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Nutrition-Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Nutrition Home: Vitamins

vitamin b3 - niacin

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B3 is also called niacin. Like all the B-complex vitamins, it is important for converting calories from protein, fat and carbohydrates into energy. But it also helps the digestive system function and promotes a normal appetite and healthy skin and nerves.

Larger doses of niacin—sometimes more than 1,000 milligrams a day—have also been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (the 'bad' cholesterol that clogs the heart's arteries) and triglycerides and raise HDL cholesterol (the 'good' cholesterol that prevents hardening of the artery walls). However, you should only take increased doses of niacin under the supervision of a physician.

Nutritionists categorize vitamins by the materials that a vitamin will dissolve in. There are two categories: water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins, which include the B-complex group and vitamin C, travel through the bloodstream. Whatever water-soluble vitamins are not used by the body are eliminated in urine, which means you need a continuous supply of them in your food. Vitamin B3 is a water-soluble vitamin.


Other Vitamins:

How Much Vitamin B3 Is Enough?
Women should have 15 milligrams each day and men should have 15 to 19 milligrams each day. Tryptophan is an amino acid that serves as a Vitamin B3 equivalent. Sixty milligrams of tryptophan is equal to 1 milligram of vitamin B3.

Sources of Vitamin B3

  • Meat, poultry, fish
  • Peanuts
  • Yeasts
  • Milk and eggs contain small amounts, but are excellent sources of tryptophan

Can You Have Too Much or Too Little?
The first signs of a vitamin B3 deficiency are muscular weakness, inability to eat, indigestion and skin problems. In its worst form, a deficiency results in pellagra, which is a serious disease with symptoms such as diarrhea, mental confusion and skin problems.

Vitamin Storage
If you want to get the most vitamins possible from your food, refrigerate fresh produce and keep milk and grains away from strong light. Vitamins are easily destroyed and washed out during food preparation and storage. If you take vitamin supplements, store them at room temperature in a dry place that’s free of moisture.


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