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Pyroluria: Could low B6 and Zinc be the Cause of your Mental Health Struggle?

An imbalance in nutritional biochemistry is associated with many nervous system conditions. As a nutritionist, my preference is always to utilize fresh wholefoods to obtain balance in the body, however, there are some conditions where the body needs extra support. Pyroluria is one of these conditions.

Pyroluria is often left un-diagnosed, and should be considered in the diagnosis of many mental health conditions, given its relationship with vitamin B6 and zinc: two key nutrients for a healthy nervous system.

What is Pyroluria?

Pyroluria, also known as Mauve Factor and Kryptopyrrole, is a condition whereby the body produces a high amount of pyrroles. Pyrroles are a by-product of haemoglobin synthesis. Their function in the body is not well understood, however, it is their effect on vitamin B6 and zinc levels that is important. Pyrroles bind to vitamin B6 and zinc, and together they are excreted from the body in urine.

The importance of vitamin B6 and zinc

Deficiencies of vitamin B6 and zinc are associated with a wide range of emotional and neurological imbalances. They are required for synthesis of many neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine and GABA, are involved in many enzymatic reactions in the body, and, have also been associated with a number of physiological disorders, including poor immune function, poor growth, and delayed sexual development.

Symptoms linked to deficiencies in vitamin B6 and zinc are closely linked to the nervous system and correlate closely to those seen in cases of elevated pyrroles, as set out below.

Relevance to mental health conditions

Elevated levels of pyrroles in urine have been associated with the conditions set out below. It is worth noting that remission of these conditions has been linked to a reduction in urinary pyrroles within a month of appropriate treatment.

Nervous System Conditions & Symptoms



Bipolar Disorder





Low tolerance for stress

Antisocial behaviour

Behavioural problems

Oppositional Defiance Disorder

Emotional instability


Down Syndrome


Mood swings

Explosive temper


Extreme irritability


Short term memory problems

Other Symptoms and Conditions

Impotence (males)

Pale complexion


Retracted gums

Frequent joint pain

Poor appetite

White spots on fingernails

Vitamin B6 responsive anemia


Low tooth enamel

Low protein tolerance

Abdominal pain


Irregular periods

Cold hands and feet


Delayed puberty

Sensitivity to light/sound/smell

Cause of Pyroluria & testing for diagnosis

Pyroluria is a genetically acquired chemical imbalance. Factors such as stress, heavy metal burden and faulty fatty acid metabolism can also play a role. Testing for Pyroluria involves the analysis of a urine sample for levels of hydroxyhemopyrrolin-2-one (HPL), a neurotoxic substance. If you are considering whether this test is appropriate for you, contact me at NatMed to discuss further on 9339 1999 or at


This condition can be highly responsive to treatment. By following an appropriate supplement protocol, symptom improvement can be achieved within a few days. Pyrrole levels in urine can decrease significantly after one month of treatment. However, discontinuation of treatment may result in deterioration in symptoms in as little as a week.

The key nutrients to consider for treatment include zinc and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine-5-phosphate). In addition to B6 and zinc, other nutrients that can be beneficial in treatment of the condition include manganese, magnesium, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin c, biotin, omega 6 essential fatty acids and vitamin E. A supplement regime should be prescribed by a qualified health care practitioner and tailored to each individual’s needs with appropriate dosages.

Some food sources for zinc and vitamin B6 are set out below, however in the case of pyroluria a supplement protocol is required for significant improvement to occur in psychological symptoms.

Zinc: Beef, egg yolk, capsicum, ginger, herring, liver, lamb, oysters, sunflower seeds,

pumpkin seeds, seafood, tofu, mushrooms

B6: Avocado, banana, carrot, chicken, egg yolk, legumes, lentils, mackerel, oatmeal, peanuts, salmon, tuna, sunflower seeds, walnuts, eggplant, pistachio nuts, cod

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