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Vitamin B6 vs. Vitamin B12: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 19, 2023
Vitamin B6 refers to a group of chemically similar compounds essential for metabolism; Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is vital for nerve function and the formation of DNA and red blood cells.

Key Differences

Vitamin B6 encompasses a group of chemically related compounds which play a fundamental role in various metabolic processes. This vitamin assists in the production of neurotransmitters, substances essential for the transmission of signals in the brain. As such, Vitamin B6 is instrumental in ensuring the smooth functioning of the nervous system.
Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, serves a different set of functions. It is crucial for maintaining the health of the nervous system, facilitating the formation of red blood cells, and aiding in DNA synthesis. A distinctive characteristic of Vitamin B12 is that it contains a metal ion, cobalt, which is central to its molecular structure.
While both Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 are water-soluble vitamins and part of the B-vitamin family, their sources can be different. Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods, including meats, whole grains, and some fruits and vegetables. In contrast, Vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal products, making it a nutrient of concern for vegetarians and vegans.
Deficiencies in either of these vitamins can lead to health complications. A lack of Vitamin B6 may result in anemia, skin disorders, or nerve damage, to name a few. On the other hand, a deficiency in Vitamin B12 can lead to fatigue, weakness, constipation, and more severe complications related to nerve damage.
In therapeutic applications, both these vitamins are utilized in different scenarios. Vitamin B6 can be employed to address high homocysteine levels in the blood, among other things, while Vitamin B12 might be administered to treat pernicious anemia and certain nerve conditions.

Comparison Chart

Chemical Structure

Group of related compounds
Contains a cobalt ion


Involved in metabolism and neurotransmitter production
Vital for nerve function, DNA synthesis, and red blood cell formation


Meats, whole grains, some fruits and vegetables
Mainly animal products

Deficiency Effects

Anemia, skin disorders, nerve damage
Fatigue, weakness, constipation, nerve damage

Therapeutic Uses

Address high homocysteine levels
Treat pernicious anemia and nerve conditions

Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 Definitions

Vitamin B6

A water-soluble vitamin involved in metabolism.
The physician advised increasing Vitamin B6 intake for better metabolic health.

Vitamin B12

A water-soluble vitamin crucial for nerve function.
To support her nervous system, she took Vitamin B12 supplements.

Vitamin B6

Found in various foods like meats and grains.
Whole grains are a great source of Vitamin B6.

Vitamin B12

Primarily found in animal products.
Vegans often take Vitamin B12 supplements due to dietary restrictions.

Vitamin B6

Essential for the production of neurotransmitters.
Adequate Vitamin B6 is vital for brain communication.

Vitamin B12

Contains a metal ion, cobalt, in its structure.
The cobalt in Vitamin B12 gives it a unique molecular structure.

Vitamin B6

May help in addressing certain skin conditions.
The cream contains Vitamin B6 to soothe skin irritations.

Vitamin B12

Vital for DNA synthesis and red blood cell formation.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia.

Vitamin B6

Plays a role in amino acid synthesis.
Vitamin B6 aids in protein metabolism.

Vitamin B12

Helps in converting food into energy.
For improved energy metabolism, ensure adequate Vitamin B12 intake.


Where is Vitamin B12 commonly found?

Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal products.

How are Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 different in function?

While both are involved in metabolism, B6 aids in neurotransmitter production and B12 is essential for nerve function and DNA synthesis.

Can vegetarians get enough Vitamin B12?

Vegetarians might need Vitamin B12 supplements or fortified foods to meet their requirements.

What does the cobalt in Vitamin B12 do?

Cobalt is central to Vitamin B12's molecular structure and function.

What is the primary function of Vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 plays a key role in metabolism and neurotransmitter production.

Why might someone need Vitamin B12 injections?

People with pernicious anemia or severe deficiency may require B12 injections.

Are there vegan sources of Vitamin B12?

Naturally, very few, but there are fortified vegan foods and supplements available.

Which vitamin is more commonly deficient in older adults, Vitamin B6 or Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is more commonly deficient among older adults due to absorption issues.

Is Vitamin B6 fat-soluble or water-soluble?

Vitamin B6 is water-soluble.

Can a Vitamin B6 deficiency lead to mood disorders?

Yes, as it plays a role in neurotransmitter production.

Is Vitamin B12 essential for vegans?

Yes, as it's primarily found in animal products, supplementation or fortified foods are recommended.

How does Vitamin B12 deficiency affect the body?

It can lead to fatigue, anemia, nerve damage, and other issues.

Does Vitamin B6 aid in sleep regulation?

Yes, it helps produce melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone.

What happens if I lack Vitamin B6?

Deficiency can lead to anemia, nerve damage, and skin disorders.

Can Vitamin B6 help with mood regulation?

Yes, as it aids in producing mood-regulating neurotransmitters.

Can I get Vitamin B6 from fruits?

Some fruits, like bananas, are a good source of Vitamin B6.

How can I ensure I get enough Vitamin B12 as a vegetarian?

Opt for fortified foods or take Vitamin B12 supplements.

How does Vitamin B12 support energy levels?

It aids in converting food into energy for the body.

What are the natural food sources of Vitamin B6?

Meats, whole grains, and some fruits and vegetables.

Are there any risks to consuming too much Vitamin B6?

Excessive intake can lead to nerve damage, especially in the arms and legs.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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