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Home :: Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 - Benefits, Deficiency Symptoms And Food Sources

Alternative name :: Niacin, Nicotinic Acid, Niacinamide

What is Vitamin B3?

Vitamin B3 is also known as niacin. Pellagra was once a relatively common disease in the United States. Characterized by anxiety, chronic diarrhea, dermatitis, dizziness, headaches, progressive dementia, weakness, and weight loss, pellagra was most often observed among poor individuals, especially those who existed on a corn-based diet. Not until 1942, however, was the nutrient responsible for preventing pellagra discovered. Named niacin, or vitamin B3, the vitamin-which is not found in corn-was added to enriched flour and other commercially made products, making the disease virtually nonexistent today.

Vitamin B3 is necessary for red blood cell formation and blood circulation, lowers cholesterol and is a vasodilator. It assists in the maintenance of skin, nerves, and blood vessels.

Benefits of Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 contributes to more than 50 vital bodily processes. Like other B vitamins, it helps the body metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and is necessary for the production of hydrochloric acid, which is used in food digestion. The vitamin is involved in the normal secretion of bile and stomach fluids. Vitamin B3 regulates blood sugar levels, is needed in the synthesis of sex hormones, and detoxifies the body of certain drugs and chemicals. It is necessary for normal mental functioning.

Vitamin B3 is needed for proper circulation and healthy skin. It is involved in the normal secretion of bile and stomach fluids, and in the synthesis of sex hormones. Niacin lowers cholesterol and improves circulation. It is helpful for schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, and is also a memory enhancer.

Recommended Dosage of Vitamin B3

The minimum Recommended Dosage Allowance of Vitamin B3 are :-

  • Men - 19 mg.
  • Women - 15 mg.
  • Pregnant women - 17 mg.
  • Lactating women - 20 mg.

Because of the extreme nausea that accompanies large doses of niacin, there are few reported cases of individuals taking enough niacin to overdose.

Excessive Intake of Vitamin B3

Dosages of Vitamin B3 over 50 to 100 mg can cause temporary flushing in some individuals. Taking more than 500 mg Vitamin B3 daily for several months at a time may cause liver damage. For that reason, people with hepatitis or other liver disease should consult a doctor before taking large amounts of Vitamin B3.

Special Intake of Vitamin B3

Individuals who drink alcohol daily have increased needs for vitamin B3. Because they do not metabolize the vitamin efficiently, elderly people and individuals with hyperthyroidism also need higher levels of vitamin B3.

Deficiency Symptoms of Vitamin B3

Pellagra is a disease caused by niacin deficiency. Other symptoms of Vitamin B3 deficiency include canker sores, dementia, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue, halitosis, headaches, indigestion, insomnia, limb pains, loss of appetite, low blood sugar, muscular weakness, skin eruptions, and inflammation.

Rich Food Sources of Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 and niacinamide are found in beef liver, brewer's yeast, broccoli, carrots, cheese, corn flour, dandelion greens, dates, eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, pork, potatoes, tomatoes, wheat germ, and whole wheat products.

Herbs that contain niacin include alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, hops, licorice, mullein, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hips, slippery elm, and yellow dock.


A flush, usually harmless, may occur after the ingestion of niacin supplements; a red rash appears on the skin and a tingling sensation may be experienced as well. Usually, these symptoms last only a few minutes. There are two forms of this vitamin: niacin (or nicotinic acid) and niacinamide. In the form of niacinamide, it does not cause flushing. However, niacinamide does not have all the same properties of niacin. Specifically, it is not effective for lowering blood cholesterol.

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