Common Name: Vitamin B3
Vitamin B3 is also called niacin. Like all the B-complex vitamins, it is important for converting calories from protein, fat and carbohydrates into energy. But it also helps the digestive system function and promotes a normal appetite and healthy skin and nerves.
Vitamin B3 is required for cell respiration, helps in the release of energy and metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, proper circulation and healthy skin, functioning of the nervous system, and normal secretion of bile and stomach fluids. It is used in the synthesis of sex hormones, treating schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, and a memory-enhancer.
Nicotinic acid (but not nicotinamide) given in drug dosage improves the blood cholesterol profile, and has been used to clear the body of organic poisons, such as certain insecticides. People report more mental alertness when this vitamin is in sufficient supply.
Deficiency of vitamin B3:
A deficiency may cause pellagra, the classic niacin deficiency disease, and is characterized by bilateral dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia.
A shortage of niacin may be indicated with symptoms such as canker sores, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue, halitosis, headaches, indigestion, insomnia, limb pains, loss of appetite, low blood sugar, muscular weakness, skin eruptions, and inflammation.
The dosage underneath is the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), but be aware that this dosage is the minimum that you require per day, to ward off serious deficiency of this particular nutrient. In the therapeutic use of this nutrient, the dosage is usually increased considerably, but the toxicity level must be kept in mind.
DRI (RDA or AI for Adults):
15-18 years old: 20 mg
19-24 years old: 19-20 mg
25-50 years old: 18-19 mg
more than 50 years old: 15-16 mg
15-18 years old: 14-15mg
19-24 years old: 14-15 mg
25-50 years old: 13-15 mg
more than 50 years old: 12-13 mg
4-6 years old: 12 mg
7-10 years old: 13-16 mg
Male 18 mg per day and female 13 mg per day although 100 mg is mostly used in supplementation.
Large doses given to lower cholesterol may produce hyperuricemia, and hepatic abnormalities. These effects are reversed if the drug is reduced in amount or discontinued.
Toxicity and symptoms of high intake
Nicotinic acid, but not nicotinamide in doses larger than 200 mg causes flushing by dilating the blood vessels, which can also cause the blood pressure to drop.
These flushes are normally harmless. Large dosages can also cause itching, elevated blood glucose, peptic ulcers and liver damage
Best used with
Niacin is best taken with the B group vitamins and vitamin c.
When more may be required
Consuming alcohol and not having enough protein in your diet may increase your need for niacin.
People with diabetes, glaucoma, any liver disease or peptic ulcers should be careful of niacin supplementation.
Enemy of vitamin B3
Niacin is lost readily when food is cooked in water.
Other interesting points
Nicotinamide is under investigation for helping to prevent and control diabetes.
Food sources of vitamin B3
Liver, lean meat, poultry, fish, rabbit, nuts, peanut yeast, meats including liver, cereals, legumes, asparagus, seeds, milk, green leafy vegetables, and fish.
Your daily cup of coffee also provides about 3 milligrams of niacin.