Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B3 also called Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin,  member of the family of B-vitamins. Essential for a healthy nervous system and for the production of sex hormones, niacin exists in two forms (nicotinic acid and nicotinamide) and is present naturally in a wide variety of foods; Niacin (in the form of nicotinamide) can also be made in the body from an amino acid called tryptophan.

Like vitamin B1 and B2, niacin is essential for the release of energy from foods and the use of oxygen in cells. It helps to maintain a healthy skin, nerves, digestive system and brain function. Niacin also helps to balance blood sugar and cholesterol levels, increases blood circulation while reducing blood pressure, and is thought to protect against some forms of heart disease.

Food sources:

Many foods contain vitamin B3 and fortified breakfast cereals are a good source for children. The more a food is processed, the more niacin content is depleted. Main food sources of niacin are:

– lean meat

– whole grains

– brewer’s yeast

– cheese

– fish

– eggs

– wholemeal bread

According to NHS England, adults men (18 to 64 years old) needs 16.5mg of niacin per day and the amount needed for adult women is 13.2 mg. You should be able to get all the vitamin B3 you need from your daily diet by eating a varied and balanced diet.

Deficiency symptoms

– Pellagra

– Poor memory

– Anxiety or depression

– Headaches

– Fatigue

– Eczema

– Diarrhea.

Remedies

– Mind and emotions: studies have shown that people with a low level of niacin are more prone to suffer from depression and poor self-esteem. Niacin therapy has been used in cases of acute schizophrenia.

– Healthy heart: high doses of niacin taken under medical supervision have been shown to reduce blood pressure and increases circulation, it is valuable in maintaining a healthy heart.

– Digestive problems: Niacin helps to keep the digestive system healthy and can help ease episodes of diarrhea.

– Arthritis: Supplements of vitamin B3 have been shown to increase mobility and reduce inflammation.

– Alcoholism: Niacin supplements can help to reduce alcohol craving and normalize sleeping patterns.

Supplements

Niacin is available in vitamins and multivitamins tablets; multivitamin tablets usually contain 18 mg of vitamin B3 which is sufficient for an average person to avoid deficiency. Some individuals may need a slightly higher amount, especially those who exercise a lot, taking contraceptive pills or are under stress. Niacin can be best taken as part of a B-complex supplement.

Precautions

High doses of niacin may cause liver malfunction, skin flushing and headaches. Do not take more than prescribed by your doctor, pharmacist or physician. Pregnant women, people with diabetes and those suffering from liver disorders, stomach ulcers or gout should not take high doses of vitamin B3 supplements.

Health benefits

1. Regulate blood cholesterol

Niacin may help to improve your blood cholesterol levels by:

● increasing your HDL (good cholesterol) levels

● reducing your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels

● reducing your triglyceride levels.

2. Manages blood pressure

Niacin is to release prostaglandins, or chemicals that help widen the blood vessels— improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure. For this reason, niacin may play a role in the prevention or treatment of high blood pressure

3. May help treat type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which your body attacks and destroys insulin-creating cells in your pancreas.

Some research have suggested that niacin could help protect those cells and possibly even lower the risk of type 1 diabetes in children who have a higher chance of developing this condition.

References

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b/

https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/7/3/556/4616695

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Niacin-HealthProfessional/

https://www.webmd.com/diet/supplement-guide-niacin

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/niacin-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/348377809_Evaluation_of_Dietary_Niacin_and_New-Onset_Hypertension_Among_Chinese_Adults

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6481694/

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Disclaimer: This blog provides information that should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers (doctor, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in and questions about what may be best for your overall health.

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