Niacin may appear as nicotinic acid and nicotinamide which are obtained directly from food. It can also be obtained from tryptophan an amino acid that the body gets with the help of B vitamins from food proteins.
- Along with pyridoxine and riboflavin, to maintain the nervous system in good state.
- To improve the circulation when relaxing the blood vessels.
- It works, along with other vitamins of the complex B in the maintenance of the skin.
- So that the digestive mucous are in good state.
- To stabilize the sugar levels in the blood.
Problems caused by the lack of niacin
A serious deficiency of this vitamin is pronounced mainly in the form of serious alterations of the health:
- Pellagra: It is a disease produced by the lack of niacin. Until the mid-twentieth century it constituted a world-wide plague. A society that based its power on the consumption of maize, lacking tryptophan and with little niacin, developed a disease characterized by the poor condition of the skin (dark skin, dry, scaly skin with itchy feeling when you sunbathe), in addition to intestinal mucosal inflammation, diarrhea and in severe cases, dementia.
At first it was thought that this disease was caused by some kind of germ until it was discovered that had its origin in a food shortage: a lack of niacin in the diet. Today is virtually eradicated in the developed world but remains a scourge in Africa and Asia.
- Nerve Problems: Small deficiencies of niacin can be manifested as alterations of the nervous system, like nervousness, anxiety, depression, insomnia, irritability and, in more serious cases, in the form of dementia.
- Digestive Problems: The lack of this vitamin can be manifested as inflammations of the digestive apparatus that are translated in diarrhoea, intestinal malaise, indigestion, itching in the rectum, thickening of the tongue and mouth sores.
A smaller deficiency is pronounced in the form of:
- General discomfort with weakness, lack of interest and indiscriminate general pain.
Where can it be found?
- Animal sources of niacin: The main direct source animals are beef, chicken, lamb or pork. Liver is particularly rich. The fish, especially tuna, is also a rich source.
These same sources are also rich in tryptophan from which the body produces too niacin. This component is responsible for half of our food niacin. Milk or milk products (yogurt, custard, cheese, etc..) and eggs are rich in tryptophan.
- Niacin Supplements: Besides food, they can get this vitamin through supplements in the form of capsules or tablets. There nicotinic acid supplements of niacinamide hexaniacinate and inositol.
Medicinal properties of the niacin
Normally a varied diet is sufficient to meet the daily demands of this vitamin. There are however some situations where it may be necessary to increase the daily dose. Supplementation of this vitamin, under strict medical supervision, may be appropriate.
Among all situations we would mention the following:
- It helps to to improve circulatory system: Niacin produces relaxation of blood vessels which increases the elasticity of them and improves circulation.
Supplementation of niacin is interesting in diseases that are caused by poor circulation, such as poor circulation in the legs or poor circulation in their hands. (1,500 mg inositol hexaniacinate split into 3 doses per day)
- It is useful to reduce cholesterol: It has been shown that niacin can raise levels of good cholesterol and lowers levels of "bad cholesterol." so it prevents the formation of blood clots (1500 mg inositol hexaniacinate split into 3 doses daily for a maximum of 60 days. Failure to leave the treatment effect.)
- It improves arthritis: The use of niacin supplements to shrink the joints of rheumatoid arthritis patients, even to recover the damaged joints. (3000 mg of niacin a day, divided into 3 doses. See toxicity)
- It stops the development of diabetes: Niacin, as niacinamide, can inhibit the development of diabetes mellitus or type I diabetes when given at the beginning of the disease. The use of this element in other types of diabetes aggravates this disease.
- It improves the tinnitus: The niacin supplementation appears to improve this disease in some patients. (150 mg of niacin Manage divided into three daily doses before meals)
Daily requirement of niacin
The following table shows the minimum amounts recommended.
Recommended amount of niacin (B3 vitamin) in mcg (micrograms)
Less than 6 months
Of 6 months to 1 year
Of 1 to 3 years
Of 4 to 6 years
7 to 10 years
Men of 11 to 14 years
Men of 15 to 18 years
Men of 19 to 50 years
Men of more than 50 years
Women of 11 to 50 years
Women of more than 50 years
Women during the pregnancy
Toxicity of Vitamin B3
Niacin supplements should only be taken under strict medical supervision. Nicotinic acid, even at therapeutic levels, can cause stomach problems, skin redness and damage to the liver.
It may also be damage to the liver with high doses of niacinamide. Inositol hexaniacinate no redness or affects the liver. Anyway, if you use any of these supplements it is necessary for the doctor to monitor the treatment that, among other precautions, involves regular checks on the status of this organ.
Signs of poisoning from these supplements are: generalized itching, elevated blood sugar, liver disease, recurrence or aggravation of ulcers.
The combined use of supplements niacin with antihypertensive drugs may cause hypotension.
Do not take these supplements in case of diabetes or gout.