Q. Twenty years ago I started taking high doses of B vitamins to help prevent migraines. It worked, but about eight years ago I began having twitching all over, but mostly in my lower legs.

I was tested for MS and ALS. Fortunately, I do not have either. However, the muscle twitching is worse in my calves now, and according to my neurologist, I have lost some sensation in them. I have also lost some sense of balance, as well as dexterity in my hands.

He can’t find a diagnosis, so I’ve begun to suspect excess vitamin B6. I have stopped taking all B vitamins and plan to give my body a break from them to see if that helps. Is this dangerous?

A. Stopping your vitamin B6 makes sense. Although a deficiency of this crucial vitamin can cause problems with nerves, mega-doses are also dangerous. For decades, doctors have reported symptoms similar to yours in patients who took high doses of vitamin B6. In one case series, the patients reported numbness, burning or tingling, balance difficulties and weakness (Electromyography and Clinical Neurophysiology, Jun-Jul, 2008).

We generally advise people not to exceed 50 mg a day of vitamin B6, although that is lower than the amount reported to do harm. One reader got into trouble by taking brewers’ yeast for years. It is rich in vitamin B6.

It may take time to recover from vitamin B6 toxicity. There is not a lot of research on this phenomenon so you will have to monitor your nerve function closely with a neurologist.

When it comes to treating headaches and migraines, you and other victims may wish to consider some less risky remedies. We offer many in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies, which has information about herbal tea with ginger, dietary measures such as cutting down on carbohydrates or avoiding gluten, or consuming a hot spicy food such as gumbo or hot-and-sour soup.

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  1. tony

    I was told my vitamin B6 levels are 3x the amount it should be

    I have been getting numbness and freezing feeling constrainged like feelings in my feet mostly the metatasil are…its years of bedtime sufferring . only when i lie down to bed does it come
    I stopped taking swiss multi vitamin that had some b6 in it. What is it? what is excess B6 in the body all about . Where am i getting 3x the amount of normal vitamin B6 from?

  2. Harold

    It’s all familiar.As my walking problem developed I found a place talking about a deficiency in B vitamins.I was already taking them and thought I wasn’t taking enough. So, I took more. It said a deficiency of B vitamins can cause leg problems and itching. I had both.

    Much later I started reading about Vitamin B 6 and that an overdose had the same symptoms as a deficiency. There I was way overloaded and using a walker to get around the house. I was taking way too much.

    Now, how long to get over it? Why aren’t we warned?

  3. Jhn

    I am 45 years old male.
    I experience following symptoms after taking vitamin B complex supplement.
    1. Tingling all over the body
    2. Twitching all over the body predominantly legs stomach back right-side
    3. Shocking sensation in body
    4. Crawling sensation mainly in scalp and sometime on other part of body.
    5. Numbness in foot and hands. In the night both hand feeling numb.
    6. Insomnia, anxiety, stress
    7. Sharp pinning/needling sensation in body

    I was taking Neurobion (Merck) contain Vitamin-B1 100MG, Vitamin B6- 200MG, Vitamin B12-200MCG. I took one tablet each day for nearly 40 days. Without knowing these tablets are poisoning me each single day. I experienced symptoms on 25th day but I was thinking these are not due to the vitamin supplements. I consulted neurology doctor in Singapore at Raffles hospital and he has advised me to do following blood test.
    1. Calcium
    2. Magnesium
    3. CK/CPK
    All above test are normal. Then nerve conduction test and EMG also normal.
    Finally doctor concluded I have benign fasciculation syndrome. He advised that it comes and goes. Just ignore and asked me to see psychologist.

    I was desperate and suffering all above mentioned symptoms. I searched on the internet for possible cause and on some website it was mentioned heavy metal toxicity is the one of the causes of twitching and tingling in the body. I went to a private lab and ordered heavy metal toxicity test for nickel, arsenic, mercury, led, zinc etc. All the heavy metal toxicity reports came normal.

    Finally I ordered all vitamin B complex panel blood test and my vitamin b-6 level was found 212 ng/Ml (normal range is 8.7-27.2), nearly 7 times higher than the normal range.

    I stopped the vitamin B supplement. Today 12th day and I have still symptoms in my body but the magnitude of the symptoms have been slightly reduced. I have no idea how much damage these vitamins have done and how long it takes to recover. Now I am very careful with my diet by avoiding B6 food. In the coming days I will keep an update of my progress of recovery.

    It is too late for me to realize the dangers of vitamin supplements.

    • Juha

      Have you find any relief for your symptoms yet? I have had similar symtoms (muscle twitching, myoclonic jerks, TOS symtoms in my right hand, numbness in right foot etc.) since June. My b6 levels where over 600 nmol. I have also had normal enmg and clinical tests. Before June I had right side numbness from head to toes, problems around my belly, dry mouth, loss of voice etc.)

  4. Dave H
    roseburg or

    I’ve had burning of legs, numbness of feet, sharp stabs, twitching mostly all in lower extremities. I have type 2 diabetes, which is under control: A1c 6.1.

    This has gradually gotten worse. I take b complex, which has 100 mg of b6 per pill. I’ve been doubling it just had b12 test was 1784 high now I had b6 test, which takes 5 days because had to be sent to spokane. Will it show toxicity?

  5. Sarah

    I, too, had no idea that B6 was the culprit in my peripheral neuropathy, until about an hour ago! I have been through every test known, in order to determine why I have it. I have no risk factors for developing it. Then it occurred to me. Two years ago, I had a dental mishap that lead to something called Burning Mouth Syndrome (nerve damage). One of the things recommended for it was B vitamins, so I bought these gummy vitamins and kept them at my desk. I munched on them all day, figuring they were good for me. It was a B complex, and I have no idea how much B6 was in them. I can no longer find them in the store I bought them from. But I am now highly, highly suspicious that that is the cause of the burning and prickling in my feet and calves, and forearms and hands. I have no numbness at all. I stopped taking the B complex about a month before I started getting the symptoms, though. I also have a leg that no longer wants to cooperate, so I’m wondering if the damage is done and it’s too late to reverse it. It’s been 6 months since symptoms began, and it’s been 7 months since I stopped taking B vitamins.

  6. Ange

    I never knew that high doses of vitamin B6 can become toxic to the cells and cause severe damage. The literature says it washes out. Not so! Now I am waiting to have my B6 levels rechecked after doing all the natural things to reduce the level: forcing water all day long for weeks and months, and removing all B6 foods and supplements.

    The overdose for 5 months caused severe neuritis in my arms from finger tips to shoulder tops. I had a major problem convincing multiple doctors to test my B6 levels because they did not believe me. When one of my doctors wanted to do an EMG he agreed to check the B6 level first and was really shocked to find that my neuritis was induced by the toxicity. Now I am faced with trying to get someone to retest me so I know if I am still on the high side or now too low. In the middle of all of this I had to change primary care docs and don’t see the new one for another week so I am unable to get tested until then.

    In the meantime I am going to take a low-dose multi vitamin and resume B6 foods only after my B6 blood test. I am a “medical professional” and should have known better though none of my pre-search revealed the serious side effects of B6 and. I still don’t understand that. Beware.

  7. janet
    amsterdam holland

    my mother has an b6 high level off 450 and has symptoms like, burning feet,fatique and severe headache. she does not take vitamine pills and her vit b12 level was tested last year and was 500. Her magnesium is going to be tested as well. What can be the reason for that high level anyone an idea?

    greetings Janet

  8. Brenda

    I was diagnosed with having too much vitamin B6. For 3 or so years I have had burning sensations in both legs from shins down. No one could figure it out. After testing my B6, we found that it was 200 times the normal amount. Years ago I had taken a B-complex and B12 but not consistently. I do not drink energy drinks nor eat liver or too much beef. I eat old-fashioned oatmeal and Raisin Bran or shredded wheat. I walk on weekends, as I work lots of hours standing on my feet. I went to a neurologist and now a hematologist. As I type this I am getting blood drawn to check my levels again. I never knew this could happen and no clue as to why this is happening

  9. Mary

    I know I have B6 Toxicity, I started working 2 jobs so I found myself drinking energy drinks to get me through the day and night, I was also taking a multi vitamin with B6 in it. I thought I was going to die and everytime I ate anything with B6 it would exacerbate the symptoms. I had needle like pain all over my body sharp pains in legs and burning feet. I have been drinking tea made from cilantro and taking ALA supplements to rid my body of these toxins. I drink lots of water too. Feeling better everyday.

  10. Alison

    I was diagnosed with B6 toxicity May 2015 with symptoms occurring in summer 2014. My level was 548 almost 600 times over the normal level. It took over 9 months and rigorous testing to finally get a diagnosis because it’s quite rare I was told. . I was only taking a B complex vit and digestive enzymes that had a small amount of b6 in it. I was a very healthy female that worked out everyday till this happened. I still suffer from severe fatigue ,neuropathy issues,mental fog and muscle weakness, working out and any stress makes me have flare-ups. The muscle weakness has also interfered with my breathing .The neurologist at Mayo Clinic told me b6 toxicity was “very nasty ” and could take up to two years for my body to recover and I may not fully recover. I’m going to a wellness doctor that used to work at Jacksonville Mayo Clinic because it is a nutritional issue and have been put on vitamin therapy. The toxicity caused severe gastritis that depleted my body of other vitamins like thiamine, magnesium and certain amino acid which is helping. I was surprised to learn that my primary doctor has never heard if this!

  11. D Ann

    In October of 2014, I experienced “stockings and gloves” tingling in my hands and feet (and sometimes in my face). I visited my family doctor who did some blood work (including B12, but not B6). All came back in normal ranges, and she assured me there were no issues. I returned in March of 2015 after the symptoms had progressed to “internal trembling” throughout my body — arms, legs, face, lips, chest (imagine having a strong vibration inside your body that turns on frequently and randomly). It was at times very intense and very discomforting. She carried out no additional blood work, but prescribed generic Lexapro (having clearly decided that I was just a neurotic aging woman). I ultimately declined the Lexapro. A visit to a neurologist was unhelpful. My chiropractor recommended a local physiatrist (a physician specializing in the interaction between muscle, nerves and bone). She got it in one — first round of blood work showed my B6 level to be 6 times the maximum “normal”.

    I don’t eat processed foods, but had (in 2014) changed multi-vitamins to a 50+ version which had very high levels of B6. I eliminated the multi-vitamin — four months later, the symptoms have subsided, and my B6 levels are back to normal.

    While B6 in foods is water soluble, I have learned that the B6 is most supplements is not. This was a very intense and somewhat scary experience — made more so by the lack of assistance (or knowledge) on the part of the first physicians that I consulted. I am grateful to the physician who listened carefully, formed a set of hypotheses and set out to test them.

    • Sara

      I’ve had the exact same symptoms as you first did for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve just noticed that the amounts of B6, B12 and D3 in my supplements are completely out of whack. I’m on a vitamin B complex and the amount of B6 is 50mg, which is the absolute limit as far as I’m informed. I’m gonna try going off all three of them and see if it helps.

      As in your case my GP didn’t measure my B6 levels last time I got checked. It’s really scary that they might be adding toxic amounts to the complexes and multivitamins with the GPs not even checking your levels unless specifically asked for it – normally I do my research, but with complexes I just tend to assume that it’s all well within safe levels.

  12. Beth

    B6 is toxic in lower doses and with food. There is a B6 toxicity FB support group. Search FB for B6 Toxicity.

  13. Jane

    Any ideas on how to get rid of the extra vitamin b6? Will the nerves repair themselves?

  14. tiggersmama

    also hav numbness in my feet i dont know if its related to my hypothyroidism or what so i started taking vit b6 but i cut the 100mg pill in half so we will see what happens will let you know

  15. Jess

    I’m in my mid 30s. Female. I have been having tingling, burning sensation and pin and needles all over my body since two months. It is driving me crazy. It is hard to live like this. I had a bug in my stomach and was cleared few months ago. I’m not sure if my current symptoms are related to this bug, but I have gotten blood tests and seen a neurologist.
    My b12 was fine and the neurologist did not think it was related to neorology. I found that respond very interesting! After reading about B6 toxicity symptoms, I suggested my doc to check that out. I have not received the blood results yet but why can’t doctors check b6 while they are checking b12 in the first place? I find it very stupid. Does anyone going through what I am going through (with my symptoms)? Thanks much..

    • Concerned Mom

      I hope you’re feeling better.
      My daughter has toxic B6 levels, and the doctor just found a Dientamoeba fragilis parasite. She has many symptoms, the worst is fatigue, lightheadedness and pain in her legs. Does any of that sound similar to your story?
      I’m wondering if that is the same “bug” you mentioned? We suspect she contracted this parasite when she was in Haiti.

      • Shawn
        Guelph, Ontario

        I apparently have toxic b6 levels, just found out today. I have neuropathy, weakness, severe fatigue, AND LEG PAIN. This is nuts…. How did your doctor test for that parasite (or parasites?) what is being done to treat?

      • Shawna
        Calgary alberta

        I am numbness and tingling in right side face and foot. I also have dientombea fragilis. Did you get this resolved in your daughter?

  16. Robert

    I have experienced burning sensations in my feet from time to time – most evident in the winter time… A few weeks ago (early September) the burning started up again… What was different??? Finally tracked it to taking too much B6. The B6 supplements from the Walmart Pharmacy are 100 or 200 mg tablets… I had been using a pill splitter to cut the 100mg tabs in half. The pill splitter broke and so I started taking 100 mg per day… This is when the burning started up. (After a couple of weeks of increased dosage.)
    On-line is where I see that doses of 100mg & greater have been linked to such symptoms… I stopped the B6 supplement four days ago and within 48 hours the burning sensation was virtually gone… I wonder why they even sell 200mg tablets? (I see that would be 10 THOUSAND percent of the RDA.)

  17. TDB

    I think this information is VERY helpful. As I don’t think I can remember all the problems and the people’s comments, I tried to print this page out but it did not print out — only the borders. WHY is that? We need to know the information about Vitamin B overdose.

  18. mtb

    Someone wrote in about a burning sensation in the feet. My late husband complained about that for sometime. His doctor told him it was neuropathy from his diabetes. But after reading in your column that low B12 can cause the burning sensation, I took him to another doctor to have his B12 checked. (His doctor would not do it.) Sure enough, his B12 was in the 230 range and when the doctor gave him a B12 injection once a month, the burning sensations went away. The very low B12 reading can also cause psychiatric symptoms.

  19. JKC

    One problem is that although in natural sources, Vitamin B6 is water soluble, the type used in most supplements is not. Consequently, it can build up faster than the body can get rid of it. People read B vitamins are water soluble, so they think there’s no harm. Of course, too much of anything is not good.

  20. DS

    I have been taking a B complex vitamin for twenty years, at least, to prevent migraines. I get 5 mg of B6 but that has been enough to end migraines. The product label says 5 mg is 250% of the “Daily Value.” I used to leave the pills at home when I traveled, but the headaches would come back. It doesn’t seem to take much B6 to prevent headaches, and I have not noticed any side effects.

  21. John B.

    It would be helpful to know the dosage of Vitamin B6 over how long a period of time that is suspected of causing this effect.

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