The vitamin B6 requirement in oral contraceptive users

Nutr Rev. 1979 Nov;37(11):344-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.1979.tb06636.x.


PIP: Women using oral contraceptives (OCs) have been found to excrete increased amounts of several metabolites arising from tryptophan catabolism, the most pronounced change being in xanthurenic acid and kynurenic acid excretion. The abnormality is largely corrected by the administration of pyridoxine, suggesting an increased need for vitamin B6 in OC users. Although a majority of malnourished and well-nourished women show the abnormality in tryptophan metabolism following OC use, investigators differ in their assessment of vitamin B6 status using other tests. The question of vitamin B6 deficiency in OC users is controversial. 2 types of multiparameter assessment approaches have been used to elucidate the vitamin B6 requirement of OC users. In a study of malnourished India women, it was observed that daily supplements of 10 mg pyridoxine from the day of starting contraception largely prevented the development of the abnormality in tryptophan metabolism. This level of supplementation also prevented the OC-mediated deterioration in vitamin B6 status as determined byerythrocyte aspartate aminotransferase activation. In another type of multiparametric approach Brown et al. and Laklem et al. measured the pyridoxine status of OC users on known intakes of the vitamin in a depletion followed by repletion study. Despite the current controversy, it might be advisable to supplement women using OC with pyridoxine to ensure a daily intake of at least 5 mg vitamin B6.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contraceptives, Oral / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Pyridoxine / metabolism*
  • Pyridoxine / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin B 6 Deficiency / drug therapy


  • Contraceptives, Oral
  • Pyridoxine