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Vitamin B3 Health Benefits |Food Sources |Deficiency and Treatment

Vitamin B3 also called as niacin. All B vitamins are water soluble. All B vitamins help the body to convert food into fuel (glucose), which is used to produce energy. B complex vitamins are needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes and liver, help the nervous system function properly. Niacin is a colorless vitamin. The derivative of niacin is nicotinamide, which is used by the body to create the coenzymes NAD and NADP.

NAD plays an important role in the catabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, fats and alcohol. NADP is involved in anabolism reactions such as cholesterol synthesis. Nicotinamide does not have the same pharmacological effects (lipid modifying effects) as niacin. Nicotinamide does not reduce cholesterol or cause flushing. Niacin is involved in both DNA repair and the production of steroid hormones in the adrenal gland. Tryptophan is one of the amino acids that make up protein. Liver can convert tryptophan from high protein foods like meat and milk into niacin. The basic requirement of vitamin B3 can only be met through a healthy diet. Not many people are naturally deficient in vitamin B3. However a major cause of vitamin B3 deficiency in the developed countries is excessive alcoholism.

Vitamin b3 vitaminsVitamin B3 Health Benefits ?

  • Helps the body make various sex and stress related hormones in the adrenal glands and other parts of the body.
  • Vitami9n B3 helps in improving the circulation
  • Niacin is needed for proper functioning of the digestive system. It plays a role in the production of Hcl, which is needed for good digestive function. It also acts to guard pancreas health
  • It is necessary for regulating the expression of genes and in maintaining genomic activities
  • Niacin acts to aid the body in the elimination of toxins and harmful chemicals
  • Improve circulatory function as well as reduce blood serum cholesterol levels by inhibiting its accumulation in the arteries and in the liver
  • Niacin helps to increase the amount of good cholesterol and lower tha amount of bad cholesterol in the blood
  • Additionally it may increase the effectiveness of certain medicines which are prescribed to reduce cholesterol
  • Some studies suggests that vitamin B3 can help in decreasing the insulin sensitivity
  • Studies show that niacin decreases cancer risk via ensuring DNA integrity and maintenance
  • Slowing the progression of AIDS

How much Vitamin B3 is required?

The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin B2 is

  • 0-6 months                       2 mg
  • 6-12 months                     4 mg
  • 1-3 years                            6 mg
  • 4-8 years                           8 mg
  • 9-13 years                        12 mg
  • 14+ females                     14 mg
  • 14+ male                          16 mg
  • Pregnant women           18 mg
  • Lactating women           17 mg

What are the Food Sources of Vitamin B3?

The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods

  • Fish, Chicken, Pork, Liver
  • Peanuts, Green peas, Fortified cereals, Sunflower seeds
  • Mushrooms
  • Avocado
  • Yeast
  • Soy sauce
  • Sprouted beans, legumes
  • Brown rice
  • Dairy products, eggs

What are the Vitamin B3 Deficiency Symptoms?

Niacin deficiency is a condition that occurs when a person doesn’t get enough or can’t absorb niacin or tryptophan. The most common cause of deficiency is alcoholism. Other causes include disorders of digestive system and prolonged treatment with the tuberculosis drug isoniazid.

Mild niacin deficiency symptoms include indigestion, fatigue, canker sores, vomiting and depression. Severe deficiency of vitamin B3 is called as Pellagra. Pellagra can cause symptoms related to the skin, digestive system and nervous system.

Pellagra Symptoms:-

  • Thick scaly pigmented rash on skin exposed to sunlight. Skin lesions on the face, arms and hands
  • Swollen mouth, bright red tongue
  • Vomiting, diarrhea
  • Head ache, apathy, fatigue
  • Depression, disorientation, memory loss

If not treated, pellagra can lead to death.

How to Overcome Vitamin B3 Deficiency? Treatments

If you don’t eat a lot of niacin rich foods, or if you have a medical condition that affects the absorption of niacin or tryptophan then speak to your doctor. Niacin supplements or multivitamin\mineral supplements can help in the treatment of niacin deficiency. Avoid taking more than your doctor recommends. Vitamin B3 rich foods should be advised.

Taking any one of the B vitamins for a long period of time can result in an imbalance of other important B vitamins. For this reason B complex vitamin which includes all the B vitamins is recommended. People with liver diseases, kidney diseases, stomach ulcers should not take niacin supplements. People with coronary artery disease or unstable angina should not take niacin without doctor’s supervision. Vitamin B supplements interfere with the absorption and effectiveness of tetracycline. So it should be taken at different times from tetracycline.

What are the Symptoms of Vitamin B3 overdose?

High doses of niacin can cause side effects. The most common side effect is called “niacin flush” which is a burning and tingling sensation in the face and chest and red or flushed skin. The duration of niacin flush is fifteen to thirty minutes. To avoid niacin flush take niacinamide instead of niacin. Very high doses can cause liver damage and stomach ulcers. Niacin overload symptoms include rapid heartbeat, itching, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, gout. There are so many side effects that can harm if you take too much niacin. That’s why it’s important to follow the doctor’s prescription.


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