Vitamin B6 is another nutrient that plays an important but indirect role in bone metabolism. Here are a few aspects of the work it does for us:
- B6 is necessary for hydrochloric acid (HCl) production by the stomach, and HCl in turn is necessary for calcium absorption.
- B6 is necessary for adrenal functioning. In turn, several dozen hormones are produced by the adrenal glands, several of which aid in maintaining proper mineral balance within the body.
- B6 is also a necessary co-factor in the enzymatic cross-linking of collagen strands, which increase the strength of connective tissue.
- B6 is a factor in the breakdown of homocysteine, which tends to increase in postmenopausal women. Homocysteine is a metabolite of the amino acid methionine, which interferes with collagen cross-linking and leads to defective bone matrix and osteoporosis. It also contributes to the development of heart disease. B6, along with folic acid, helps prevent build-up of homocysteine in the body.
- All in all, more than 50 enzyme systems are directly dependent on vitamin B6, and many others function suboptimally without a sufficient amount of this nutrient.
Studies indicate that inadequate vitamin B6 intake is widespread among all population groups. In one study, all of 21 “normal American students” studied over a two–week period were found to be functionally deficient in B6.
One of the factors contributing to this problem is the relative instability of vitamin B6, which is destroyed by light and heat. As a result, much of it is lost in food processing, storage, and preparation. In addition, higher animal protein intake creates an increased demand for B6, as do other common B6 antagonists such as yellow dye #5 (food coloring), oral contraceptives, and certain other drugs and alcohol.