Vitamin B-6 plays many important roles in the nourishment of a developing child. Also known as pyridoxine, vitamin B-6 helps produce and balance the chemicals in the brain. It also helps build the immune system and is a key nutrient in the production of red blood cells. Most children obtain a healthy amount of B-6 from their diets, but parents should know the best sources of this vitamin to avoid a deficiency.
Foods with Vitamin B-6
Cooked spinach, raw bell peppers, romaine lettuce and steamed broccoli are rich sources of B-6. Sweet potatoes and baked potatoes with skins also provide plenty of B-6. For children who are fussy about vegetables, provide a creamy dip or dressing to make eating vegetables fun. Many kid-friendly fruits such as watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes and bananas also deliver a significant percentage of the recommended daily intake of this vitamin. Tuna, turkey and chicken breast are also good food sources for this nutrient.
Vitamin B-6 and Asthma
Children who suffer from asthma are sometimes treated with theophylline, a respiratory disease medication that can deplete the body's reserves of vitamin B-6. According to the National Institutes of Health, children who suffer from seizures while taking theophylline may be experiencing a reaction to low levels of B-6. A vitamin supplement may help prevent seizures, but you should always consult your child's doctor before adding a nutritional supplement to his diet.
Vitamin B-6 and Autism
Medical research is looking at the possibility of treating autism with vitamin B-6 and magnesium. Evidence exists that autism and pervasive developmental disorders are related to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain and damage to the nervous system, notes the Bastyr Center for Natural Health. A study published in 2002 in the journal "Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology" indicates that children with pervasive developmental disorders who were given megadoses of 100 mg of vitamin B-6 daily saw their verbal IQ's jump 11 points. Others studies have shown children with autism are more alert and less prone to outbursts while taking B-6. Although more study is needed, researchers are encouraged with these early results.
Signs of B-6 Deficiency
Although vitamin B-6 deficiencies are rare in children who have a well-balanced diet, there are signals that a child may need more of the nutrient. A sore, red tongue, facial rashes especially around the mouth and anemia are all signs of a possible B-6 deficiency. Children who have disorders related to their metabolisms are also prone to vitamin B-6 deficiencies. However, parents should always check with their pediatricians before treating any of these problems with a vitamin supplement.
Recommended Daily Intake
Vitamin B-6 is in multivitamins including children's chewable and liquid drops. However, always consult with your pediatrician before giving your child a supplement of any type. An adequate intake of vitamin B-6 for children ages 1 to 3 is 0.5 mg, while children ages 4 to 8 should obtain 0.6 mg daily. Ages 9 to 13 years need 1 mg, while males ages 14 to 18 years need 1.3 mg and females of the same ages need 1.2 mg daily.
Like This Article? Let Us Know!
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine); June 18, 2009
- World Healthiest Foods: Vitamin B6
- Office of Dietary Supplements; National Institutes of Health: Vitamin B6
- University of Southern Maine; Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorders; Oct. 2009
- Basty Center for Natural Health; Vitamin B6 Helpful for Autistic Children; 2002
- John Rowley/Photodisc/Getty Images