Vitamin B6 and Arthritis


High doses of vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, may reduce inflammatory markers associated with rheumatoid arthritis, researchers report in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the body’s immune system, which normally fights against disease and infection, attacks itself. Unlike osteoarthritis, which only affects the bones and cartilage, rheumatoid arthritis may also cause swelling in other areas of the body.

In the 12-week study, 35 adults with rheumatoid arthritis were randomly assigned to take either 100 milligrams of vitamin B6 plus 5 milligrams of folic acid or 5 milligrams of folic acid alone daily. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin B6 is 1.3 milligrams for adults who are 19-50 years old.

At the beginning and end of the study, the researchers measured the patients’ blood levels of pro-inflammatory markers, including interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). The researchers also measured immune responses by recording the number of immune cells present in the blood.

IL-6 and TNF-alpha levels significantly decreased in the vitamin B6 group after supplementation, while no significant changes were noted in the folic acid group. However, the number of immune cells was generally similar between the two groups.

Additional research is needed to determine if vitamin B6 is beneficial for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Many other integrative therapies have been studied as potential treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis. For instance, borage seed oil may be beneficial in treating rheumatoid arthritis because it is high in gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which has known anti-inflammatory effects. Several human studies suggest that fish oil supplements may improve morning stiffness and joint tenderness. Group therapy has also been reported to improve joint pain.

For more information about integrative therapy options for rheumatoid arthritis, please visit Natural Standard’sComparative Effectiveness database.