Vitamin B6 Foods – Fresh Tastes by Bev
By Bev Laumann, Author of A Taste of The Good Life: A Cookbook for IC & OAB
One afternoon last week I got a phone call from a young IC patient who was having a terrible symptom flare. Sounding very unsure of herself, she said that since I was a local IC support group leader, maybe I could help her with a dilemma. It seems one of her doctors had told her to take vitamin B6 supplements, which she did. She was careful to buy a brand that had no preservatives, fillers or dyes her bladder was sensitive to. Nonetheless, she said, she was sure the vitamins were actually making her bladder pain worse, not better. “Has anyone else had this problem, …or am I just crazy?”, she asked.
No, you’re not crazy I thought, remembering my own excruciating experience with vitamin B6. “Just believe in your own experience”, I told her. “Your doctor no doubt had good reasons for his advice, but some of us with IC have had problems with the pyridoxine hydrochloride form of vitamin B6. Perhaps you could ask him about getting your B6 from food, or trying supplements with B6 in a form other than the hydrochloride.”
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is an essential water-soluble vitamin. Among the many things it does, vitamin B6 helps form antibodies that fight infection. It also helps the body manufacture serotonin, a chemical messenger that regulates the transmission of pain messages and other kinds of nerve impulses to the brain. (One of the ways that tricyclic antidepressants are thought to work on IC symptoms is that they affect serotonin).
Vitamin B6 also aids in the manufacture of “non-essential” amino acids such as arginine. (Non-essential doesn’t mean they aren’t needed, it just means that the body can make them if you don’t get them in food. Essential amino acids must be obtained from food because they can’t be made by your body.) One form of arginine, L-arginine, has been found to help some IC patients’ bladder symptoms when taken as a dietary supplement (see other sections of this web site for details). Though not for everyone, recent research has revealed that L-arginine may be particularly helpful for those IC sufferers with a history of bladder infections.