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Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine (Molecule of the Month for February 1997)

Structures of Vitamins

Vitamins are substances that play an essential part in animal metabolic processes, but which the animals cannot synthesise. In their absence the animal develops certain deficiency diseases or other abnormal conditions. Vitamins are chemicals other than proteins, carbohydrates, fats and mineral salts that are essential constituents of the food of animals. Although certain animals can synthesise certain vitamins and all animals needing vitamin D can manufacture it from ergosterol in the presence of u.v. light, the precise mechanism of action of many vitamins is still poorly understood. Small amounts of vitamins are essential for the regulation of all bodily processes. With the exception of vitamin D, the human body cannot make its own vitamins, and some cannot be stored. Vitamins must therefore be obtained from a food on a daily basis. A person's diet must provide all the necessary vitamins.

Vitamin (B6), Pyridoxine, 2-methyl-3-hydroxy-4,5-bis(hydroxy-methyl)pyridine, is essential for protein metabolism, and for the formation of haemoglobin - the pigment in the blood that carries oxygen round the body. Pyridoxine is needed by rats to cure dermatitis developed on a Vitamin B -free diet supplemented by thiamine and riboflavin. Its absence from diet is also associated with anaemia. It is needed also by certain bacteria.

The related compounds pyridoxamine and pyridoxal, in which the CH2OH group in the 4-postion is replaced by CH2NH2 and CHO respectively, also posses vitamin B6 activity and for certain bacteria are much more active than pyridoxine.

Good sources of Vitamin B6 are rice husks, maize, wheat germ, yeast and other sources of vitamin B.

Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)

Picture of Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine 3D model

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Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine structure
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Picture of Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine

Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for February 1997 )

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