high doses of vitamin B6, excess vitamin B6, vitamin overdose

What happens when you take high doses of vitamin B6? A deficiency of this crucial nutrient has been linked to nerve damage, particularly nerve pain. But is it possible to get too much?

Taking High Doses of Vitamin B6 for Sore Hands:

Q. I have been dealing with sore hands. I’ve had pain in the palm of my hand and been unable to touch my fingers to my thumb.

I started to take 200 mg of Vitamin B6, and after three weeks I am seeing a great deal of improvement. Is it safe to take this much B6?

A. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) has been used to treat a variety of conditions including carpal tunnel syndrome, PMS and muscle cramps. High doses of vitamin B6 may cause nerve damage.

Safe Upper Limit?

Although there is no evidence of harm at 200 mg a day, the Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health says that 100 mg of vitamin B6 is the safe upper limit. Some scientists who have reviewed the evidence believe that doses above 50 mg per day may be harmful (Ghavanini & Kimpinski, Journal of Clinical Neuromuscular Disease, Sep. 2014).

Robert reported:

“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.

“On-line I saw 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.)”

Why Are High Doses of Vitamin B6 Risky?

Vitamin B6, like certain other vitamins, can occur in several different forms including pyridoxine, pyridoxamine, pyridoxal, pyridoxal-5-phosphate or pyridoxamine-5-phosphate. Researchers recently determined that pyridoxine inhibits the enzymes that process the active form, pyridoxal-5′-phosphate (Vrolijk et al, Toxicology In Vitro, online July 14, 2017). Most vitamin pills supply pyridoxine, but it interferes with normal vitamin B6 activity in the body. That’s why taking high doses of vitamin B6 supplements can lead to neuropathy.

Revised 8/21/17

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  1. Jason
    North Carolina
    Reply

    I have also been taking the 100mg dose and i am now thinking that it was to high as well. I started getting nerve sensations in my extremites and the infamous heart burn that to much b6 can cause. I started to cut the b6 in half but most of the time all it does is break up so i take what i think is 50mg. I have yet to find Vitamin b6 under 100mg and i to am also wondering why they sell it at walmart in such a high does. Last bottle i got they only had one bottle of the Spring Valley brand left and it was 100mg with 250 tabs and you just can’t beat the price of $3.99.

    Problem is i want to keep taking b6 because i hear that b6 and b12 go hand in hand together with the b6 allowing the b12 to get absorbed like its sopposed too and i love b12. I also hear the b6 and b12 are good for weight loss since they curb your appitite a bit. My regimine is 50mg of b6, 500mcg b12 twice a day in sublingual form, 1 multi-vitamin, 2 1200mg of fish oil split up through the day and two 1000mg of flaxseed oil split up through the day. This combination is a great energy and mood booster and helps curb my appitite to where i only eat like twice a day without really going hungry. Seeing as i put on 45lbs in two years i really want to loose the weight and i think it helps but the b6 is worring me a bit. I just started to cut the b6 in half for about a week now so i’ll feel a bit better knowing its under 100mg, guess i’ll just wait and find out.

  2. Roberta
    Wa
    Reply

    Oh, God. I have been living off the energen Vit. C for ever….found out my blood level for B6 was 70. Yes, I have some nerve neuropathy, and what this toxic amount was doing to me only scares me now. NO more vitamin B6 for me, and no more B vitamins except for what is in a simple multi vitamin. I feel so sorry to have been harming my body this way. Energen C should NOT be putting the amount of Vit B6 in it as it does. It is 500 times the amount of recommendations. They did not do that to the other B vitamins in that product.

  3. JB
    NC
    Reply

    I’d be interested to know whether the concerns revolve around regular B6, or the P5P form of B6. With all the new genetic tests available on each individual’s methylation capabilities, I believe one can get tested to see which form of B6 is use-able and helpful for them, rather than un-useable due to certain bodies having genetically reduced methylation capabilities. Could methylation constraints lead to build up and unhelpful results? I wonder if the P5P form was developed to overcome that issue? If so, some people may be able to simply switch what form they take rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

  4. Ellie
    Reply

    Back in the 1960-70s there was a home health “remedy” of three ingredients, as I recall. One was B6. Shortly after I began taking it, I developed a severe pain in my shin. I called the doctor who had no idea what caused it. I figured it out my self – it was the B6. As soon as I stopped taking it, the pain went away.

  5. Susan
    California
    Reply

    I was taking 50 mg of B6 and started having symptoms including nerve pain in my feet and hands and then I started walking like Frankenstein. I had lost some of my motor control.

    Fortunately my GP tested me for B6 toxicity and my levels were really high. He said to stop taking it immediately. It took over a year to see any real improvemement, but now a few years later I am much better.

    I think it is criminal to sell B6 in large doses.

    • Roberta
      Reply

      I agree Susan.

  6. Hank
    Reply

    I have severe adult asthma, and have been taking 100 mg B-6 every day for the last 30 years for the problem. No problems with neuropathy here.

  7. Sherrie
    Reply

    I take a B12 supplement because my B12 was low at one time. Is there also a danger in taking B12 supplements?

  8. J C
    Reply

    Not one issue I read of B-6 that it helps stops seizures from happening & balancing brain chemistry of the brain chemicals of Glutamate, Serotonin, GABA & Dopamine. How much B-6 will help with all of that?

  9. Mart
    India
    Reply

    I bought countrylife b-complex but realized that they have high doses like 80 Mg b6 & 100 mg naicin.(apart from high B1,b2, folate-800 mg etc) Now, I am regretting that I have wasted the money.

    But I got a thought that to negate these high doses, can I take this b-complex 2 or 3 times a day? This way, average per day daily consumption will come down and should not harm the body
    OR may be, even taking 1 single high dose can start showing me its side effect?

    I am old too, 69 years of age and don’t want to take any chances. Please help

    • Terry Graedon
      Reply

      It’s better to throw it out and not take such high doses, even though it seems a waste of money. Better that than nerve damage.

  10. Laurie
    Greensboro, NC
    Reply

    I have been taking Shaklee’s B-complex vitamin (1 a day) along with a multivitamin (also Shaklee(1 a day) for 20 yeares. I got approximtely 15-16mg a day. I went to a top national neurologist and he said my neuropathy and burning, tingling, weakness and balance problems as well as twitching are due to the build up of B-6 and I should not exceed 2 mg a day. My B-6 level was very high.

    It is unconscionable to me that so-called experts say that 100-200mg of B-6 a day should be fine. I was accepted into one of the best graduate programs to be a Nutritionist and I was always told that ALL of the B vitamins are water soluble. This is clearly not true and has misled people for well over 40 years. Why are b vitamins still sold as a whole complex when B-6 is so potentially harmful? This is an atrocity in my opinion. Please explain and don’t tell me I am one of the “rare people” who have experienced the negative effects. This is a normal response to that level of B-6. I would like an explanation and a change of recommendations asap in our country. If you must take the brand, Shaklee out of this, then do that, but I expect this to be published to help others. Thank you! It is the only thing to do in good conscience, I think!!

    • Ana
      United States
      Reply

      Laurie you are so right. I was taking a b complex 50 for a couple months and my blood test showed 7x more than the normal upper range. Now I have constant tingling, numbness, and aches in my extremities. Doctors don’t seem concerned with my high b6 levels. Will the parathesias and aches ever go away?

      • LB
        USA
        Reply

        Did you ever get any improvement in your symptoms after stopping?

  11. Mary G.
    San Francisco
    Reply

    I had a question about my low back nerve pain, and drinking a zero-calorie, vitamin water daily that has B6 in it. My blood test showed a super, super high, like 900 count B6 level and I’m wondering if this “healthy” zero sugar, vitamin water is causing my sky-high B6 level in my blood? It is listed very low in the ingredients panel, so I didn’t think it would be doing it alone. I don’t take other vitamins, but do drink a big brand name, low-carb Protein Drink with B6 in it also. One daily. Think this is all causing my nerve pain in my low back? Some days I can barely walk or turn. Taking a deep breath hurts my back, too. Your input would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

  12. Todd
    USA
    Reply

    If you’re gonna take B-6 regularly, it’s best to take a break to avoid this. Even better, get the active form, P-5-P, available in health food stores. Some of the nerve issues from retail
    store type B-6 comes from it’s form, Pyridoxine, matabolizing into substances that are toxic to nerves in large, continuous doses. Myself, I start getting nerve issues, odd sensations, etc. after taking only 50 mg. B-6 for a while.

  13. Terry G
    Reply

    Generally, we suggest that people use no more than 50 mg of vitamin B6 a day. It seems that there are individual differences in the vulnerability to nerve damage from excess pyridoxine (vitamin B6), but this amount seems safe for nearly everyone. And it is WAY higher than the RDA.

  14. NB
    Reply

    Last year I discovered through a posting on Drugs.com that suggested that Amlodipine and Singulair (Montelukast) can interact to cause symptoms of neuropathy. I was taking both, so I stopped the Singulair. In two weeks, my symptoms diminished considerably. My cardiologist then changed the Amlodipine to another type of drug. The neurologist said there was definitely an interaction, but it was relatively rare. (Incidentally, the notice on the website has now disappeared. Luckily, I had printed it.)
    As a result of this, I no longer take anything with a side effect listed of tingling or numbness in the extremities. Some BP meds are documented to have this as a possible side effect, and flouroquinolone antibiotics also can have this effect. Also, older people can be more sensitive to medicine’s side effects. (I am 70+.)

  15. Abigail
    Reply

    Does taking fairly high daily doses of Vit. B6 affect Vit. B2 levels as we were told back in the 80’s? I took B6 regularly then (Dr. Bastyr had me on 500m Mg. to combat dizziness) which affected my eyesight, though it also had the welcome side effect of decreasing carbohydrate cravings. For me is B6 is diuretic.

  16. bev
    Reply

    I have read that you should always take the B’s together. I use a B complex 100 – it’s also timed release.

  17. KP
    Reply

    Would there be a problem like this with Folate (as Methyltetrahydrofolate). My Dr has my husband and I taking it. Says our detoxification pathways missing something and this helps the detoxification process work. 1 mg. Has us take 1-2 a day.

  18. Kathy J.
    Reply

    My mom, who is 86 yrs. old, continues to suffer from neuropathy after having shingles 5 years ago. They were located in her left leg from the knee area down. When it kicks in during the night she walks the floors and finally takes Aleve and it seems to help. I’m not sure how much Vitamin B6 she takes but is there anything else that can take to alleviate this pain. The only meds she is on is 5 mg. of Amlidopine.

    • Donna
      grand rapids
      Reply

      Hot pepper cream worked for me

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