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15Aug

NUTRIENTS A-Z: VITAMIN B3 (NIACIN/NIACINAMIDE)

Niacin (nicotinic acid or vitamin B3) is a water soluble vitamin and is used by your body to turn food into energy. Niacin also helps keep your nervous system, digestive system, skin, hair and eyes healthy.

Niacinamide can be made from niacin in the body.  Niacin is converted to niacinamide when it is taken in amounts greater than what is needed by the body.  Niacinamide has no beneficial effects on fats and should not be used for treating high cholesterol or high fat levels in the blood.

It is often used to increase your HDL cholesterol or correct a vitamin deficiency.  Niacin can raise HDL cholesterol by more than 30 percent. HDL, the "good" cholesterol, picks up excess bad cholesterol in your blood and takes it back to your liver for disposal.  It is also effective in treating people with migraines and acne.

Niacin can cause certain flushing (warmth, itching, redness, or tingly feeling under your skin). These effects only last a short time (usually 20 minutes), depending on the dose. 

Foods rich in vitamin B3 are liver, lean meat, whole wheat, brewer’s yeast, kidney, wheat germ, fish, eggs, roasted peanuts, chicken/turkey breast, avocados, dates, figs, prunes, seafood, rhubarb, and milk products.

Symptoms of a B3 deficiency include:

  • Chapping of backs of hands

  • Diarrhea

  • Itchy, red or inflamed skin, dermatitis

  • Irritability, anxiety or depression

  • Indigestion

  • Small ulcers or canker sores on mouth

  • Burning sensation in hands or feet

  • Insomnia

  • Whitish, coated tongue

  • Brilliant red, painful tongue

  • Swollen tongue with red tips and sides

  • Feel as if hands or feet go numb

Supplementary range:  50 to 350 mg daily.

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