Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is one of the 8 B-complex water-soluble vitamins. It has been shown to break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats and turn them into energy. It plays a part in producing a particular hormone in the adrenal glands and helps remove harmful chemicals from the liver. It’s also been shown to calm and maintain a  healthy nervous system.

Vitamin B3 has been used to treat migraines, circulation problems, dizziness and diarrhea in cholera. It reduces the risk of heart disease and lowers harmful cholesterol (LDL). According to the Mayo Clinic, it can raise good cholesterol (HDL) by more than 30 percent.

Vitamin B3 may also reduce the incidence of asthma-induced wheezing, and may be helpful in treating or preventing atherosclerosis, second heart attacks, Alzheimer’s disease and osteoarthritis.

Sources

Vitamin B3 is found in many different types of foods such as broccoli, eggs, salmon, sweet potatoes, avocados, tuna, leafy vegetables, tomatoes, whole grain, nuts, carrots, legumes and mushrooms.

Risks

It is not likely that you will get too much niacin from food sources, but you can get too much niacin when supplementing. Reactions range from:

  • flushing
  • itching
  • nervousness
  • headaches
  • intestinal cramps
  • nausea
  • diarrhea

High doses of niacin can cause liver toxicity; doses in excess of 3 grams (1000mg=1gm) a day should be used only under careful medical supervision. Gout, abnormal heart rhythms and worsening of stomach ulcers have also been reported with very high doses of supplemental vitamin B3.

Resources

Bradford, Alina. “Niacin (Vitamin B3): Benefits & Side Effects.” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 12 Aug. 2015. Web. 20 Aug. 2016.

“Vitamin B3 for Heart Health.” Andrew Weil, M.D. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2016.