Is Vitamin B6 an Insect Repellent?

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Eating vitamin B6 will not keep insects away.
Eating vitamin B6 will not keep insects away. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Some insects become a nuisance to people, especially if they bite like mosquitoes do. Over time, people have developed various home remedies to keep nuisance insects away. Some home remedies include dryer sheets, mouthwash, dish-washing liquid and alcohol. Edible home remedies to keep insects away include bananas and vitamin B6.

The Myth

Some people believe that eating vitamin B6 keeps insects at bay. This myth is especially popular among travelers, according to the Telegraph. They eat vitamin B6 pills before attending an outdoor function or going to areas where they expect to encounter nuisance insects. This supposedly keeps them safe from insect bites without using chemicals that are potentially harmful. The vitamin B6 also benefits the health of the person using this remedy.

The Rationale

For biting insects, different individuals have various levels of attractiveness as sources of blood meals, according to the University of Florida. The attractiveness level of a person to biting insects depends on various factors, such as the insect species, the geographic location, the person's appearance and the chemicals the person releases. Some foods may alter the signals the biting insects receive from a person, making him less attractive as a source of blood meal.

Efficacy

The attractiveness level of a person to biting insects depends on how various complex factors interact. While foods may help repel insects, there is no scientific proof that supports vitamin B6 as an insect repellent. In fact, one study dispels the myth. The University of Wisconsin performed an experiment whereby volunteers take either vitamin B pills or placebos. The researchers then exposed these individuals to mosquitoes and found that the vitamin B had no effect on mosquito attraction.

What Works

Home remedies often don't work well as insect repellents. For best results, rely on products that have been scientifically proven to keep insects away. The University of Florida recommends using insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus as the active ingredient. Because these products contain chemicals, always follow the product label instructions closely and only apply the product to parts of the skin that are exposed. You may have to reapply the product to maintain its efficacy.

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