What is Vitamin B3 (Niacin)?


Vitamin B3 (also known as Niacin) is a water-soluble vitamin. The body does not store this vitamin and it does not take fat to assimilate it into the body unlike some other vitamins. When this vitamin is not used completely in the body, it is excreted through the urine. A person needs a steady dietary supply of this vitamin for this reason. 

Function of Vitamin B3 in the Body 

Niacin helps the nerves, skin and digestive system perform their various functions. In addition, the same as many of the other B vitamins it helps the body convert food into much needed energy. This feature of the vitamin is extremely important to active people such as athletes, bodybuilders and other fitness-minded people. However, all people need a certain amount of energy to get through their daily lives. 

Food Sources of Vitamin B3 

This vitamin is found any many foods such as the following ones: 

  • Poultry 
  • Eggs 
  • Legumes 
  • Dairy products 
  • Nuts 
  • Lean meats 
  • Fish 

Side Effects of too Little Vitamin B3 

When the body is deficient in Niacin, pellagra can occur, which has the following symptoms: 

  • Inflamed skin 
  • Digestive issues 
  • Impaired mental functioning 

Side Effects of too much Vitamin B3 

The body having too much Niacin can cause the following issues: 

  • Increased glucose levels in the blood 
  • Skin rashes 
  • Peptic ulcers 
  • Damage to the liver 

With any dosage of B3 there can be a normal flushing effect felt by the skin. If a person takes the nicotinamide form on this vitamin, he or she will not feel the flushing effects. 

The Daily Recommended Dose of Vitamin B3 

There are very specific dosage recommendations for Niacin based on age. These are listed below beginning with adults. 

Adult men and teen boys over the age of 14 years should get 16mg of B3 each day, while adult women and teen girls over the age of 14 years should get 14mg of this vitamin each day. 

The dosage for children is as follows: 

  • 1 to 3 years old needs 6mg each day 
  • 4 to 8 years old needs 8mg each day 
  • 9 to 13 years old needs 12mg each day 

For infants the dosage is even less with ages 0 to 6 months old needing 2mg on a daily basis, while ages 7 to 12 months old needing 4mg on a daily basis. 

Of course, these dosage recommendations are averages and a doctor may advise differently according to the individual’s health. Always turn to foods for vitamin B3 first, and only use supplements when absolutely necessary.


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