Vitamin B3 niacin is also referred to as niacinamide and nicotinic acid. Niacin is actually derived from niacinamide and nicotinic acid and can be manufactured in the body from these two compounds.
The body can also make niacin from the amino acid tryptophan. Vitamin B3 is a water-soluble vitamin, not able to be stored by the body, needing to be regularly replenished through the diet to avoid depletion and deficiency symptoms.
Effects of Niacin
Vitamin B3 niacin is an essential co-enzyme in the release of energy from food. It is important for the production of sex hormones, cell respiration, nervous system function, circulation, secretion of bile and stomach fluids, and for healthy skin. Vitamin B3 is involved in over fifty reactions that turn sugar and fat into energy.
Vitamin B3 Niacin Benefits
Benefits of niacin in large doses lowers blood cholesterol levels, and has been widely used in the treatment and prevention of arteriosclerosis.
High doses of vitamin B3 have also been used to treat schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. It is thought that the benefits of niacin enhance memory and improves mental alertness. Niacin is also thought to help in controlling diabetes.
Vitamin B3 has been used to clean the body of organic pesticides. Very effective in controlling cholesterol levels, it has lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood by up to fifty percent for some people.
Benefits of vitamin B3 niacin can also be useful for cancer prevention, migraines, epilepsy and leg cramps. It may protect against Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.
What is Niacin Flush?
A side effect of niacin is that it dilates blood vessels causing a blushing of the skin and a sensation of warmth, called a niacin flush. It is this reaction to niacin of flushing niacin that indicates a temporary saturation in the body.
When experiencing such a niacin flush, you can see and feel that you’ve reached your limit with niacin. Taking just enough niacin to have a slight flush gives a pinkness about the cheeks and neck. Such a gentle side effect of niacin flush should end in about ten minutes or so. If you take too much, the flush can be stronger and will last longer. If your flushing niacin turns you beetroot red, this side effect of niacin means that you are taking far too much which can be dangerous.
Vitamin B3 Niacin Deficiency
Factors that may increase vitamin b3 niacin deficiency include alcohol consumption, caffeine, refined sugar, low protein intake, liver disease, glaucoma, diabetes, or peptic ulcers.
Niacin deficiency can lead to fatigue, muscular weakness, loss of appetite, low blood sugar, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, canker sores, skin inflammation and eruptions.
Long term vitamin B3 niacin deficiency typically leads to pellagra, the common term for vitamin B3 deficiency disease. Pellagra starts with sunburn-like eruptions on the skin where exposed to sunlight, later symptoms being swollen red tongue, diarrhea, mental confusion / dementia, irritability and depression.
Reactions to Niacnin and Vitamin B3 Dosage
Recommended daily allowance (minimum daily dose to ward off serious deficiency) of vitamin B3 niacin dosage for men is 1.7 mg, and women is 1.3 mg, although up to 500 mg is commonly used in vitamin supplements.
Reactions to niacin in large doses may cause facial heat, redness and flushing by dilating the blood vessels. Large doses of vitamin B3 long-term may cause liver damage, peptic ulcers, and raised blood glucose levels.
Vitamin B3 Niacin in Foods
Here are examples of where to find niacin in foods:
Animal niacin in foods : Organ meats such as liver, heart and kidney, brewer’s yeast, chicken, fish, lean meat, milk, eggs.
Plant niacin food sources : Wholegrain products, leafy green vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, dates, nuts and seeds, whole/enriched cereal, legumes, asparagus, avocados, even coffee! (3 mg per cup).