Week 41 Vitamin B3- Niacin

What is Vitamin B3- As all B vitamins, Vitamin B3/ niacin is water soluble. That means what the body does not use, will be excreted in our urine. There are two main chemical forms of niacin: nicotinic acid and niacinamide (sometimes called nicotinamide). Both forms are found in foods as well as supplements.  Niacin works in the body as a coenzyme to synthesize the coenzymes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP), which are involved in over 400 biochemical reactions in your body. These reactions are mostly related to obtaining energy from the food you eat as these two are involved in cellular metabolism. Also, Niacin helps repair DNA, has antioxidant effects and helps with your nervous system, digestive system and skin health.


Research on the use of oral niacin- helps to treat specific conditions:

1.            Improves blood fat levels by: Increasing your HDL (good) cholesterol, reducing your LDL (bad) LDL cholesterol, reducing your triglyceride levels from your bloodstream. Even though niacin's ability to raise HDL, research suggests that niacin therapy isn't linked to lower rates of death, heart attack or stroke. Niacin is only effective as a cholesterol treatment at fairly high doses. These higher doses could have health risks, such as liver damage, gastrointestinal problems, or glucose intolerance. For these reasons, niacin is not a primary treatment for high cholesterol. It’s primarily used to help improve blood fat levels in people who cannot tolerate statin drugs. Please don't treat yourself with over-the-counter niacin supplements. Get advice from your trusted care provider on how to use for your benefit.

2.            May reduce blood pressure: One role of niacin is to release prostaglandins that are chemicals that help your blood vessels widen. This improves blood flow and may reduce blood pressure. For this reason, niacin may play a role in the prevention or treatment of high blood pressure. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33404619/

- In one observational study of over 12,000 adults, researchers found that each 1 mg increase in daily niacin intake was associated with a 2% decrease in high blood pressure risk — with the lowest overall high blood pressure risk seen at a daily niacin intake of 14.3 to 16.7 mg per day. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26590128/    As I always add, more research is needed to confirm these effects.

        3. Boosts brain function: Your brain needs niacin; remember earlier I spoke how niacin is part of the coenzymes NAD and NADP that get energy and function properly. In the NIH website, brain fog and even psychiatric symptoms are associated with niacin deficiency. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Niacin-HealthProfessional/       https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25324641/     

Preliminary research shows that it could also help keep the brain healthy in cases of Alzheimer’s disease. As usual, results are mixed yet I feel these results look promising! https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23312803/       https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24965307/

          4.  Improves skin health:  Niacin helps protect skin cells from sun damage, whether it’s used orally or applied as a lotion. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30698874/     It may help prevent certain types of skin cancer as well. One high quality study in over 300 people at high risk of skin cancer found that taking 500 mg of nicotinamide twice daily reduced rates of nonmelanoma skin cancer compared to a control. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26488693/

The links to all the mentioned studies are on my website.

           5. Decreases the risk of type 1 diabetes: Type 1 diabetes is common for all ages. This autoimmune disorder attacks cells and causes insulin levels to drop very low. Niacin works to protect these cells and stabilize insulin levels. We hope to hear more on this health benefit. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23231526/


1.            Food- A niacin deficiency is rare because it is found in many foods, both from animals and plants. Good sources- red meat: beef, beef liver, pork, poultry, Fish, Brown rice, Fortified cereals and breads, Nuts, seeds, Legumes, Bananas. Here are specific good sources and the daily value - grilled chicken breast, 3 ounces: 64% of the DV; roasted turkey breast, 3 ounces: 63% of the DV; cooked brown rice, 1 cup: 33% of the DV; dry roasted peanuts, 1 ounce: 26% of the DV; medium baked potato: 14% of the DV

2.            Supplements- Niacin is available as a supplement in the form of nicotinic acid or nicotinamide. Niacin supplements are also available as a prescription medicine that is used to treat high cholesterol; this typically comes in an extended-release form of nicotinic acid that allows slower, more gradual absorption so that it does not cause flushing.

3.            Some energy drinks-— sometimes high amounts of all B vitamins including niacin. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171935/nutrients  I have included a link to the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE on this topic. Please read labels before drinking any energy type drink!

NIACIN DAILY NEEDS-dietary reference intake (DRI), a term that is replacing the older and more familiar RDA (recommended daily allowance).

For niacin, the DRIs vary with age and other factors and are given in milligrams of niacin equivalents: (NE) One NE is equal to 1 mg of niacin.


Children: between 2-16 milligrams daily, depending on age

Men: 16 milligrams daily

Women: 14 milligrams daily

Women (pregnant): 18 milligrams daily

Women (breastfeeding): 17 milligrams daily

Maximum daily intake for adults of all ages: 35 milligrams daily

Most people can get the amount of niacin they need by eating a balanced and healthy diet. Check your daily multivitamin for niacin.

If your doctor prescribes niacin, please take it with food. This can prevent upset stomach.


Deficiency- deficiency is very rare in most Western countries. People who are malnourished — which may stem from HIV/AIDS, anorexia nervosa, liver failure, alcohol abuse, or other medical problems, or poverty — are most at risk.

symptoms of niacin deficiency:

skin rash or discoloration

bright red tongue


constipation or diarrhea




memory loss

loss of appetite

Severe niacin deficiency, or pellagra, mostly occurs in developing countries, where diets are very poor. If proper healthcare is available, it can be treated with niacinamide supplementation.

Safety and side effects-

There’s no danger in consuming niacin in the amounts found naturally in food. Supplement mega-doses can have side effects, including nausea, vomiting, and liver toxicity. Of particular note is one side effect known as niacin flush. This can occur when taking 30–50 mg or more of supplemental niacin in a single dose. It causes a reddening of the skin along with burning or itching sensations. While a niacin flush isn’t typically harmful, it can be accompanied by other unpleasant side effects like headache or low blood pressure.

Interactions- If you take any medicines or supplements regularly, talk to your trusted health care provider before you start using niacin supplements. They could interact with medicines like diabetes drugs, blood thinners, anticonvulsants, blood pressure medicines, thyroid hormones, and antibiotics.