|Vitamin :: Niacin|
|Other Terms:||Niacin | Niacinamide | Nicotinamide | Nicotinic Acid|
|Solubility:||Water soluble, which means any excess is removed in urine. As it is not stored in the body in significant amounts, unlike for fat soluble vitamins, it must be taken into the body regularly.|
|On this Page:||What is Niacin · Benefits · Deficiency Signs · Foods · Supplements · RDA · Toxicity | Overdose|
Niacin, or vitamin B3, is one of the B-Complex vitamins. The word “niacin” is a blanket term covering different forms of the vitamin including nicotinic acid and nicotinamide (sometimes called niacinamide).
The amino acid tryptophan is also converted to niacin in the body. Niacin is one of the more stable water soluble vitamins and is not much affected by heat or light.
Niacin, like the other B vitamins, plays an important role in maintaining the muscle tone of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as healthy nerves, skin, and mouth. It is also essential for energy production and other metabolic processes in the body.
Niacin benefits our health in many ways that include the following.
|::||Vitamin B3 Benefits & Functions|
|1.||one of the B complex vitamins that are needed for the body to convert food to energy|
|2.||needed for digestion, absorption, and metabolism of foods (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) and synthesis of fatty acids and amino acids|
|3.||required for production of hydrochloric acid for the digestive system|
|4.||needed for production of DNA (genetic material) in cells, and to prevent DNA damage, and possibly cancer|
|5.||promotes functioning of the nervous system|
|6.||promotes healthy looking skin|
|7.||may be used to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD) according to some studies|
|8.||niacinamide stabilizes blood sugar and may prevent diabetes or delay the need for insulin, under medical advice|
|9.||high dosage supplements under medical supervision have been used to lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides, and raise levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol, with better results than prescription drugs like “statins”|
|10.||helps to slow progression of atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of arteries) and reduce the risk of heart disease when used with other cholesterol-lowering drugs, diet and exercise|
|11.||preliminary studies suggest that niacinamide may be helpful in treating osteoarthritis|
|12.||recent research indicates that regular intake of niacin may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and loss of brain function due to aging|
Niacin Deficiency Symptoms and Causes
Most people with low niacin levels have trouble absorbing it from the food they take. This can be due to problems of the gastrointestinal system, such as inflammatory or irritable bowel disease, or chronic diarrhea.
Other factors that can lead to lower levels of niacin in the body are use of oral contraceptives, excessive alcohol intake, chronic fever, and stress.
Some of the niacin in the body comes from conversion of tryptophan. A deficiency of tryptophan (due to a low-protein diet), or of vitamin B1 or B6 which are needed in the conversion process, might lead to lower levels of niacin, and niacin deficiency symptoms.
|::||Vitamin B3 Deficiency Symptoms|
|1.||the most common symptoms of deficiency are skin disorders where the skin becomes dry, cracked, scaly, and even darkly pigmented, especially in areas exposed to the sun such as the forehead, neck and backs of hands|
|2.||classic symptom is pellagra, characterized by dermatitis (inflammation of skin with scaling, flaking, color changes), diarrhea, dementia or delirium, possibly swelling of the mouth and tongue, and eventually death if not remedied|
|3.||feeling of lassitude or weariness|
|5.||loss of appetite|
|6.||indigestion or gastrointestinal disturbances|
|7.||deficiency affects the nervous system, possibly leading to irritability, anxiety, mental depression, tremors, confusion and disorientation|
|8.||severe deficiency can cause hallucinations or dementia|
Foods high in niacin (vitamin B3) include · mushrooms · raw rice bran · tuna.
Other foods containing niacin
· beef liver · brewer’s yeast · chicken breast · corn flour · dairy products like cheese and milk · eggs · halibut · peanuts · lean pork · salmon · shrimp and scallops · sea vegetables · vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, carrots, collard greens, green peas, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, tomatoes · turkey · venison · whole wheat.
Taking vitamins and minerals in their correct balance is vital to the proper functioning of all vitamins. They work synergistically, which means that the effectiveness of any one nutrient requires or is enhanced, sometimes dramatically, by the presence of certain other nutrients.
For this reason, if you are looking to take supplements for maintenance of optimal health, the recommended approach is to take a multi-vitamin that has the proper balance of all the necessary nutrients your body needs.
For a list of reputable top ranked vitamin and mineral supplements chosen in an independent supplement review, see Best Multivitamin Supplements. Many of these are manufactured to pharmaceutical or nutraceutical GMP compliance, which is the highest multivitamin standard possible.
Keep in mind, however, that while vitamin supplements are useful to plug nutritional gaps that are almost inevitable in modern diets, and to ensure we get optimal doses ofnutrients, they are no substitute for a good diet. Instead, use them to complement a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Niacin RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance)
The Food & Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, in their 1997-2001 collaboration between the US and Canada, set the daily Adequate Intake (AI) of Vitamin B3 as follows.
|Life Stage | Gender||Vitamin B3 Dosage | Day|
|Infants 0-6 mths||2* mg|
|Infants 7-12 mths||4* mg|
|Children 1-3 yrs||6 mg|
|Children 4-8 yrs||8 mg|
|Girls 9-13 Yrs||12 mg|
|Boys 9-13 Yrs||12 mg|
|Females 14-18 Yrs||14 mg|
|Males 14-18 Yrs||16 mg|
|Females 19-50 Yrs||14 mg|
|Males 19-50 Yrs||16 mg|
|Females older than 50 Yrs||14 mg|
|Males older than 50 Yrs||16 mg|
|Pregnant Women 14-18 Yrs||18 mg|
|Pregnant Women 19-50 Yrs||18 mg|
|Lactating Mothers 14-18 Yrs||17 mg|
|Lactating Mothers 19-50 Yrs||17 mg|
These dosages are the minimum required per day to ward off deficiency. In therapeutic use of this nutrient, dosage is increased as necessary for the ailment, keeping in mind Vitamin B3 toxicity levels.
1 µg = 1 mcg = 1 microgram = 1/1,000,000 of a gram
1 mg = 1 milligram = 1/1,000 of a gram
* Indicates AI figures based on Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) figures
Niacin Overdose Symptoms, Toxicity Level & Side Effects
People with peptic ulcers, glaucoma, asthma, gout, diabetes, gallbladder or liver disease, as well as those on high blood pressure medication, and women who are pregnant, should use high dosages with caution.
Niacin side effects from overdosing include peptic ulcers, skin rashes, dry skin, itching, tingling and burning sensations, and headaches. Sometimes even normal doses can cause a tingling sensation, or some skin flushing or rash, which are usually harmless. Excessive doses can lead to liver toxicity and damage.
In 1998, the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine set the Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) for niacin (see table below). These are the highest average daily intake levels above which there is risk of niacin toxicity, especially if taken over a long time.
|Life Stage||Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) per Day|
|0 to 12 months||*ND|
|1 to 3 years||10 mg|
|4 to 8 years||15 mg|
|9 to 13 years||20 mg|
|14 to 18 years**||30 mg|
|19 years & above**||35 mg|
*ND : Not determinable. Intake should be from food/milk only.
**Includes pregnant and breastfeeding women.
The ULs do not apply to the therapeutic use of niacin for treatment, which should be under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
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|1.||Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary reference intakes for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, biotin, and choline. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1998.|
|2.||U.S. National Libary of Medicine [NLM] & National Institutes of Health [NIH]: MedlinePlus. NLM-NIH home page. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus>. Use the built-in search function to find specific data. Accessed 2009 March – June.|
|3.||The George Mateljan Foundation: The world’s healthiest foods [WHFoods]. WHFoods home page. <http://www.whfoods.com>. Accessed 2009 March – June.|
|4.||Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Mayo Clinic book of alternative medicine: The new approach to using the best of natural therapies and conventional medicine. New York, NY: Time Inc; 2007. p 67-75.|
|5.||Balch JF, Balch PA. Prescription for nutritional healing: A practical A-Z reference to drug-free remedies using vitamins, minerals, herbs & food supplements. Garden City Park, New York: Avery Publishing; 1990.|
|6.||Ulene A. Dr. Art Ulene’s complete guide to vitamins, minerals and herbs. New York, NY: Avery Publishing; 2000.|