Niacin (nicotinic acid) is a B vitamin that’s used by your body to turn food into energy.
Niacin (also known as vitamin B3) is found in:
- Dairy products
- Enriched breads and cereals
- Lean meats
- Niacin and Cardiovascular Disease
- Digestion: As a member of B-complex vitamins, niacin aids in the normal functioning of the human digestive system, promoting a healthy appetite, properly functioning nerves, and a glowing skin.
- Pellagra: People with weak muscles, digestive problems, skin irritation or pellagra may have a severe vitamin B3 deficiency. These people need to administer an increased dosage of vitamin B3 supplements into their diet.
- Cholesterol: Intake of large quantities of niacin, which would be 1100 or more milligrams in a day, has been proven to considerably reduce the levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise the good HDL cholesterol, which prevents the thickening of artery walls and conditions like atherosclerosis.
- Water-soluble: Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin that can travel through the human blood stream and the body has the option to discharge excess vitamins through the process of urination. Therefore, such vitamins may be administered to human beings through both food and liquid, since our body does need a constant supply.
- Food Sources: Vitamin B3 may be found in meat, turkey, tuna fish, eggs, poultry products, curds, brewer’s yeasts, peanuts, legumes, potatoes, cheese, brown rice, oats, barley, wheat flakes and milk. Foods like bread and cereals are also rich in niacin. Even tryptophan-rich foods like yogurt and eggs can boost niacin levels.
- Daily Dosages: Ideally, women should have at least 15-18mg per day. It is extremely beneficial for women who are on various types of medication. Even those who occasionally use sleeping pills may develop a vitamin B3 deficiency. Men should consume 15-19 mg every day, whereas children should have a 9-13mg dosage of vitamin B3 each day.
- Sex: Niacin helps in creating sex hormones for people suffering through sexual disorders like impotence and erectile dysfunction.
- Energy: Vitamin B3 performs the important function of converting proteins, carbohydrates and fats into energy.
- Mental Health: Even mental derangement and associated conditions may be cured with the administration of niacin supplements or medicinal drugs.
- Diabetes: Niacin is known to treat diabetes and high blood sugar levels. Most diabetic patients are able to effectively control HBA1C levels with the help of niacin.
A deficiency of niacin causes pellagra. The symptoms include :
- Digestive problems
- Inflamed skin
- Mental impairment
Large doses of niacin can cause:
- Increased blood sugar (glucose) level)
- Liver damage
- Peptic ulcers
- Skin rashes
- Even normal doses can be associated with feeling warmth, redness, itching or tingling of the face, neck, arms or upper chest. This is called “flushing” and it usually improves after taking niacin on a regular basis for awhile. To prevent flushing, do not drink hot beverages or alcohol at the same time you take niacin. New forms of nicotinic acid reduce this side effect. Nicotinamide does not cause these side effects.
- If you take any medicines or supplements regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using niacin supplements. They could interact with medicines like diabetes drugs, blood thinners, anticonvulsants, blood pressure medicines, thyroid hormones, and antibiotics as well as supplements like ginkgo biloba and some antioxidants. Alcohol might increase the risk of liver problems. Though niacin is often used along with statins for high cholesterol, this combination may increase the risk for side effects. Get advice from your health care provider.
- 0 – 6 months: 2* milligrams per day (mg/day)
- 7 – 12 months: 4* mg/day
- *Adequate Intake (AI)
- 1 – 3 years: 6 mg/day
- 4 – 8 years: 8 mg/day
- 9 – 13 years: 12 mg/day
Adolescents and Adults
- Males age 14 and older: 16 mg/day
- Females age 14 and older: 14 mg/day