Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is essential for the formation of new cells and for maintaining immunity. Studies in animals show a range of immune defects when the diet is deficient. Although deficiency is rare in people eating a normal Western diet, low levels have been observed in people with HIV. Deficiency is difficult to diagnose.

The vitamin can reduce the toxicities of the tuberculosis and Mycobacterium avium intracellulare (MAI) drug isoniazid, and one study amongst HIV-positive gay men suggested that those deficient in vitamin B6 were more likely to be depressed and anxious and that when this deficiency was corrected, there was a significant decrease in depression.1 It has been suggested that AZT (zidovudine, Retrovir) use increases the need for this vitamin, although studies have shown no clear link.

Another study treated 12 HIV positive people with 20 to 25 mg of vitamin B6 and observed a small increase in CD4 cell count amongst 8 of the 12 over a six month period. In contrast, an untreated control group showed no improvement in CD4 count.2

High intake of vitamin B6 (20mg per day or more) has been associated with a reduced risk of developing AIDS in a cohort followed for six years.3

Doses of more than 2g a day have been shown to cause nerve damage. Most nutritionists believe 50mg to be adequate for anyone. Good food sources of vitamin B6 are meat, whole grains, brewer's yeast and whole grains, wholemeal bread.

Vitamin B6 is also known as pyridoxine.


  1. Shor-Posner G et al. Anxiety and depression in early HIV-1 infection and its association with vitamin B-6 status. Eighth International Conference on AIDS, Amsterdam, abstract PoB 3711, 1992
  2. Mantero-Atienza E et al. Vitamin B-6 and immune function in HIV infection. Sixth International Conference on AIDS, San Francisco, abstract 3123, 1990
  3. Tang A et al. The effect of micronutrient intake on survival in HIV-1 infection. Tenth International Conference on AIDS, Yokohama, abstract PB0 894, 1994

Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

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