Background: No large-scale, population-based study has considered the descriptive epidemiology of vitamin B-6 status with use of plasma pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP), the indicator of vitamin B-6 adequacy used to set the current Recommended Dietary Allowance, which is < or = 2 mg/d for all subgroups.
Objectives: We sought to examine the epidemiology of vitamin B-6 status in the US population.
Methods: In > 6000 participants aged > or = 1 y in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2003-2004), we considered relations between plasma PLP and various subject characteristics and examined trends in plasma PLP and homocysteine with vitamin B-6 intake, both overall and in selected subgroups.
Results: In males, plasma PLP decreased with age after adolescence only in nonusers of supplemental vitamin B-6. Regardless of supplement use, plasma PLP concentrations of women of childbearing age were significantly lower than those of comparably aged men, and most oral contraceptive users had plasma PLP < 20 nmol/L. The prevalence of low plasma PLP was significantly > 3% at vitamin B-6 intakes from 2 to 2.9 mg/d in all subgroups and at intakes from 3 to 4.9 mg/d in smokers, the elderly, non-Hispanic blacks, and current and former oral contraceptive users. Intakes from 3 to 4.9 mg/d compared with < 2 mg/d were associated with significant protection from low plasma PLP in most subgroups and from hyperhomocysteinemia in the elderly.
Conclusions: Vitamin B-6 intakes of 3 to 4.9 mg/d appear consistent with the definition of a Recommended Dietary Allowance for most Americans. However, at that intake level, substantial proportions of some population subgroups may not meet accepted criteria for adequate vitamin B-6 status.