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What Does Vitamin B3 Do

Deficiency Symptoms And Causes

The Lowdown on Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) – What is Niacinamide? Does Niacinamide fix acne?

A deficiency in niacin is generally uncommon in developed countries where malnutrition is rare. Some of the most common causes of deficiency include alcoholism, malnutrition, digestive disorders and prolonged use of certain medications that interfere with absorption.

Clinical symptoms of a vitamin B3 deficiency are usually categorized as the 4 Ds: dermatitis , diarrhea, dementia and death. Diagnosis is usually clinical, and dietary supplementation with high doses of niacin is generally successful is resolving symptoms.

When a niacin deficiency is seen, the following are some of the most common signs and symptoms:

  • Pellagra characterized by skin inflammation, hallucinations, digestive distress. Usually occurs in malnourished people or those with alcoholism and can include rash, stomatitis, diarrhea and mental problems.
  • Mucous membrane swelling symptoms that affect the mouth, vagina and urethra tongue can cause pain in the mouth, increased salivation, swelling of the tongue and ulcers.
  • Skin symptoms, including several types of lesions.
  • Digestive disturbances symptoms include burning in the pharynx and esophagus, stomach discomfort, constipation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Brain impairment and psychosis some studies have found a link between niacin and depression, impaired consciousness, cognitive decline, disorientation, confusion, mania or paranoia.

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Niacin Benefits And Its Side Effects

Niacin, or vitamin B3, is one of the essential B-complex water-soluble vitamins that the body needs to turn food into energy. All of the vitamins and minerals are important for optimal health, but niacin is especially good for the nervous and digestive systems. Lets take a more in-depth look to better understand niacin benefits and its side effects.

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Niacin Flush Benefits To Treat Pellagra

As noted above, pellagra is a very rare health condition that can result from a deficiency of vitamin B3. For most healthy people, pellagra is extremely unlikely, and the risk generally applies to alcohol abusers or people living with HIV/AIDS.

If youre suffering from one of these conditions and are interested in looking into treating it with niacinsuch treatment is approved by the FDAconsult with a physician.

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It May Improve Mental Health

Dietary habits have a significant influence on many mental disorders including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. This has led to the development of nutritional guidelines to help manage these conditions. Niacin deficiency has shown a possible link to some mental disorders.

Studies have documented reduced cerebral blood flow in depressed patients and improved cerebral blood flow following antidepressant treatment. Niacin is believed to increase cerebral blood flow, so there is potential to use niacin supplementation along with prescription antidepressants.

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Vitamin B3 In People With Low Immunity

Does Vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) help prevent skin cancer?

Early studies show that vitamin B3 seems to protect people with poor immunity against basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and solar keratoses . This has been specifically researched in organ transplant recipients, but the findings may also apply to people with low immunity due to immune-suppressing medications and diseases affecting the immune system such as some types of leukaemia .

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It May Lower Blood Pressure

Small clinical trials of using niacin have shown it has significant blood pressure lowering effects in people with hypertension. Additionally, sudden lowering of blood pressure is described in the package insert of prescription niacin. However, in larger clinical trials involving niacin and niacin-containing regimens there showed either no clear significant effects of niacin or slightly lower mean blood pressure among some niacin treatment groups compared with placebo.

More studies need to be done to determine how effective niacin can be for lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of cardiovascular events, but so far the research seems promising.

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Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Hendrix, C. R., Housh, T. J., Mielke, M., Zuniga, J. M., Camic, C. L., Johnson, G. O., Schmidt, R. J., and Housh, D. J. Acute effects of a caffeine-containing supplement on bench press and leg extension strength and time to exhaustion during cycle ergometry. J Strength.Cond.Res 2010 24:859-865. View abstract.

Urberg, M., Benyi, J., and John, R. Hypocholesterolemic effects of nicotinic acid and chromium supplementation. J Fam.Pract. 1988 27:603-606. View abstract.

– Blankenhorn DH, Malinow MR, Mack WJ. Colestipol plus niacin therapy elevates plasma homocysteine levels. Coron Art Dis 1991 2:357-360.

Alhadeff L, Gualtieri CT, Lipton M. Toxic effects of water-soluble vitamins. Nutr Rev. 1984 42:33-40. View abstract.

Ali EH, McJunkin B, Jubelirer S, Hood W. Niacin induced coagulopathy as a manifestation of occult liver injury. W V Med J. 2013 Jan-Feb 109:12-4 View abstract.

American Dietetic Association Website. Available at: www.eatright.org/adap1097.html .

American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. ASHP Therapeutic Position Statement on the safe use of niacin in the management of dyslipidemias. Am J Health Syst Pharm 1997 54:2815-9. View abstract.

Andersson RG, Aberg G, Brattsand R, Ericsson E, Lundholm L. Studies on the mechanism of flush induced by nicotinic acid. Acta Pharmacol Toxicol . 1977 Jul 41:1-10. View abstract.

Anon. Niacinamide Monograph. Alt Med Rev 2002 7:525-9. View abstract.

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What Happens If I Consume Too Much Niacin

Its not possible to overdose on niacin through your diet, but you can if you take too many supplements, for example taking a multivitamin and a separate B-complex.

Too much nicotinic acid can cause itching or flushing skin, and, over time, may lead to liver damage.

Theres not enough research to show what happens if you take too much nicotinamide.16

The NHS says taking less than 17mg of nicotinic acid, or less than 500mg of nicotinamide, a day is not likely to cause any harm.17

Is Niacinamide The Same As Niacin

What does Vitamin B3 actually do?

Nope! Although we get why you’d be confused. Niacinamide and niacin are both forms of vitamin B3, but they differ in chemical structure. Each form is good for specific applications, like niacin for dietary health and niacinamide for encouraging gorgeous skin! Pro tip: Niacin can cause the skin to flush, so be sure that you’re buying a product with the right ingredient.

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Nicotinamide/niacinimide Vs Nicotinic Acid

However, here is one common misconception when it comes to B3 and its monikers: “Nicotinamide is a specific amide form of B3. It’s not niacin, the acid form of this vitamin. Niacin is much more easily found at the drugstore but has the unpleasant side effect of flushing that nicotinamide doesn’t have.” Not into a red face? Make sure to scan your ingredient lists, and don’t assume that despite the lack of “-amide” it’s still the same ingredient.

How To Take B Vitamins Together

For most people, vitamin B3 can usually be obtained through a healthy diet in high enough amounts to meet your daily needs. However, if you are considering supplementation for a quick and easy way to bump up your intake, be sure to look for a high-quality supplement that is made using whole food sources. Not only does this allow your body to better absorb and utilize these nutrients, but it can also reduce the risk of unwanted vitamin B complex side effects.

Taking a B complex is a great option to ensure youre meeting your needs for the entire array of B vitamins that your body needs. 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 help optimize digestion and absorption.

B vitamins can be beneficial in supporting metabolism and promoting heart, brain, muscle and joint health, but remember that its always preferable to consume plenty of whole foods that naturally contain all the vitamins and minerals you need instead. Try enjoying high-quality cuts of meat, including free-range and grass-fed poultry and beef, fish, beans, nuts and seeds, in order to make sure youre getting your daily fix of B vitamins. Unlike supplementation, eating plenty of foods that contain niacin should not result in levels high enough to cause any harmful niacin side effects.

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The Benefits Of Vitamin B3

In short, itâs incredibly restorative. âNicotinamide helps restore cellular energy, repair damaged DNA, and reduce the immunosuppressive effects of sun-induced UV rays.â With a fountain of youth likeness, Herrmann compares vitamin B3 to that of a âwell-oiled machine,â fighting off internal and external stressors that can ultimately lead to the deterioration or breakdown of our skin and premature signs of aging like discoloration and wrinkles.

Concerning brightness specifically, she tells us: âNicotinamide has been shown to prevent the transfer of pigment within the skin, which can help reduce brown spots.â Less redness , preserved hydration, a strengthened skin barrier, and the improved synthesis of healthy fats are other benefits cited by Herrmann.

âI recommend it for my sensitive skin patients, or those with other conditions such as rosacea or eczema,â Nazarian tells us. âIt can also be found in sunscreens, such as Elta MD UV Clear, and is a good option for people who are concerned about irritation from their skincare products or have difficulty using creams due to allergies. The oral version can also be used to treat acneand is great when oral medications such as antibiotics arent well tolerated.â

Liz deSousa for BYRDIE

Vitaminutes: What Is Vitamin B3

Does Vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) help prevent skin cancer?

Throughout the Vitaminutes series, weve looked at Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vitamin K. Today were tackling Vitamin B3, what it is and why you need it.

What it does

Vitamin B3 comprises niacin, also known as niacin or nicotinic acid, and niacinamide, and promotes overall health. Like other B vitamins, it helps the body convert food into energy, and is good for a healthy brain, nervous system and even skin.

Its used to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, and some researchers have found it useful in alleviating arthritis pain and stiffness. Possible other uses include prevention of atherosclerosis, Alzheimers disease and cataracts.

Where to find it

You can derive B3 from from meat, fish and poultry, as well as eggs, whole grains, green vegetables, beans and peanut butter, according to the National Institutes of Healths National Library of Medicine.

Both niacin and niacinamide are forms of B3 your body can make niacinamide from miacin, or from tryptophan . Both are available as supplements and sometimes used interchangeably, but not always if using a supplement, consult a doctor.

How much you need

Vitamin B3 is among the water-soluble vitamins, meaning it is not stored in the bodys fat tissues. You need to take in enough daily to sustain functions. Your recommended daily intake: 16 milligrams for adult males and 14 mg for adult females.

If you dont get enough

The last word

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Niacin Side Effects Interactions And Concerns

Many studies to date have examined the efficacy, safety, adverse effects and pharmacologic properties of niacin. While more research is still needed to draw definite conclusions, some initial studies indicate that niacin can be hard to tolerate for some people, which may result in several undesirable niacin side effects.

When weighing the positive attributes of taking niacin with the potential niacin side effects, researchers have found that vitamin B3, when used alone or combined with other drugs or supplements, has favorable effects, especially when it comes to heart health. However, because of the unusual range of possible niacin side effects, doctors recommend that supplementation should be taken only as directed and preferably under medical supervision for those with underlying health conditions.

If youre eating foods rich in niacin, the chances of adverse side effects are very slim. Taking high doses of supplements, on the other hand, can cause a wide range of possible symptoms, including:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Stomach or intestinal ulcers

Other medications that are often taken with niacin, contain niacin or interact with niacin include colestipol, laropiprant, lovastatin, simvastatin and inositol hexanicotinate. If you are taking any of these medications, experience any adverse side effects or have any concerns, be sure to talk with your doctor to determine the best dosage and course of treatment for you.

How To Take It

Generally, high doses of niacin are used to control specific diseases. Such high doses must be prescribed by a doctor who will increase the amount of niacin slowly, over the course of 4 to 6 weeks. Take niacin with meals to avoid stomach irritation.

Daily recommendations for niacin in the diet of healthy individuals are:


  • Men, 19 years and older: 16 mg
  • Women, 19 years and older: 14 mg
  • Pregnant women: 18 mg
  • Breastfeeding women: 17 mg

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What Is A Niacin Flush

What is niacin? Niacin or vitamin B3 is an essential vitamin we should all be getting in our diets on a daily basis. According to current USDA standards, adults and children over the age of four should consume about 16 milligrams of B3 per day. What is niacin used for? At significantly higher doses it is used to treat hyperlipidemia or high cholesterol and lower the risk of cardiovascular health concerns.

Vitamin B3 is one of eight B vitamins. This B3 vitamin is also commonly known as as niacin or nicotinic acid. There are also two other forms of the vitamin, niacinamide and inositol hexanicotinate, but these versions have different effects from niacin.

Niacin, or vitamin B3, can naturally be obtained in the diet. Foods high in niacin include things like grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, lamb, salmon, sardines, sunflower seeds and tahini. This B vitamin can also be obtained by supplementing with niacin pills. Like the other B vitamins, niacin is water-soluble rather than fat-soluble, which means that the body does not store it.

What does niacin do? Like the other B vitamin, niacin or B3 helps our bodies convert the food we eat into usable fuel. More specifically, niacin also helps the body to produce key sex hormones as well as stress-related hormones in the adrenal glands and other parts of the body. Niacin benefits also include the vitamins ability to decrease inflammation and boost blood circulation.

Health Benefits Of Niacin

The importance of taking Vitamin B3 | The Check Up
  • Protect Against Heart Disease – Niacin is prescribed pharmacologically to lower LDL fats and triglycerides by preventing the breakdown of fats into these individual components. Niacin consumed at such high levels can cause rashes, headaches, nausea, and diarrhea. Consult your doctor before taking niacin supplements in high doses.
  • Regulation of Blood Sugar and Insulin Dependence – Studies suggest that vitamin B3 can help decrease insulin sensitivity, however, other studies find no difference. Niacin has also been shown to help alleviate some of the destructive autoimmune reactions of type I diabetes, and further studies are being conducted to assess its effectiveness.
  • Reduced Cancer Risk – Studies show that niacin reduces cancer risk by ensuring DNA integrity and maintenance, and through proper regulation of the tumor suppressor gene: p53.
  • Slow the progression of AIDS – An observational study has reported slowing the progression of AIDS and increasing survival with high doses of niacin.

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Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

Healthcare workers, including nurse practitioners and clinicians, should not empirically encourage patients to take niacin. It is only recommended if there is a deficiency. For hyperlipidemia management, the vitamin often causes intolerable side effects, and its use is declining. The majority of the public should be encouraged to eat fresh fruit and vegetable to obtain their niacin. Reliance on supplements is not recommended because of fake and counterfeit products.

The clinician initiates the therapy with niacin for pellagra or dyslipidemia. Here, excellent communication between clinician, nurse, pharmacist, and dietician is necessary. For dyslipidemia leading to coronary artery disease, a referral to a cardiologist may be necessary. Pharmacists will verify the dosing based on the condition and counsel the patients regarding the adverse drug reactions. For example, It is sometimes recommended to take a baby aspirin before dosing niacin to help prevent flushing. The nurse should counsel the patient on what to expect with niacin therapy and monitor compliance and treatment effectiveness. The clinical dietician can design a patient-centered diet plan to improve dyslipidemia and pellagra. Thus, with an interprofessional collaborative team approach, niacin therapy can deliver optimal therapeutic results with minimal adverse effects to the patient.

What Is Niacinamide Where Is It From

Niacinamide, which also goes by nicotinamide when it’s feeling fancy, is one of two forms of vitamin B3. The other is niacin, and while the two sound similar, they are chemically different.

Niacinamide can be found in many foods, including meat, fish, milk, green veggies, avocados and cereal grains. It’s also packed into many vitamin B complex supplements alongside its good friends biotin and folic acid. Our bodies can use dietary niacin to create niacinamide inside us, too.

When it comes to skincare products, niacinamide pops up in everything from sunscreen and lotions to facial serums. That’s thanks to its ability to perform amazing feats like even texture, brighten and strengthen skin, and diminish dullness. It’s basically a skincare saint!

Of course, we’re big fans of vitamin B3 for skin over here, which is why you’ll find niacinamide in our Eyes Eyes Baby eye cream! And don’t stress, vegans, because niacinamide is commonly derived from cereals or brewers yeast, not animals.

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Could Promote Good Digestion And Gut Health

Vitamin B3 is critical for many digestive functionsthe breakdown of carbs, fats, and alcoholand keeping your GI tract happy. Low levels of vitamin B3 in the diet can cause an upset digestive system, and a severe deficiency can result in a disease called pellagra, which causes diarrhea, vomiting, and other serious symptoms.

Preliminary research links vitamin B3 to digestive ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome, but further research is warranted. In the meantime, know that human studies looking at treatment with high supplemental doses of nicotinic acid has been associated with ulcers in the digestive tract. So for now, focus on eating quality food sources of vitamin B3, and donât self-treat with supplements unless you consult with a doctor.


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