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The FDA and Vitamin B-6

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In recent issues, we have told you about Medicure Pharma’s so-called Citizens Petition to the FDA to ban any dietary supplements containing the natural and active form of vitamin B-6 called pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (P5P).  A reader has asked: what is the difference between pyridoxine, the most common form of B-6, and P5P? Most supplements contain synthetic pyridoxine. Synthetic pyridoxine won’t be banned — why worry?
Good questions! The short answer: we can’t live without the P5P form. P5P is the active as well as natural form of B-6. Our lives absolutely depend on it.
The key here is that your body can’t use pyridoxine as such. The pyridoxine must be converted inside your body into the active form of the vitamin, P5P. Nor is this a simple process. First your stomach acid has to separate the pyridoxine from other foods. Then it must be absorbed in the small intestine. From there it goes to the liver which actually converts it to P5P. If pyridoxine isn’t converted, it can’t do its job. Your body can only use the the P5P. That’s why many people are low in B-6 as shown by blood tests. They may be eating lots of B-6 rich foods and taking supplements, but if your body can’t convert these food sources into P5P, you will be low in B-6.
Does this matter? Well consider some of the diseases linked with low P5P:
— cancer
— heart conditions
— asthma
— pain
— depression
— memory loss
— migraine
— psoriasis
— carpal tunnel
Actually the list goes on and on, but you get the idea. P5P is essential. You need it for your blood to carry oxygen, for normal enzyme reactions to take place, for your immune system, for your brain’s neurotransmitters, for blood sugar levels, for hormones, for an endless list of critical physical functions. But — here’s the rub. SOME PEOPLE DO NOT CONVERT PYRIDOXINE TO P5P VERY WELL. BY ONE ESTIMATE ONLY A THIRD OF PEOPLE ACTUALLY CONVERT PYRIDOXINE TO P5P EFFICIENTLY. THIS IS BELIEVED TO CAUSE A HOST OF MEDICAL PROBLEMS RANGING FROM HYPERACTIVITY IN CHILDREN TO FAILING IMMUNE SYSTEMS.
In some cases, prescription drugs are the culprit. They may interfere with your body’s ability to convert pyridoxine to P5P. Among the known examples are some drugs for arthritis and high blood pressure among others.
Let’s now picture a world in which supplement companies are barred from making or selling P5P. Only drug companies can make or sell it and only doctors can prescribe it. Your child is hyperactive or an elderly parent has Parkinson’s? You have to persuade a doctor to prescribe it. It may not even be available in its pure form without other drugs mixed in. It costs a fortune.
Keep in mind: this is a B vitamin. One of the most basic and bio-active vitamins. We absolutely depend on it.
For more on P5P, an excellent summary can be found in Naturally Well Today, Dr Marcus Laux, ND’s newsletter, Jan 2008.

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