we're here to support you, every step of the way.

To learn more about your PMS and PMDD symptoms, take the PMS Comfort quiz. Or, start feeling better today, for as little as 89 cents per day.

We want to help. Give us a call at 1-800-731-6327, drop us an e-mail, or send us your question.

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Principal Author: Daniel J. Heller, N.D.
Last Modified: May 21, 2014

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