Efficacy of Vitamin B6 in the Treatment of PMS

Efficacy of Vitamin B6 in the Treatment of PMS

Anne D. Walling

Women frequently take large daily doses of vitamin B6 for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), even though nutritional deficiency of this vitamin is rare. The recommended dietary allowance is about 2 mg per day; high intake has been associated with severe toxicity, including neuropathy. An intake of 200 mg per day may cause reversible damage, and an intake of 2,000 mg per day or greater is associated with peripheral neuropathy. In some European countries, the quantity of vitamin B6 that may be purchased or prescribed has been restricted to reduce the risk of toxicity from excessive use. Wyatt and colleagues reviewed the evidence for benefit of vitamin B6 in PMS in light of concerns about potential toxicity from excessive uncontrolled use.

The authors searched literature and data sources for reports of treatment of PMS and use of vitamin B6. They also reviewed references of all articles found and contacted manufacturers and researchers for unpublished relevant data. All trials found were assessed by two techniques to establish methodologic quality and subjected to funnel-plot analysis to detect bias. Of the 25 trials identified, four were excluded because they did not use a placebo group, two were excluded because they were retrospective and nine were excluded because the quantitative data could not be analyzed.

Only one of the remaining 10 trials provided details of the method for randomization. None of the trials met criteria for quality. The number of participants ranged from 31 to 434. The trials used dosages of 50 to 600 mg per day of vitamin B6 in a variety of regimens and often in combination with other agents. Exclusion criteria varied, as well as information the trials provided about participants, particularly their use of hormone preparations.

In spite of concerns about the quality of the studies, the authors calculated odds ratios for improvement in all premenstrual symptoms and specifically in depressive symptoms. Overall, the analysis provided an odds ratio of 1.57 showing benefit for use of vitamin B6 in PMS. One trial was significantly different from the others and when this trial was excluded from the calculation, the odds ratio improved to 2.32 in favor of vitamin B6 use to improve overall symptoms. Five trials evaluated vitamin B6 for symptoms of premenstrual depression; the overall odds ratio was 2.12, but this ratio fell to 1.69 when one outlying trial was excluded from the analysis. Only one of the more than 900 patients in the trials reported symptoms possibly attributable to neuropathy.

The authors stress that no randomized controlled trials of adequate quality could be identified to support a definitive conclusion about the efficacy of vitamin B6 in treating PMS. The limited evidence from published research indicates that 100 mg of vitamin B6 daily may relieve overall symptoms better than a placebo. Less evidence was available to support dosages of 50 mg per day. Premenstrual depression may also be relieved by 50 to 100 mg of vitamin B6. Well-designed controlled trials are needed to clarify the possible benefits and side effects of vitamin B6 in the treatment of PMS.

Wyatt KM, et al. Efficacy of vitamin B-6 in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: systematic review. BMJ May 22, 1999;318:1375-81.

U.S. Public Health Service Recommendations

for HIV Postexposure Prophylaxis Regimens

Regimen Application Drug regimen

Basic Occupational HIV exposures for which there is a Four weeks (28

days) of both zidovudine, in

recognized transmission risk (based on risk a dosage

of 600 mg every day in divided

factors for occupational infection identified doses

(i.e., 300 mg two times per day,

in the CDC’s retrospective case-control study) 200 mg

three times per day or 100 mg

every four hours) and lamivudine, in a

dosage of 150 mg two times per day

Expanded Occupational HIV exposures that pose an Basic regimen plus

either indinavir, in a

increased risk for transmission (e.g., larger dosage of

800 mg every eight hours or

volume of blood and/or higher virus titer in

nelfinavir, in a dosage of 750 mg three

blood) based on the presence of two of the times per


risk factors identified in the case-control study

HIV = human immunodeficiency virus; CDC = Centers for Disease Control and


Adapted from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public Health

Service guidelines for the management of health-care worker exposures to

HIV and recommendations for postexposure prophylaxis. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly

Rep 1998;47:1-33.

COPYRIGHT 1999 American Academy of Family Physicians

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group