convert carbohydrates into glucose (sugar), which is then "burned" to produce
energy. B vitamins are often referred to as B-complex vitamins and are essential in
the metabolism of fats and protein. They are necessary for maintaining muscle tone
in the gastrointestinal tract and promoting the health of the nervous system, skin,
hair, eyes, mouth, and liver.
Niacin is also needed for DNA repair. It plays an important role in ridding the body of
toxic and harmful chemicals. Niacin helps the body to make various sex and
stress-related hormones in the adrenal glands and other parts of the body. Studies
show that niacin is also effective in improving circulation and reducing cholesterol
levels in the blood.
Deficiency of Niacin:
Severe lack of niacin causes the deficiency disease called pellagra. Pellagra can result
in the weakening of the liver and groin area. If left untreated, Pellagra can kill within 4
or 5 years. However, if the disease is treated, it can be cured.
Niacin deficiency affects the skin, digestive system, and the nervous system. The
symptoms of pellagra include high sensitivity to sunlight, aggression, dermatitis, red
skin lesions, insomnia, weakness, mental confusion, diarrhea, and dementia
(eventually). Symptoms of mild niacin deficiency include indigestion, vomiting,
fatigue, canker sores, and depression.
Note: A variety of medical conditions can lead to the symptoms mentioned above. Therefore, it is
important to have a physician evaluate them so that appropriate medical care can be given.
Toxicity (Niacin Overdose):
Niacin from natural, unfortified foods is not known to cause adverse effects. One
study noted adverse effects from the consumption of bagels that had been fortified
with 60 times the normal amount of niacin fortification. Most reported cases of
adverse effects have been due to ingestion of high doses of pharmacologic
preparations of niacin. High doses of niacin supplements can cause side effects. The
most common side effect is called "niacin flush," which is a burning, tingling sensation
in the face and chest, and red or "flushed" skin. Taking very high doses of niacin
supplements can also cause liver damage and stomach ulcers to occur. Taking any
one of the B complex vitamins for a long period of time can cause an imbalance of
the other important B vitamins. To avoid the imbalance, it is recommended that you
take a B complex vitamin instead of isolating any single B vitamin.
Caution: Eating natural foods that are high in niacin is the safest and healthiest way
to get an adequate supply of the nutrient. Due to risk of toxicity, individuals should
always consult with a knowledgeable health care provider before starting doses of
supplements. Before giving supplements to children, it is recommended that you first
consult with their pediatrician. Also, some supplements may interfere with
medications. If you are taking medication, it is recommended that you consult with
your physician before taking any supplements. All supplements should be kept in
childproof bottles and out of children's reach.
Niacin Food Chart (List of Foods High in Niacin):
Tuna, light, packed in water, 3 ounces - (11.3 mg)
Salmon, chinook, cooked, 3 ounces - (8.5 mg)
Chicken, light meat, cooked without skin, 3 ounces - (7.3 mg)
Turkey, light meat, cooked without skin, 3 ounces - (5.8 mg)
Peanuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce - (3.8 mg)
Beef, lean, cooked, 3 ounces - (3.1 mg)
Pasta, enriched, cooked, 1 cup - (2.3 mg)
Lentils, cooked, 1 cup - (2.1 mg)
Lima beans, cooked, 1 cup - (1.8 mg)
Bread, whole wheat, 1 slice - (1.3 mg)
Coffee, brewed, 1 cup - (0.5 mg)
American Dietetic Association: Complete Food And Nutrition Guide (2nd Edition)
Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, FADA, CFCS
Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs and More
Pamela Wartian Smith, MD, MPH
University of Maryland Medical Center - umm.edu
Linus Pauling Institute - oregonstate.edu
Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia
Eating foods that are high in
niacin can help to prevent
conditions such as cancer and
Foods high in niacin include:
meat, poultry, red fish, legumes,
What is Niacin?
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3,
is a water-soluble vitamin.
Function of Niacin:
The B vitamins work together to
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