Could it be vitamin B6 toxicity?

Kirsty is a long term friend and part time client of mine who had a weird set of symptoms and a variety of medical tests looking for a diagnosis – no one was considering vitamin B6 toxicity, especially from a clean eating and regular exerciser like Kirsty.  I first saw Kirsty following her plantar fasciitis diagnosis and her progress was never linear, meaning sometimes she improved and sometimes she flared.  Kirsty did everything right – she did her rehab exercises, she switched in to some water based exercise, she got off her aching feet when she could but her job kept her on her feet.  Tricky.  Everything about this story is a little bit complex and that is why it took so long to get an accurate diagnosis.  I might add that Vitamin B6 toxicity is rare.  So if you are reading this and ticking a lot of boxes please consult your medical team.  Do not jump to conclusions and diagnose yourself with vitamin B toxicity.  I’ll now hand this story over to Kirsty . . . . . 

My journey with Vitamin B6 toxicity, by Kirsty

“Sharing this story, because I find it ridiculous & awkward to explain, but I’m telling it mostly because it may prevent it happening to someone else.  The dawning of 2020 saw a little injury creep up for me. No biggy –  an overuse tendon issue in my foot, with a nerve entrapment. Not a huge surprise, given my job & hobby meant plenty of time on my feet & throw in a couple of long standing foot issues for good measure. At the time, I was bummed that I couldn’t walk my usual tracks for 8-10 weeks while I healed. Lucky no one told me it would be 16 months until I could complete a lap of Risdon Brook dam again, or be 14 months until I could tolerate the feel of my trusty hiking boots on my foot again.

While theoretically doing all the right things, I found myself with increasingly intense nerve pain, numbness, pins & needles. The months ahead saw it spread to bilateral feet & hands. At its worst this time last year, I couldn’t sit without pain, let alone stand, my legs were shaky & twitchy, I could barely think straight. Everyday tasks were hard to navigate, if at all. Buying a loaf of bread became akin to a cross country course & socks were like a self induced form of torture. My feet were always so cold to touch, but on fire inside.It’s July 2020 now & despite 4 months on crutches & input from Drs, physio & podiatrist, things continued to decline. How fortunate to have a G.P that tested for B6 levels amongst other things & yep, it’s a thing – I had way too much B6 building up in my body. Funnily enough, I’m not into supplements, a pretty clean ‘eat the rainbow’ sort of girl, but here I was, taking a magnesium supplement (with B6 50mg in it) for my injury & would have kept taking it, as by now my body was in a deconditioned state.

The relief after a few weeks off the B6 was immense. Sleep returned, it’s much easier when your feet & hands aren’t on fire! As for the nerve damage, that’s an uncertain journey of time. It’s slow going, but In the right direction. Moving on from a few hundred metres on footpath at the end of 2020 to now being able to spend time on gentle tracks amongst the beauty of this island, is a blessing (June 2021).Did I ever think I’d be walking flat trails, with hiking poles? Nah, but 6 months ago, I thought I would never see a waterfall again. I’ve thrown myself a few pity parties along the way, felt totally out of sorts at times & discovered that patience is indeed a virtue. A long way to go on this journey yet, but who ever knows what lies ahead anyway? One thing I do know is that I am ever so grateful for the kindness & patience from friends & family & I remain overwhelmed by the support of my amazing workplace.

So, Vitamin B6 toxicity, I’m not saying it will happen to you, but please be aware. I must point out, that it is considered an issue at much higher amounts than I was taking, but others too, have been affected by lower doses. Warnings of neuropathy currently only have to be on products containing over 50mg, I sure hope that regulation changes in the future. It’s also not a problem from food sources, so don’t go cutting B6 foods out of your diet.

While conquering the dam & ticking off a few rehab goals of late, it’s not always like that. Some days feel good, other days, it still sucks. I can wake up with pins & needles, the smallest thing can trigger off nerve pain & sometimes I’m a bit shirty about it all. It’s on with the rehab & for my work colleagues, I’m finally a FIMS 7 on stairs, so things are looking up. One final point, I now have to wear clown shoes, it’s been a total fashion disaster. Thanks for reading”

How much Vitamin B6 is recommended?

I’m not even going to go there.  Look at the facts here – Kirsty took a recommended dose of Vitamin B6 that was added to a magnesium supplement.  Vitamin B6 from food is not an issue.

 Here’s a link if you would like more reading on vitamin B6 toxicity

 Jo Cordell-Cooper 0409 862206

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Jo Cordell-Cooper operates the award winning business Jo CC Holistic PT, offers personal training, stress management strategies, preparation for hiking workouts, and adventure travel to multi-day hikes, locally and overseas.  Join us on facebook in my free group Holistic Personal Training for more healthy lifestyle tips and tricks.

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