Vitamin B3 (niacin) was once considered a cholesterol and blood lipid-lowering agent. But it also appears to protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation, thereby reducing the risk of skin cancer. We present these and many other interesting properties and results of the B vitamin. Of course, you will also find out how much vitamin B3 you need, and we will introduce the foods richest in vitamin B3.
For The Nerves
The B vitamins are primarily known as nerve vitamins. Anyone who has stress and is nervously tense or who suffers from a nervous system disease often resorts to a vitamin B complex. Vitamins B3 and B12 are among essential B vitamins. They are involved in the myelin formation of the nerve tracts in the entire nervous system – both in the brain and in the rest of the body. The myelin sheath surrounds the nerve fibers and is responsible for their proper functioning, i.e., rapid conduction of excitation.
Therefore, if you have nervous problems of any kind, always think of the vitamin B complex! Whether it concerns complaints of the peripheral nervous system (tingling, fuzzy feeling) or criticisms of the central nervous system (irritability, confusion, unusual tiredness, psychosis), a vitamin B complex should be part of the therapy.
For The Blood Sugar Level
Vitamin B3 is also involved in blood sugar regulation. Together with chromium, it forms the so-called glucose tolerance factor (GTF). The GTF controls insulin binding to the target cells, which leads to improved glucose uptake and thus lowers the blood sugar level. If you have diabetes or a corresponding preliminary stage, check your vitamin B supply! However, the dose should not exceed the usual amounts for food supplements.
For More Energy
Vitamin B3 is part of NAD or NADH ( nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide hydride ), a coenzyme in energy production in the cell. The more NADH there is, the more energy can be formed. NADH is also available as a dietary supplement – if you feel energized or suffer from chronic illnesses. A good energy supply is an essential prerequisite for the healing process. As an energy booster for healthy people, 2 x 10 mg is recommended. With existing diseases, you take up to 100 mg NADH per day.
For The Heart, Liver, Kidneys, And Immune System
Since there is a tremendous amount of niacin in the heart, liver, kidneys, and immune cells, vitamin B3 seems to be extremely important for these organs and cells.
Vitamin B3 (Nicotinamide) For Mental Disorders
Vitamin B3 in the form of nicotinamide can be used in mental disorders such as schizophrenia. We have provided details on the use of vitamin B3 for schizophrenia in our article on dietary supplements for schizophrenia.
Vitamin B3 (Nicotinic Acid) To Lower Cholesterol Levels
Nicotinic acid is one of the oldest drugs used to treat disorders of lipid metabolism. Increased lipoprotein-a-level or when the HDL-cholesterol level is too low (HDL-cholesterol is the so-called “good” cholesterol). Here too, vitamin B3 (in the form of nicotinic acid) is used in very high doses and is more of a medicine than a dietary supplement. Nicotinamide, on the other hand, does not affect lipid metabolism.
Regulation of these blood lipid levels is now in turn with better cardiovascular health, e.g., B. equated with a lower risk of arteriosclerosis. The administration of nicotinic acid could also reduce the number of fatal cardiovascular events. However, recent studies show that although vitamin B3 (in high doses) increases HDL cholesterol, this cannot reduce cardiovascular diseases.
We generally recommend a holistic program to regulate cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular diseases (see the previous link) and never just one remedy, even a vitamin. Because, as written above, in the high doses used, vitamin B3 should be viewed more as a drug, which can also have side effects.
Could Vitamin B3 Have Side Effects?
Vitamin B3 is generally considered so safe and well-tolerated that it can be bought over the counter. Nonetheless, side effects can occur, but mostly only at high doses, which is why the rate of those who discontinue the drug is relatively high because the vitamin in the form of nicotinic acid can widen the blood vessels, which can lead to headaches and falling blood pressure. The latter is helpful with high blood pressure, but with low blood pressure, high doses of vitamin B3 could lead to low blood pressure. However, this is not the case with average amounts (around 50 mg).
The Niacin Flush
Another consequence of the enlarged blood vessels in high vitamin B3 doses is the so-called flush, a sudden hot flush with reddening of the skin on the face, which can last up to 1.5 hours. The color is also what made the therapeutic (high-dose) use of niacin so unpopular. Nevertheless, the vitamin has remained over the counter.
Side Effects Only With Nicotinic Acid
The side effects described occur particularly when taking vitamin B3 in nicotinic acid but rarely when taking nicotinamide.
Vitamin B3: The Correct Intake
If you want to take vitamin B3 as a dietary supplement, it is best to gain it or after meals – especially if you’re going to use it in high doses. High-dose therapy, however, should be discussed with the doctor. Average amounts of up to 50 mg are ideally taken with other B vitamins, i.e., in the form of a vitamin B complex.
Vitamin B3 Deficiency: Pellagra
The most extreme form of vitamin B3 deficiency is called Pellagra. Still, it only occurs when you do not consume any usable vitamin B3 at all and at the same time have a protein deficiency – which, for example, is a problem. This is the case, for instance, in developing countries with famine, when people only eat a little corn or millet porridge every day.
Therefore, a protein deficiency is a prerequisite for a pronounced vitamin B3 deficiency, as the human organism can produce vitamin B3 from the amino acid tryptophan. If too few proteins are consumed (which are composed of amino acids), there is also a lack of tryptophan to form vitamin B3 from it.
The Body Itself Can Also Produce Vitamin B3
Vitamin B3 is, therefore, a great vitamin. Because the definition of a vitamin generally means that these substances must be taken in with food and cannot be produced by the organism itself. However, only about half of the vitamin B3 requirement can be covered by self-production from tryptophan. This B3 production from tryptophan takes place in the liver.
Latent B3 Deficiency: The Symptoms
Since Pellagra can only be observed in the case of anorexia or other severe illnesses in industrialized countries, it is officially assumed that there is no longer a B3 deficiency here. But there are, of course, all possible degrees of undersupply between a good supply and Pellagra, which can also be expressed in symptoms, e.g., B. with the following:
- Reddened, irritated skin
- Torn corners of the mouth
- Digestive problems
- Mood swings (anxiety, depression)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Circulatory disorders
In the case of indefinable skin problems and torn corners of the mouth, a vitamin B complex preparation often helps after just a few days. Even if the symptoms mentioned can have many other causes, it is worth trying B vitamins – especially since they cannot have any side effects in the usual doses.
The Need For Vitamin B3
The daily requirement for vitamin B3 ranges between 13 and 17 mg for teenagers and adults. For those who want more details, here are the exact values:
- Infants up to 4 months: 2 mg
- Infants up to 12 months: 5 mg
- Children 1 to 4 years: 8 mg
- Children 4 to 7 years: 9 mg
- Children 7 to 10 years: 10-11 mg
- Girls / women from 10 years: 11-13 mg
- Boys 10 to 15 years: 13-15 mg
- Boys 15 to 25 years old: 17 mg
- Men aged 25 and over: 15-16 mg
- Pregnant women: 14-16 mg
- Breastfeeding: 16 mg
Foods With Vitamin B3
In foods of animal origin (meat), 30 percent of the vitamin B3 is in nicotinic acid and 70 percent in the form of nicotinamide. In plant-based foods (cereals, legumes), it is the other way round. There, 87 percent of vitamin B3 is found in nicotinic acid and only 13 percent in the form of nicotinamide. Below we list some purely plant-based foods that are particularly rich in vitamin B3 (niacin). You can see that with a wholesome vegan diet, you can supply yourself very well with vitamin B3.
Food Niacin / Vitamin B3 In Mg Per 100 g
|Dried mushrooms (various types)||60 mg|
|Yeast flakes||26 mg|
|Peanut butter||13 mg|
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