Subscribe to our Newsletter:
Healthy Diet Plans >>  Dietary Supplements >>  Niacin


Vitamin B3 or niacin is one of the B-complex vitamins found in many foods and is essential for health. Niacin is required for energy metabolism, regulating the blood sugar levels, is required for the synthesis of tryptophan, as it is a precursor to this amino acid (tryptophan is converted to niacin in the body) and also helps to keep the digestive system healthy. The dietary sources of niacin include milk, fish, egg, meat, whole grains, green vegetables and yeast. Recommended niacin requirements are based on daily caloric intake that is 6.6 mg per 1000 calories or 19 mg per day for men and 15 mg per day for women. Inadequate dietary amounts of niacin or tryptophan may lead to niacin deficiency called pellagra.
Nicotinamide and niacin are well known treatment to correct the deficiency and reduce the symptoms of pellagra that includes skin disease, diarrhea, dementia and depression.

Niacin supplements are available in three forms and all these three forms of niacin have specific therapeutic effect – niacinamide, nicotinic acid and inositol hexaniacinate.
Niacin can be used as a secondary treatment for high cholesterol reduction as multiple studies show that niacin may have significant benefits on HDL cholesterol (increases high density lipoprotein) and decreases LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein) marginally. Besides cholesterol, niacin may also decrease lipoprotein (a) and fibrinogen which may help to slow the process of atherosclerosis and other heart diseases. But on the contrary niacin may also increase homocysteine levels that can pose a risk for the same. Thus for cholesterol reduction and heart condition, niacin should be used in combination with other drugs.

People suffering form osteoarthritis may get benefits form niacinamide, as it has significant inflammatory properties and help to reduce inflammation in the joints of these people. Niacin may help to increase blood flow and relax arteries and veins and thus can be beneficial in the treatment of circulatory problems like tinnitus, Raynaud’s disease. Niacin also affects the nervous system, thus can be used to treat depression, anxiety and panic disorders.

Niacin supplements when taken in recommended doses are generally considered safe, however some niacin side effects if taken for long duration include nausea, vomiting, cramps, dizziness and skin flushing. More severe side effects include liver toxicity, altered insulin or blood sugar levels, worsening stomach ulcers, abnormal heart rhythms and increased homocysteine levels.

Niacin supplements should be taken with the meals, they may also interact with some drugs, herbal or dietary supplements. So it is advisable to take niacin supplements in recommended amounts under the guidance of a health care professional.

Submitted on January 16, 2014