Niacin or vitamin B3 is a water soluble nutrient and offers numerous health benefits similar to the other 8 B vitamins. It not only helps with conversion of proteins, carbohydrates and fats to energy but also helps with the creation of female and male sex hormones. The safe upper limit is 100 mg daily. Niacin works best in combination with vitamins C, B1 and B2 and is normally taken as a multivitamin B-complex supplement. The daily recommendation of vitamin B3 depends on the age and gender. Male adults over 19 require 12mg / day and females over 18 years require 14 mg daily.
Health Benefts of Vitamin B3
There are three forms of vitamin B3 – niacin or nicotinic acid, niacinamide and inositol hexanicotinate. The health benefits of vitamin B3 is varied for each form. A healthy diet is sufficient to provide daily requirements of vitamin B3 and people usually do not suffer from a deficiency. Those who are at risk can use vitamin B3 supplements.
Benefits for cholesterol : Vitamin B3 can help lower high levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and fat (triglyceride) levels. However, those on cholesterol medications must be careful about interactions and high doses of niacin (required for lowering cholesterol levels) can produce side effects like stomach upsets, liver damage, dizziness and headaches.
Benefits for heart ailments : Due to its benefits for lowering bad cholesterol levels, and increasing good cholesterol levels, vitamin B3 also helps to lower risks of heart disease and thickening of walls of arteries. Certain studies have found that men who already have a heart disease can slow atherosclerosis progression by taking vitamin B3 (niacin) in combination with colestipol. Health benefits of vitamin B3 has also been studied in men and it has been found that taking niacin regularly can reduce the chances of a second heart attack.
Benefits for diabetes : Vitamin B3 as niacinamide can help those with type 1 diabetes by postponing the time when they need to start insulin. Researchers are also studying the effects of niacinamide in reducing the risk of children contracting type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system forces the pancreatic cells to manufacture insulin even when not needed, ultimately destroying them. Niacinmamide can protect these cells from destruction. Most patients with diabetes are provided effective treatment with niacin that can control HBA1C levels.
Benefits for osteoarthritis : Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) can improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis, improve mobility of joints and reduce the need to take anti-inflammatory drugs. Those who take vitamin B3 supplements regularly may be able to reduce their intake of other pain killers.
Benefits for fat metabolism : The health benefits of vitamin B3 are vital for the chemical processing of body fats. Fat-based hormones and cell membranes that help in building fatty acids require vitamin B3 for their synthesis.
Benefits for genetic processes : Vitamin B3 supports genetic processes and deficiency can lead to DNA damage. Vitamin B3 is essential for the manufacture of DNA. This relationship between DNA and vitamin B3 must be protected for damage can lead to greater risk of developing cancer.
Benefits in prevention of Pellagra : Pellagra is a condition caused by vitamin B3 deficiency. It can result in delusions, mental confusion, scaly lesions of the skin, diarrhea, and inflammatory conditions of the mucous membrane. Pellagra could also be caused by deficiency of tryptophan, for the body can replenish its stores of niacin by converting trytophan to niacin. Therefore a deficiency in one results in a deficiency in the other
Other benefits of vitamin B3
- Energy production – conversion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats to energy – requires the presence of vitamin B3 and other B vitamins
- As part of the B-complex family, niacin helps in good performance of the digestive system and gives us a health appetite
- It is good for giving us glowing skin and good nerves
- Those who have sex problems can take niacin that seems to help with sex related hormones in males and females
- Niacin supplements along with other drugs can help cure symptoms of mental derangement
- Niacinamide has excellent anti-inflammatory properties
- Niacin and Inositol hexaniacinate affect levels of blood circulation
- High doses of vitamin B3 (niacin) through food and supplements seem to reduce the risk of contracting Alzheimer’s disease. However, niacin does not prevent onset of this diseases
- Prevents diarrhea caused by cholera
- Prevents and helps to treat cataracts
- Niacin can treat those with dizziness and migraine headaches
- Niacinamide is used to treat granuloma annulare and bullous pemphigoid – two skin ailments
- Acne, leprosy, depression, alcohol dependence, edema, depression, chronic brain syndrome, age-related memory loss, ADHD, arthritis, PMS headaches can all benefit with vitamin B3 supplements and food.
Foods rich in Vitamin B3
Health benefits of vitamin B3 are best got from brewer’s yeast, beets, beef liver and kidney, swordfish, tuna, salmon, peanuts and sunflower seeds. Poultry, eggs, dairy products and red meat all contain trytophan – the amino acid that the body converts to vitamin B3. Other food sources include crimini mushrooms, asparagus, halibut, shiitake mushrooms, venison, turkey, venison, , barley, wheat, potatoes, brown rice and legumes.
It is important to take vitamin B3 only under medical supervision for high doses can cause serious side effects like flushing of skin, widening of blood vessels dizziness etc. People who suffer from kidney ailments, stomach ulcers, gout and liver diseases must not take vitamin B3 supplements. All forms of vitamin B3 can worsen allergy symptoms. They must not be taken for 2 weeks before any surgery. Those who suffer from low blood pressure must not take vitamin B3 for it can result in a further pressure drop.
We have seen the various health benefits of vitamin B3 in lowering bad cholesterol levels, prevention of heart diseases like atherosclerosis, energy production and much more. Those on poor diets, alcoholics and some people with carcinoid tumors must be especially careful for they could be at risk of vitamin B3 deficiency. It is important to maintain the right balance of vitamin B3 to prevent imbalance of other B vitamins.