B6, specifically, is a vitamin that is used to make several neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry signals from one nerve cell to another. These chemicals are important for processing thought and healthy brain development. They are also responsible for telling the body to make hormones that influence mood and the body’s sleep cycles.
Vitamin B6 is also important for women’s and baby health, in particular. During pregnancy and infancy, vitamin B6 is used in brain development and to support immune function.
People most likely to have a deficiency are children, the elderly, and those who take certain medications that can cause low levels of B6.
People who have trouble absorbing vitamin B6 from food or dietary supplements can develop a deficiency, as well. They include those with kidney disease, alcoholism, hyperthyroidism, autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease such as celiac disease, or Crohn’s disease.
Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency include weak immune system, anemia, itchy rashes, scaly skin on the lips, cracks at the corners of the mouth and a swollen tongue. Other symptoms of a very low vitamin B6 levels include depression and confusion.