Vitamin B3, also called niacin, is one of the eight B-complex water-soluble vitamins. Niacin is a part of the vitamin B complex, along with other B vitamins including Vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and more.
Vitamin B3, which is usually medically referred to as niacin, comes in 3 forms: nicotinic acid, Niacinamide and Inositol Hexaniacinate. Vitamin B3 niacin has been studied extensively and shows positive results treating a wide range of many commonly occurring health problems.
Niacin is an important vitamin for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system and metabolism- especially balancing blood cholesterol levels. In addition niacin helps with brain function, healthy skin formation and maintenance and even preventing or treating diabetes.
However, according to recent studies, there are certain known niacin side effects that can occur when taking niacin-containing medications or supplements in high doses. The common niacin side effects are headaches, dizziness, low blood pressure and more. Continue reading for a complete list of possible side effects, benefits, sources and signs of deficiency.
Health Benefits of Vitamin B3 or Niacin —
However, those benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. Vitamin B3 has numerous other health benefits, which mankind has slowly discovered over the course of many years.
- 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.
- 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.
- Improves Skin Function — Niacin helps protect skin cells from sun damage, whether it’s used orally or applied to the skin in lotions
Niacin Deficiency —
A deficiency in dietary niacin is uncommon in developed countries where malnutrition is not commonly seen. Clinical symptoms of a vitamin B3 niacin deficiency are usually categorized as the “3 D’s”: dermatitis (skin rashes), diarrhea, or dementia.
Diagnosis is usually clinical, and dietary supplementation with high doses of niacin is usually successful is resolving symptoms.
When a vitamin B3 niacin deficiency is seen, the following are signs and symptoms:
- Pellagra — characterized by skin inflammation, hallucinations, digestive distress. Usually occurs in malnourished people or those with alcoholism and can include rash, stomatitis, diarrhea, and mental problems
- Mucous membrane swelling — symptoms which affect the mouth, vagina and urethra tongue can cause pain in the mouth, increased salivation, and edema of the tongue, and ulcers
- Skin symptoms include several types of lesions
- Gastrointestinal (digestive) disturbances — symptoms include burning in the pharynx and esophagus, stomach and abdominal discomfort, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Brain impairment and psychosis — impaired consciousness, cognitive decline (dementia), disorientation, confusion, depression, mania, or paranoia.
Vitamin B3/Niacin Dosage —
- Children: between 2-16 milligrams daily, depending on age
- Men: 16 milligrams daily
- Women: 14 milligrams daily
- Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding 17- 18 milligrams daily
Keep in mind that the ideal dosage of niacin depends on how you’re using it, your age, weight, gender, and specific needs.
Sources of Vitamin B3/Niacin –
- Chicken Breast
- Sunflower seeds
- Whole wheat bread
B-vitamins are important for every part of your body. Luckily, you can get all the niacin you need through your diet. However, supplemental forms are sometimes recommended to treat certain medical conditions, including high cholesterol.
I’m Dr. Malini Bhat MD (Ayu); an Ayurvedic Doctor and a health blogger. Follow me on social media to get daily health tips which you can easily adapt to a healthy lifestyle.