Niacin (Vitamin B3) – Scientific Review on Usage & Dosage
What is vitamin B3?
Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is actually made up of niacin (nicotinic acid) and niacinamide. It is a water-soluble nutrient that is part of the B vitamin family. B vitamins help to support adrenal function, to calm and maintain a healthy nervous system, and are necessary for key metabolic processes. Niacin is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.
Health Benefits of Vitamin B3 or Niacin
However, those benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. Vitamin B3 has numerous other health benefits, which mankind has slowly discovered over the course of many years.
Some of the beneficial properties are explained in greater detail below.
Digestion: As a member of B-complex vitamins, niacin aids in the normal functioning of the human digestive system, promoting a healthy appetite, properly functioning nerves, and a glowing skin.
Pellagra: People with weak muscles, digestive problems, skin irritation or pellagra may have a severe vitamin B3 deficiency. These people need to administer an increased dosage of vitamin B3 supplements into their diet.
Cholesterol: Intake of large quantities of niacin, which would be 1100 or more milligrams in a day, has been proven to considerably reduce the levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise the good HDL cholesterol, which prevents the thickening of artery walls and conditions like atherosclerosis.
Water-soluble: Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin that can travel through the human blood stream and the body has the option to discharge excess vitamins through the process of urination. Therefore, such vitamins may be administered to human beings through both food and liquid, since our body does need a constant supply.
Sex: Niacin helps in creating sex hormones for people suffering through sexual disorders like impotence and erectile dysfunction.
Energy: Vitamin B3 performs the important function of converting proteins, carbohydrates and fats into energy.
Mental Health: Even mental derangement and associated conditions may be cured with the administration of niacin supplements or medicinal drugs.
Diabetes: Niacin is known to treat diabetes and high blood sugar levels. Most diabetic patients are able to effectively control HBA1C levels with the help of niacin.
How much does a child need? According to the NIH, not enough scientific evidence is available to recommend the safe use of supplemental niacin or niacinamide in children. Dr. Weil recommends 20 mg (as niacinimide) as part of a daily children’s multivitamin, but you should always consult with your pediatrician before beginning any supplement.
How do you get enough vitamin B3 from foods? Salmon and tuna, eggs, leafy vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, avocados, nuts, whole grains, legumes and mushrooms are good dietary sources.
Word of Caution: Niacin may have a drugging effect when taken in very high dosages, and as always, it is best to consult a doctor or medical professional before taking any supplements or changing your diets in any considerable way.
Vitamin B3 refers to the molecule commonly called nicotinic acid, or niacin, though it may also refer to the other vitamin B3 vitamer, called nicotinamide. Vitamin B3 is necessary to support the function of many enzymes.
Niacin supplementation is very effective at normalizing blood lipid levels. People with low HDL-C levels supplementation experience an increase in HDL-C levels, while people with high LDL-C experience a reduction in LDL-C levels. Triglyceride levels also fall after supplementation, which makes niacin look like a great cardioprotective supplement on paper. Unfortunately, niacin supplementation does not result in reduced cardiovascular disease risk, since it also increases insulin resistance, which negates the benefits niacin provides for blood lipid levels.
Other benefits of niacin supplementation are theorized to extend to growth, cognition, and longevity. This is because niacin supplementation increases cellular nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) levels. Preliminary evidence suggests increased NAD+ levels may result in the above benefits, but much more research is needed to determine if this effect actually occurs. Topical application of nicotinamide is sometimes used for skin health, though it is not as effective as vitamin A. Nicotinamide is used for topical application because it does not result in the flushed skin that niacin supplementation can cause.
Current evidence suggests prolonged niacin supplementation increases insulin resistance because it hinders the ability of insulin to suppress glucose synthesis in the liver. This causes an increase in blood glucose levels, which leads to lowered insulin sensitivity over time, since the relevant receptor is eventually desensitized to the elevated glucose levels in the blood. The flush caused by niacin supplementation is a temporary effect. Though it may be uncomfortable, it is not harmful. There are many case studies describing people overdosing on niacin in an effort to pass a urine test. Niacin overdose results in multiple organ failure and is not effective at masking a urine test.