Vitamin B3 Niacin – What is it? What is it good for?
Niacin is Vitamin B3 and part of the Vitamin B Complex. It is also called nicotinic acid. It is an essential nutrient. A lack or deficiency of Niacin can cause Pellagra. These days, a disease mostly found from third world and developing countries. The importance of Niacin in the diet has been known since about 1937, when it was discovered that patients with Pellagra, benefitted from Niacin extracted from livers.
More recently Niacin has been found helpful in reducing cholesterol, especially for patients with Diabetes. It helps to lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. A Google search of “Niacin and Diabetes” will reveal a more technical explanation of this for those who need it.
There is some evidence that it does a great deal to help avoid Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, arthritis and more, but more conclusive research is needed. It has also been shown helpful in managing some mental disorders.
Niacin deficiency has been associated with symptoms such as: irritability, poor concentration, fatigue, restlessness, apathy, anxiety, and depression.
Niacin is water soluble. It cannot be stored in your body. Excess Niacin is excreted through the urine. This means you need to constantly replenish the Niacin in your body. It needs to be steadily supplied in your diet.
Sufficient Niacin is available in a normal balanced diet, including liver, chicken, beef, fish, cereal, peanuts and legumes. Avocados, dates, nuts, and crimini mushrooms are particularly high in Niacin. Dark Green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and asparagus are also high in Niacin.
Thankfully, coffee is as well. It is always best to eat these foods in their most whole, organic, and unprocessed forms in order to get the maximum nutritional value from them.
About 14 to 16 mg per day is an adequate daily dosage. It can be taken in higher doses, but care must be taken. In higher doses it can be toxic, very toxic. Children and pregnant women should not take Niacin supplements without consulting a doctor.
That is not to say that taking vitamin supplements are unsafe, just that guidance is needed at higher doses than supplied in the diet. Daily dosages of 35 mg per day seems to be a safe maximum for healthy adults.
Risks And Interactions
There are some risks associated with supplemental dosages of Niacin. It can cause liver, stomach, and kidney problems. People with medical conditions should consult their doctor before embarking upon a schedule of niacin supplementation.
You certainly should not begin self treatment for a known condition with Niacin supplements without consulting with your doctor.
Additionally, if you are taking any other medications it becomes important to consult with your doctor, as Niacin supplements can interact with medications. Medications for Diabetes , high blood pressure , blood thinners, thyroid medications, and anticonvulsants are among the drugs that can interact poorly with Niacin supplements.
More Information and Resources About Niacin Vitamin B3