Vitamin B 3 - Niacin

Vitamin B3 or Niacin ,one of the water soluble Vitamins, is also known by the names Nicotinic acid and Vitamin PP.

What does this Vitamin do for us:

    * Help lower cholesterol levels
    * Stabilize the blood sugar
    * Support genetic processes in the cells
    * Help the body process fats


Niacin deficiency is not seen in the developed countries but can be seen where poverty, malnutrition and chronic alcoholism are prevalent.

It is also seen in places where maize is the staple food.[Maize is low in niacin and is the only grain that is deficient of this Vitamin.]

The deficiency can be seen when there is a dietary deficiency of the Vitamin.

Hartnups’ disease is a condition where there is a defective tryptophan absorption which also leads to Niacin deficiency.

Effects of Niacin:

The deficiency of Niacin causes Pellagra. It is characterized by inflamed skin, mental impairment and digestive disturbances.Advanced pellagra can be seen as symmetric photosensitive rash, stomatitis, glossitis,diarrhea and mental disturbances. As the deficiency progresses, the tongue and oral mucous membranes become reddened, which can be very painful, increased salivation, and edema[swelling] of the tongue. Ulcerations under the tongue is common, as well as on the mucosa of the lower lip, and opposite the molar teeth.

The skin also is subjected to lesions.Pellagrous gloves[Glove like distribution of lesions in the hand] and Pellagrous boots[boot shaped distribution of the lesions in the feet/legs].Sunlight causes Casal’s necklace on the neck.

Gastro Intestinal disturbances may be manifested as abdominal discomfort and distention.Constipation is also seen.Nausea,vomiting and later on bloody diarrhea is also present.

When the nervous system is affected  pschosis, loss of consciousness, dementia can be seen.Symptoms like excitement,depression,mania,delirium may be predominant.

These symptoms can be summed up by the 4 ‘D’‘s –Dermatitis, Diarrhea , Dementia and Death.

Overdose of Niacin causes Liver damage ,peptic ulcer ,skin rashes. It is sometimes prescribed for elevated blood cholesterol levels and at that time it must be taken under strict medical supervision only.

Food Sources of Niacin

•   Good sources include Beef liver,tuna, salmon , halibut ,mushroom, ,venison,organ meats and chicken.
•   Dairy products
•   Nuts and seeds
•   Eggs
•   Yeast
•   Milk,green leafy vegetables,carrot,celery,turnip provide some amount of this Vitamin
•  Legumes, cereals and enriched breads supply a small dose of Niacin.

To retain Niacin in the vegetables, cook in minimal water.The meat must be roasted / broiled.


This article is NOT a medical advise.DO NOT take supplements without consulting your Physician.

Healthy eating,Happy living...