Vitamin B3 (Niacin)- Uses, Dietary, Sources & Symptoms

Vitamin B3 is also commonly known as Niacin and it is water-soluble in nature. Vitamin B3 is available in three forms which are niacin (nicotinic acid), nicotinamide (niacinamide) and  nicotinamide riboside. It plays a vital role in converting carbohydrates into fats. Less nutrition or under nutrition causes vitamin B3 deficiency which further causes pellagra. It has symptoms such as thick scaly skin, rough appearance to the skin, swollen mouth, bright red tongue, fatigue or apathy, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea.

In the human body, it functions as a coenzyme having more than 400 enzymes being dependent on it for different actions. It also helps in producing energy from nutrients, making cholesterol and fats , producing and repairing DNA, and exerting antioxidant effects.

Vitamin B3 is available in three forms which are as follows:

  • Niacin (nicotinic acid) – Niacin is also known as NA and was discovered in the late 1930s. In the initial days after its discovery, Niacin was used as treatment drug for Pellagra and later on it was used in treating  high cholesterol. The only side-effect is faced by consuming it is the occurrence of flush on skin which involves the reddening and warming of skin.  
  • Nicotinamide (niacinamide) – It is also knows as NAM and it can also be used in the treatment of Pellagra. Nicotinamaide is used in treatment of acne as an anti-inflammatory drug. Furthermore, overdosing of this drug leads to adverse effects on Sirutins which are proteins related to longevity and anti–aging. 
  • Nicotinamide Riboside- Also known by the acronym NR. This Vitamin B3 was discovered in 1940 and keeps the cells activated to regulate cellular aging and promote healthy aging.  

VITAMIN B3 KEY FUNCTIONS

Vitamin B3 has a lot of key functions which include the following:

  • Plays a vital role in converting carbohydrates into fats.
  • Helps in increasing the level of good HDL cholesterol and decreases the levels of triglycerides. Further, it is also combined with statins such as rosuvastatin, simvastatin, atorvastatin and pravastatin to control cholesterol.
  • Helps in the strengthening and moisturizing of cells from inside by enhancing the dilation of capillaries and flow of blood.
  • Increases the production of proteins which further help in restoring the elasticity of cells.
  • Facilitates the normal functioning of the nervous system and other psychological systems.
  • Helps in reducing the tiredness and fatigue in body.
  • Used to fortify grains such as corn, bran cereals and wheat flour.
  • It also helps in increasing the metabolism of body as it is a precursor of Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide which is a coenzyme present in every cell of body.

VITAMIN B3 DIETARY SOURCES 

There are many food items that are rich in Vitamin B3 and they are as follows:

Potatoes, bran, green peas, peanuts, green leafy vegetables, coffee, whole wheat, corn, legumes , fortified foods, milk, tea, brown rice, avocado, brown rice, anchovies, red meat, salmon, eggs, pork, ground beef, chicken breast, tuna and turkey.

RECOMMENDED DAILY ALLOWANCE: 

It is measured in milligrams (mg) of niacin equivalents (NE) which means that 1 NE is equal to 1 milligram of niacin or 60 mg of tryptophan. 

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin B3 for adults aged above 19 years is 16 mg, for men it is 14 mg, for women it is 18 mg, for pregnant women and lactating women is 17 mg.

VITAMIN B3 DEFICIENCY

Severe deficiency of vitamin B3 deficiency causes Pellagra and there are several causes due to which deficiency of vitamin B3 occurs and they are as follows:

A diet having low tryptophan decreases the ability to convert tryptophan into niacin and can cause Hartnup disease or carcinoid syndrome.

Less nutrition or under nutrition causes vitamin B3 deficiency which further causes Pellagra.

Decreased intake of vitamin B2, B6 or iron can lead to reduction in the conversion of tryptophan to niacin. 

VITAMIN B3 SYMPTOMS

There are multiple signs and symptoms that occur due to vitamin B3 deficiency and they include  rashes on skin with pigments, thick scaly skin, rough appearance to the skin, swollen mouth, bright red tongue, fatigue or apathy, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, circulatory problems, insomnia, depression, headache, disorientation, and memory loss.

Expert: Dr. Gunjan Chauhan

About Expert: More than 7 years of experience in medical writing.  Being a Periodontist and Oral Implantologist, published medical research publications in national and international journals.

Pic Credit: vectorstock.com

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