Vitamin B3 Benefits, Food Sources, Deficiency and Possible Side Effects

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Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is nutrient that plays an important part in our good health. It is one of the eight B-complex water-soluble vitamins. When our bodies have enough Vitamin B3, our body is able to function the way it’s supposed to. Our bodies get Niacin every day from eating Niacin-rich foods. This vitamin has been studied extensively and shows positive results treating a wide range of many commonly occurring health problems. Vitamin B3 or Niacin is primarily used to lower high cholesterol levels in the body. It is also used to treat respiratory or vascular disorders. Continue reading for a complete list of benefits, sources, signs of deficiency and possible side effects.

Health Benefits Of Vitamin B3 Or Niacin

1. Lowers LDL Cholesterol

Most of the cholesterol in a person’s bloodstream is a low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Lipoprotein (LDL) is the so-called “bad” cholesterol because if the person’s LDL cholesterol level is too high it can lead to heart disease and stroke. For over 50 years, doctors have been using Niacin as a treatment for high cholesterol. Niacin reduces the levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol by as much as 5–20%. Because of possible Niacin side effects, it is mostly used to lower cholesterol in people who can’t tolerate statins.

2. Improves Digestion

As a member of B-complex vitamins, niacin aids in the normal functioning of the human digestive system, promoting a healthy appetite, properly functioning nerves, and a glowing skin.

3. Improves skin

Vitamin B3 or Niacin helps in protecting the skin from sun damage. It is often used in cosmetics and creams used for anti-ageing. It is known to reverse sun damage and discoloration that may occur due to ageing.

4. Increases HDL Cholesterol

In addition to lowering LDL cholesterol, niacin also raises “good” HDL cholesterol. It does this by helping to stop the breakdown of apolipoprotein A1, a protein that helps make HDL. Studies have shown that niacin raises HDL cholesterol levels by 15–35%.

5. Boost Brain Function

Conditions such as brain fog and some psychiatric symptoms have been linked to a B3 deficiency. Some forms of schizophrenia have been helped by the use of niacin because of its ability to repair damage to brain cells.

6. May Help Treat Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes affects thousands of new people every day. Because the problem of diabetes is so great, the month of November is recognized as National Diabetes Month. It is estimated that over 30 million people in America have diabetes. Over 84 million have prediabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where a person’s body attacks and destroys insulin-creating cells in their pancreas. Diabetes can lead to other health problems such as heart disease, problems with the eyes, and problems with the kidneys.

A person can take steps to prevent or manage diabetes. Research indicates that Niacin could be used to treat type 1 diabetes. If a person has Type 2 diabetes, it means they have high amounts of cholesterol and fat in the blood. Niacin can be used to lower levels of cholesterol. However, blood sugar levels can increase when a person receives Niacin. Therefore, it may not necessarily be the safest way to treat someone with diabetes. For that reason, a person who has diabetes should only take Niacin as prescribed by their doctor, who will be able to monitor them closely for high blood sugar. Studies show mixed results regarding the risk reduction of type 1 diabetes in children. Therefore, more research is needed.

7. Helps with Joint Mobility and to Treat Arthritis

Some research shows that Vitamin B3 in the form of niacinamide can be effective in increasing joint mobility. Studies correlate niacin intake with lower levels of joint pain, enhanced muscle strength, and fewer symptoms associated with muscle or joint fatigue. Prescribed high doses of niacinamide has been seen in studies to improve flexibility and reduce swelling, allowing some people who take niacinamide to be able to cut down on standard painkillers or medications for arthritis.

As a treatment for osteoarthritis or bone and joint pain, niacin is normally prescribed in high doses for its anti-inflammatory effects. Reducing inflammation helps to lower the occurrence of symptoms of arthritis and to rebuild the joint cartilage that is crucial to mobility and strength.

8. Treats Pellagra

People with weak muscles, digestive problems, skin irritation or pellagra may have a severe vitamin B3 deficiency. These people need to administer an increased dosage of vitamin B3 supplements into their diet.

9. Boosts Energy

Niacin is quite important to the body when it comes to generating energy. Without the vitamin, your body simply cannot convert the protein, carbs, and fat into usable energy. Niacin is one of the B vitamins that help you acquire energy from the food you eat. It also helps in the formation of red blood cells.

How Do You Get Enough Vitamin B3 From Foods?

Salmon and tuna, eggs, leafy vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, avocados, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and mushrooms are good dietary sources.

How Much Niacin Should You Take?

The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for Vitamin B3 niacin is as follows, according to the USDA:

Children: between 2-16 milligrams daily, depending on age
Men: 16 milligrams daily
Women: 14 milligrams daily
Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding 17- 18 milligrams daily

Most people can get the amount of niacin they need by eating a healthy diet.

If your doctor prescribes niacin, you might want to take it with food. This can prevent upset stomach. To reduce flushing — a harmless but uncomfortable side effect of niacin that describes redness and warmth in the face and neck — your health care provider might recommend taking niacin along with aspirin, an NSAID painkiller, or an antihistamine until tolerance to the niacin develops.

What Are The Signs Of A Deficiency?

This deficiency occurs not only when you don’t get enough niacin but also when your body can’t absorb tryptophan, its amino acid precursor. Following are the symptoms of niacin deficiency:

→ Fatigue
→ Indigestion
→ Vomiting
→ Canker sores
→ Depression

Word of Caution

It is difficult to get too much niacin from food sources, but you can get too much niacin when supplementing. Reactions range from flushing, itching, nervousness, and headaches to intestinal cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. High doses of niacin can cause liver toxicity; doses in excess of 3 grams a day should be used only under careful medical supervision (for example, in the treatment of high cholesterol). Gout, abnormal heart rhythms and worsening of stomach ulcers have also been reported with very high doses of supplemental vitamin B3. As always, it is best to consult a doctor or medical professional before taking any supplements or changing your diet in any considerable way.

Sources & References:

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image source: Pixabay Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is nutrient that plays an important part in our good health. It is one of the eight B-complex water-soluble vitamins. When our bodies have enough Vitamin B3, our body is able to function the way it’s supposed to. Our bodies get...
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