Running man

Vitamin B6 and Its Role in Athletic Performance

Research has uncovered many important discoveries in regard to athletes, nutrition, and vitamins in the past decade alone. While athletes typify a certain fitness ideal, many of them straddle a fine line between being in great shape, having poor eating habits, and being vitamin deficient. This is particularly true in regard to the “B vitamins.”

In a summary article appearing in Science Daily (December 27, 2006)[i],[ii] based on research by the University of Oregon and entitled: “Poor Athletic Performance Linked To Vitamin Deficiency,” the authors found:

“Active individuals lacking in B-vitamins — including college athletes and other elite competitors — may perform worse during high-intensity exercise and have a decreased ability to repair and build muscle than counterparts with nutrient-rich diets, a new study concludes.”

The University of Oregon Study again confirmed a piece of research[iii] conducted in 1991 by van der Beek that found:

“Vitamin deficiencies can certainly impair exercise performance. A daily intake of less than one-third of the RDA for several of the B vitamins (B1, B2 and B6) and vitamin C, even when other vitamins are supplemented in the diet, may lead to a significant decrease in VO2max and the anaerobic threshold in less than four weeks.”

Vitamin B6 Function: The Winning Attitude
As athletes burn greater amounts of calories, hydrate to a greater degree, and subsequently sweat and urinate fluids, water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin B6 leave the body.

Of the B vitamins, unlike B12 or B1, (Pyridoxine) vitamin B6 functions are not as widely known, and yet vitamin B6 supplementation may play a particularly significant role in athletic performance and even the “performance mentality” of athletes. Although most references to vitamin B6 function tell us that in normal diets B6 deficiencies are rare, in athletes where diets are limited and large amounts of calories are burned, deficiencies in the amount and functions of vitamin B6 may be present and thus require a vitamin B6 supplement.

For example, the National Institutes of Health Guidelines (Reviewed September 15, 2011), point to Vitamin B6 supplement deficiencies as leading to: “…anemia, itchy rashes…depression, confusion, and a weak immune system.”

As quoted in Everyday Health, an online publication, Nutritionist Dee Sandquist, MS, RD, CD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association states that the function of vitamin B6: “Is important for cardiovascular, digestive, immune, muscular, and nervous system function. The B6 vitamin is needed for proper brain development and function and to make the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which affect mood…”

Numerous articles have been written about depression in athletes. In a 2013 study reported in the prestigious Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine[iv] entitled: “The prevalence of failure-based depression among elite athletes,” swimmers (not hockey or football players) were tested for depression. The study concluded:

“The findings suggest that the prevalence of depression among elite athletes is higher than what has been previously reported in the literature. Being ranked among the very elite athletes is related to an increase in susceptibility to depression, particularly in relation to a failed performance.”

While it would be irresponsible in this post to claim that depression among elite athletes may be due to not meeting the RDA of vitamin B6, there is no harm in vitamin B6 supplements in athletic diets – at any level of performance with a B 6 supplement to help athletes maintain a positive mental outlook.

An article in The Daily Beast (February 3, 2014) entitled: “Are Female Long-Distance Runners More Prone To Suicidal Depression?” the article states many facts that may contribute to depressed athletes and that, “Stories of eating disorders abound.”

The point here is that athletes (even middle-of-the-pack athletes like us) get depressed. Despite stories about “runner’s high,” poor diets and a lack of B vitamins may be contributing factors. There are many things athletes at any level of competition can do to feel better about themselves and their performance. Vitamin B 6 supplement may prove to benefit especially when nutrition is poor and endurance is pushed.


[i] Oregon State University. “Poor Athletic Performance Linked To Vitamin Deficiency.” Science Daily. Science Daily, 27 December 2006. (also please see the reference below)
[ii] Wolfe, K., B-vitamins and exercise: does exercise alter requirements? 2006, Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.Oct;16(5):453-84.
[iii] van der Beek E. Vitamin supplementation and physical exercise performance. Journal of Sport Sciences. 1991;92:77–79.
[iv] Hammond, T. Clin J Sport Med. 2013 Jul;23(4):273-7



We just completed a very large Homeopathic tablet order that required involvement from 4 different facilities. There was nobody else in the country that was willing to help us that we called until we found superior. First shipment came last week and we couldn’t be happier or more impressed with the team. Thank you Justine, Phil, Stephenie you are the best!

I was choosing between two companies to create a formulation, and it came down to their level of service, expertise and confidence in their ability to execute. After speaking to Phil, their lead guy who knows all things supplements and is very easy to communicate with, was enthusiastic and helped to create a strategy to see my vision through. The last thing you want is a transactional relationship in this industry, so whether you’re a first timer or a veteran, these guys know how to add value no matter what level you’re at. Highly recommend Superior and their team to get the job done.
When they say “Superior” they aren’t kidding. Of over 100 companies on our NSF list that we called, and over 20 that we talked to, Superior was the ONLY one that consistently answered their phones, worked incredibly diligently to problem solve and R&D an incredibly complex patented proprietary product, and consistently was two or three steps ahead of us, the landscape and their competitors. Looking forward to a long relationship Superior!
We’ve been using Superior for over 5 years. We came to them because our last manufacturer stopped making the capsule size I needed. I looked everywhere for a replacement. Luckily, I found Superior. They quoted me a fair price and sourced a hard to find ingredient quickly. In the 5 years we’ve had them make our product, which is a custom formulation, they have never delivered late once. Quality control is very high and I get constant updates from Phil our point person while it is being manufactured. I cannot recommend them enough.
Our previous manufacturer was 3 months late on a production and barely spoke with us. We have run many runs with Superior and as with all manufacturing, there was an order that was a little late because of poor crop growth. Not only did they warn us ahead of time they showed us the list of suppliers they were calling day and night to try to find replacement material. Best company ever!
Jake, Justine and Phil are just a few of the team members we have had the pleasure of working with at Superior. As a marketing agency working in the supplement industry, we work with many suppliers on behalf of our clients. I especially appreciate Superior Supplements Manufacturing because of their dedication to customer relationships. They go to extreme measures to ensure quality ingredients, fair pricing and great turn around times. The staff is also extremely knowledgeable. I would highly recommend this team.