Vitamin B3 Niacin

Vitamin B3

General information on vitamin B3 niacin, including food and herb sources.....

Vitamin B3 niacin is another member of the B–complex vitamin family and is well renowned for its ability to lower blood cholesterol levels as effectively as many pharmaceutical products.

Vitamin B3 is also associated with a disease called pellagra, which is caused by a severe niacin deficiency. Pellagra is characterized by the "3-Ds" - dermatitis, dementia, and diarrhea. The skin becomes dark, rough, and flakes away, which is a type of dermatitis. The brain does not properly function, leading to confusion and dementia. In addition, diarrhea results from the impaired manufacture of the mucous lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

There are two preformed forms of niacin called nicotinic acid and nicotinamide. Nicotinic acid and nicotinamide are found in many high-protein foods. In addition, with the help of other B vitamins, the body converts tryptophan (an amino acid) into niacin. However, if you are deficient in vitamin B1, B2, and B6 the body will not be able to produce niacin from tryptophan.

Vitamin B3 Niacin Best Foods and Herbs Sources

  • Foods: Beef liver and other organ meats, broccoli, carrots, cheese, corn flour, dates, eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, pork, potatoes, tomatoes, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, white meat of poultry, avocados, and whole wheat products.

  • Herbs: Alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, hops, licorice, mullein, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaves, red clover, rose hips, slippery elm, and yellow dock.

    Health Facts about Vitamin B3 Niacin

    So, why is niacin needed?

  • Promotes healthy skin and nerve function.
  • Works with its cousin's thiamin and riboflavin -- other B vitamins to produce energy within cells.
  • Essential for a healthy digestive system.
  • Aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates (to produce energy), fats, and proteins.
  • Aids in the production of hydrochloric acid, needed for proper digestion.
  • Involved in the synthesis of sex hormones.
  • Involved in the normal secretion of bile and stomach fluids.
  • Needed for normal functioning of the brain.

    Specifically, vitamin B3 niacin may help to:

  • Lower elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Fight depression, fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia.
  • Slow the progression of type 1 diabetes if given at the first signs of the disease. More specifically, high doses of niacinamide appear to help prevent complications of insulin-dependent diabetes and may even help reverse its development if given at the first signs of the disease. However, this should only be done under careful medical supervision.
  • May be helpful for conditions that contribute to type 2 diabetes like high cholesterol and heart disease that exacerbates type 2 diabetes.
  • Niacinamide may ease the symptoms of arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • May help combat Raynaud's phenomenon and intermittent claudication. Raynaud's phenomenon is a painful response of the hands or feet to cold exposure, due to constriction of blood vessels supplying the hands. Intermittent claudication is a painful cramp in the calf produced by walking - a result of decreased oxygen supply to the calf muscle.

    Other uses of niacin include: ease the severity of migraine headaches, reduce high blood pressure, help eliminate canker sores, and help disorders of the digestive system.

    Vitamin B3 Niacin Deficiency Signs

    Signs and symptoms of a deficiency in niacin may include canker sores, dementia, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue, halitosis, headaches, indigestion, insomnia, loss of appetite, low blood sugar, muscular weakness, skin eruptions, irritability, anxiety, loss of memory, confusion, hallucinations, and darkened itchy skin with excessive flaking.

    Vitamin B3 Niacin Side Effects

    Megadoses of vitamin B3 niacin supplements can cause serious side effects, such as abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting; lightheadedness; ulcers; and skin rashes, flushing or itching. In addition, liver damage and a rise in blood sugar (glucose) that mimics diabetes are signs of an overdose.

    Vitamin B3 Niacin Precautions

    The consumption of high dose vitamin B3 supplements should be used with great caution if you suffer from diabetes, glaucoma, gout, liver disease, or peptic ulcers because niacin can also worsen or perhaps even trigger these conditions. In fact, you should check with your physician if you suffer from these conditions before taking any vitamin B3 niacin supplements.

    In addition, anyone taking high doses of nicotinic acid should undergo liver enzyme tests quarterly to monitor for possible liver damage.

    If you suffer from a health condition or are on any prescription medications, consult a physician before taking any dietary supplements.

    Supplemental cautions also apply to women who are pregnant or nursing. It is important that you consult with your physician before taking vitamin B3 supplements.

    About Vitamin B3 Niacin Supplements

    Tips on buying Vitamin B3 Niacin Supplements

    1. Niacin is available in a capsule or tablet in both regular and timed-release forms. Niacin supplements may cause a person to flush. This face flush, which is also known as the "niacin flush" is said to be harmless. It is characterized by tingling, reddening, and possible itchiness.

    Generally speaking, these symptoms last only a few minutes. To overcome the intensity of this niacin flush, doctors recommend the following:

  • Start out at lower doses and gradually increase over time.
  • Take with food and avoid consuming it with warm beverages.

    This face flush is caused by niacin forms. Niacin supplements are available in nicotinic acid (also called nicotinate) and niacinamide forms, each with a specific therapeutic role. In the form of niacinamide, it does not cause flushing, but niacinamide does not have all the same properties as nicotinic acid.

    A newer form called inositol hexaniacinate is now available, in which the nicotinic acid is bound to inositol, another member of the B-complex group. However, if you're contemplating using niacin for therapeutic reasons (therapeutic dosages), consult a physician for supervision.

    2. Niacin interacts with other B vitamins and it may also enhance the utilization of zinc and iron. It's important to note that the B vitamins work together as a team. Therefore, a deficiency in one often indicates a deficiency in another.

    In addition, taking any one of the B complex vitamins for a long period of time can result in an imbalance of other important B vitamins. For this reason, it is often recommended that vitamin B3 niacin be taken as part of a B-complex supplement or multivitamin.

    However, we believe that it's best to take the B-complex family as part of a comprehensive scientifically balanced formula such as a comprehensive multivitamin and mineral supplement since most nutrition oriented physicians recommend, at the very least, a high-quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement daily.

    Moreover, it's better biochemically to have the B complex vitamins as part of a multivitamin and mineral supplement. The RDA for niacin is 14 mg for women and 16 mg for men.

    Exception: If your physician has recommended higher doses of vitamin B3 niacin for therapeutic purposes.

    3. Because vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients work in balance and synergistically with one another, it is important that consumers select a comprehensive supplement that is scientifically formulated by a top notch scientist or formulator.

    4. Take time to read the product data sheet. Does the product contain artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, yeast, gluten, sucrose or dextrose?

    5. Dietary supplements are not strictly regulated in the U.S. and, as such, manufacturers do not have to guarantee the safety, effectiveness, or even the true content of their products. In fact, the latest statistic is that 1 in 5 products will not have the ingredients proclaimed on the label or it harbors very harmful contaminates.

    Therefore, we recommend that you select a supplement from only from pharmaceutical GMP compliant manufacturers, which adhere to the most stringent manufacturing standards.

    Featured Comprehensive Formula

    After years of taking and researching supplements, we here at Nutritional-Supplement-Educational-Centre personally take an all-in-one highly sophisticated comprehensive multi-nutrient product called Total Balance from a New Zealand company called Xtend-Life Natural Products. It contains a full spectrum of over 70 nutrients, including vitamin B3 niacin that the body needs for optimium 'whole' body health.

    Total Balance is formulated by a highly credentialed scientific team that can blend these ingredients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, specialty nutrients, enzymes, potent antioxidants, herbal extracts, and others) perfectly to ensure maximum benefits, but as importantly that they also do not interact adversely. Plus, Total Balance is enteric coated to protect all of these ingredients against stomach acids and to ensure maximum bio-availability.

    In addition, the company meets all the above requirements -- and more for high quality products.

    We here at Nutritional-Supplement-Educational-Centre have been taking Total Balance for several years now and can personally attest to its excellent results such as an increase in energy levels, mental clarity, and an increase feeling of well-being.

    We hope this webpage discussing Vitamin B3 was useful to you.

    Always check with a physician before taking any dietary supplements.


    Much more than Vitamin B3 Niacin can be found at our Vitamin Information Center

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