Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

A water soluble vitamin (meaning it cannot be stored for later use), vitamin B3 (niacin) has two additional forms: niacinamide (nicotinamide) and inositol hexanicotinate. Each of these forms serves a different purpose in treating various conditions.

Vitamin B3 (niacin) benefits

While assisting in keeping the digestive system, skin, hair, eyes, and liver all healthy and functioning properly, vitamin B3 (niacin) has been used to lower high LDL cholesterol levels (the bad kind) as well as lower triglyceride (fat) levels in the blood. An aid in sexual health occurs from hormone production in the adrenal glands as well as other areas of the body.

A variety of studies are underway to determine the effects vitamin B3 (niacin) may have on the treatment of heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer's, and cataracts.

Sources of vitamin B3 (niacin)

Food sources for vitamin B3 (niacin) include a range of options such as beets, beef liver and kidney (not recommended due to high levels of toxicity), various types of fish (salmon, swordfish, tuna), sunflower seeds, and peanuts. Bread and flour products are also good sources but only if they have gone through the enrichment process.

Recommended amounts

Set forth by the National Academy of Sciences, the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for vitamin B3 (niacin) are below (some individuals may be placed on a plan that requires higher than normal amounts to manage a specific issue they may be experiencing).

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for vitamin B3 (niacin)1
Age Amount
0-6 months 2mg/day (adequate intake)
7-12 months 4mg/day (adequate intake)
1-3 years 6mg/day
4-8 years 8mg/day
9-13 years 12mg/day
Males 14+ years 16mg/day
Females 14+ years 14mg/day
Pregnant females 18mg/day
Nursing females 17mg/day

High doses of vitamin (B3) niacin can lead to several negative side effects. It should only be taken in high doses when instructed by a doctor or other health care professional. Effects may include "niacin flush", a condition where the face and chest experience a burning or tingling sensation often accompanied by red or flushed skin. Prolonged treatment for high LDL levels may lead to liver and stomach damage (in the form of ulcers).

Vitamin B3 (niacin) deficiency

Those in developed nations are generally not deficient in vitamin B3 (niacin) unless they suffer from alcoholism. A deficiency in vitamin B3 (niacin) is often seen first in the form of indigestion, fatigue, canker sores, vomiting, or depression. If one suffers from a substantial deficiency in vitamin B3 (niacin), they may experience a condition known as pellegra. This condition has the following symptoms: cracked/scaly skin, dementia, and diarrhea. Additional conditions may include a burning in the mouth with an enlarged, bright red tongue.

Sources:
1Vitamin B3 (Niacin) - http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/vitamin-b3-000335.htm

Niacin - http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002409.htm

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