The Vitamin Breakdown! – Vitamin B3

Welcome back one and all to the vitamin breakdown series! These posts are simply to break down each one of those often referenced healthy vitamins. I’ll detail what they do, how they do it and where you get it. 

Today’s post is still with the B vitamins, commonly known as the B-complex vitamins. As detailed in previous posts, B vitamins help the body convert carbohydrates into fuel (glucose), which the body uses to produce energy. These B vitamins also help the body metabolise, or simply use, fats and protein for various functions. 

B-complex vitamins are needed for a healthy liver, healthy skin, hair, and eyes, and to help the nervous system function properly. As there are 8 B vitamins in total, we’ve still got some way to go. So without further ado ladies and gents, I present to you.. vitamin B3!

Vitamin B3, like its compadres, is a water-soluble vitamin. It is also known as niacin. There are three forms of niacin; Niacinamide and Inositol hexanicotinate and Nicotinic acid. 
The two main chemical forms of niacin each have different effects on the body. Both forms are found in foods as well as supplements;

– Nicotinic acid: As a supplement, nicotinic acid is the form of niacin that’s used to treat high cholesterol and heart disease.

– Niacinamide or nicotinamide: Unlike nicotinic acid, niacinamide doesn’t lower cholesterol. However, it can help treat type 1 diabetes, some skin conditions and schizophrenia. 

We’ll go with into some more detail about the role of both forms of B3 in a bit. 

Digestion

As with all of the B vitamins, niacin helps breakdown and convert food into energy by helping enzymes do their job. Specifically, niacin is a major component of NAD and NADP, two coenzymes that are involved in cellular metabolism. Furthermore, it plays a role in cell signalling and making and repairing DNA, in addition to acting as an antioxidant.

 It also acts to maintain and strengthen the gastro-intestinal tract, which is an organ system within humans and other animals which takes in food, digests it to extract and absorb energy and nutrients, and expels the remaining waste as feces. 

The Circulatory System  & Inflammation   

Niacin plays a role in circulation, the suppression of inflammation and reduces anti-oxidative stress through its antioxidant capacity. As well as reducing inflammation , niacin supports the production of histamine, which is a chemical compound capable of dilating blood vessels  and thus improving circulation.

Niacin’s anti inflammatory symptoms are impressive with even a recent animal study suggested that niacin may be helpful in preventing inflammatory bowel disease and colitis. This protection could be attributed to niacin’s anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic effects. (Angiogenic means the formation and development of blood vessels.)

There’s good evidence that it helps reduce atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries in some people. For people who have already had a heart attack, niacin seems to lower the risk of a second one. In addition, niacin is an approved treatment for pellagra, a rare condition that develops from niacin deficiency.

Hormones 

Niacin helps the body make various sex and stress-related hormones in the adrenal glands and other parts of the body. It plays a key role in liver function where it helps remove harmful chemicals from the liver. 

Niacinamide has a strong calming effect, so it works synergistically with melatonin to make you sleep well. Sleep is of course essential to growth hormone production. Niacin also directly stimulates growth hormone secretion. Back in 1983, researches found that intravenous administration of 500 mg of niacin produced a dramatic rise in growth hormone. Now its known that even small amounts of niacin can boost blood levels of growth hormone.

The Big One

This improving of circulation may have a significant impact for males suffering with intimacy problems. According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, vitamin B3 was found to improve the ability to maintain an erection in men with moderate to severe erectile dysfunction. 

Supplementing with Vitamin B3 niacin can help decrease impotence because niacin acts as a vasodilator that helps improve blood flow to the genital region. One blog writer advised supplementing with Vitamin B3 niacin (250 mg) 3 times per day, but I’d highly recommend speaking with a health professional first. 

The Brain

Your brain needs niacin, as a part of the coenzymes NAD and NADP, to get energy and function properly. In fact, brain fog and even psychiatric symptoms have been associated with niacin deficiency.

Some types of schizophrenia can be treated with niacin (or niacinamide), as it helps undo the damage to brain cells that occurs as a result of deficiency. Studies have in fact also shown correlations between increased niacin intake and lower risks for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

There is evidence that niacin can help to lower the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, although results have been mixed. However niacin may well play a role in reducing memory loss and other age related brain disorders that result in cognitive decline. 

Some studies have found the taking niacin may help stroke patients. When rats with ischemic stroke were given niacin, their brains grew new blood vessels, according to researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan

Additionally, niacin has been correlated with a decreased risk for many problems regarding poor brain function or loss of age-related thinking skills. This includes migraine headaches, chronic brain syndrome, depression, motion sickness, insomnia, and even alcohol dependence

Muscles & Joints

Some research shows that Vitamin B3 in the form of niacinamide can be effective in increasing joint mobility. Studies correlate niacin intake with lower levels of joint pain, enhanced muscle strength, and fewer symptoms associated with muscle or joint fatigue.
Prescribed high doses of niacinamide has been seen in studies to improve flexibility and reduce swelling, allowing some people who take niacinamide to be able to cut down on standard painkillers or medications for arthritis. 

As a treatment for osteoarthritis or bone and joint pain, niacin is normally prescribed in high doses for its anti-inflammatory effects. Reducing inflammation helps to lower the occurrence of symptoms of arthritis and to rebuild the joint cartilage that is crucial to mobility and strength.

Diabetes 

Vitamin B3 niacin may be helpful for treating diabetes because of the role it plays in balancing blood sugar levels. It’s believed that vitamin B3 in the form of niacinamide can help improve the efficiency of certain oral drug treatments that are used to control diabetes.

It’s important to note however that niacin is suspected for possibly contributing to complications with rising blood sugar levels, so if you have any known condition related to high glucose in the blood, speak with your doctor before supplementing with any form of Vitamin B3 niacin to avoid unwanted niacin side effects.

Skin Care

Niacin helps protect skin cells from sun damage, whether it’s used orally or applied to the skin in lotions. Some recent research suggests it may help prevent some types of skin cancer.

A 2015 study found that taking 500 mg of nicotinamide twice daily reduced rates of non-melanoma skin cancer among people at a high risk of skin cancer.

It may be good for other skin conditions, too. In a double-blind trial by the State University of New York, the topical application of a 4 percent niacinamide gel twice a day for two months resulted in a similar acne improvement when compared to 1 percent clindamycin gel. 

Cholesterol 

Niacin, but not niacinamide, has been used since the 1950s to modestly lower elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride (fat) levels in the blood. As a cholesterol treatment, there are good studies showing that niacin can boost levels of good HDL cholesterol also. It’s often prescribed in combination with statins for cholesterol control, such as Crestor, Lescol, or Lipitor. However, side effects can be unpleasant and even dangerous. 
 
Niacin is only effective as a cholesterol treatment at fairly high doses. These doses could pose risks, such as liver damage, gastrointestinal problems, or glucose intolerance. So don’t treat yourself with over-the-counter niacin supplements and speak with a doctor first. 

Deficiency & Recommend Daily Allowance 

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.

Symptoms of mild B3 deficiency include:

Indigestion

Fatigue

Canker sores

Vomiting

Poor circulation

Depression
The NHS says the amount of niacin you need is about:

16.5mg a day for men 

13.2mg a day for women 

You should be able to get all the niacin you need from your daily diet and as niacin can’t be stored in the body, so you need it in your diet every day.

Sources 

See below’s quality sources of niacin, and how many Grams are provided;

1. Beef Liver 
3 oz: 14.2 mg 
2. Chicken Breast
3 oz: 12.3 mg 
3. Tuna
1 can (about 3 oz.): 11.3 mg 
4. Sunflower Seeds
1 cup: 9 mg 
5. Grass Fed Beef
3 oz: 9 mg 
6. Lamb
3 oz cooked: 6.9 mg 
7. Salmon
3 0z: 6.7 mg 
8. Split Green Peas
1 cup oz: 5.7 mg 
9. Sardines
1 can in olive oil: 4.8 mg 
10. Turkey
3 oz: 4 mg 
11. Mushrooms
1 cup white button mushrooms: 2.5 mg
12. Tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 Tbsp: 2.2 mg 

Beware

Taking high doses of nicotinic acid supplements can cause skin flushes. Taking high doses for a long time could lead to liver damage.

There’s not enough evidence to know what the effects might be of taking high daily doses of nicotinamide supplements

 There are other studies reporting a host of issues with taking niacin in high doses, from muscle pain, digestive distress, and skin inflammation. 

All of this being said, niacin has many useful benefits and is still commonly prescribed today despite the possibility for experiencing certain niacin side effects. 

Consuming B vitamins together in a quality B Vitamin Complex supplement also allows them to work better in the body, since the B vitamins interact with one another to make absorption and conversion possible.  

Alrighty, a pretty comprehensive guide to vitamin B3, hope you enjoyed! Till the next time 

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