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Niacin (Nicotinic Acid)

Niacin (Nicotinic Acid)

Niacin (Nicotinic Acid)

Niacin (Nicotinic Acid or Vitamin B3), as part of the B-complex vitamins, plays a pivotal role in converting food into energy. These vitamins are vital for maintaining a healthy liver, skin, hair, eyes, and nervous system. All B vitamins are water-soluble and do not remain stored in the body for long, so regular intake is required to uphold their health-supporting levels. This article will delve into the specifics of niacin, including its benefits, functionality, side effects, food sources, and dosage guidelines.

What is Vitamin B3?

Also known as niacin, Vitamin B3 is crucial for sustaining overall health and well-being. As a water-soluble vitamin, it doesn't stay stored in the body for long periods, thus necessitating consistent intake. Niacin primarily contributes to energy production, cognitive function, and regulating blood fat levels and blood pressure.

As part of the essential vitamin B-complex group, niacinamide and nicotinic acid upholds our health in two forms. Both variants of Vitamin B3 can be converted into a co-enzyme that takes part in several biochemical reactions (1).


How Does Niacin Work?

Niacin plays a critical role in digestive processes and metabolic reactions, acting as a precursor for two significant co-enzymes, namely nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). These co-enzymes are integral to numerous metabolic processes, including digestion, cell signalling, immune defence, cellular function, and energy synthesis reactions. Niacin facilitates the utilisation of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins to produce glucose, the body's primary energy source.

NAD and NADP are essential components of the biochemical machinery that underpin the body's vitality and overall function. Niacin also functions as an antioxidant, managing inflammatory reactions in the body. Various oxidative radicals, produced as byproducts during metabolic reactions, are neutralised by niacin through its antioxidative activity. One of the key roles of niacin includes DNA repair, a process that helps maintain the integrity of a cell's genetic material.

 

Benefits Offered by Niacin

Niacin offers various health benefits that significantly enhance overall well-being. It's one of the many ingredients in the Super 23 supplement, known for its all-natural formula. The key benefits of vitamin B3 include:

Improved Blood Fat Levels:

Niacin plays an instrumental role in managing and regulating body fat. It increases the levels of beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol while decreasing the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), commonly known as "bad" cholesterol. By maintaining a healthy balance between HDL and LDL, niacin supports heart health and aids in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases (2).

Reduce Blood Pressure:

Research indicates that niacin can help lower blood pressure in individuals with hypertension. Niacin's dilating effect on blood vessels enhances blood circulation and helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Moreover, by controlling cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, which can otherwise damage vessel walls, niacin plays a key role in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, thus reducing blood pressure (3).

Boost Brain Function:

The NAD component of niacin plays a crucial role in supporting brain functions. Cognitive functions, memory, mental clarity, and neuronal processes require NAD for optimal functioning. Regular niacin intake may reduce the risk of age-associated cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. Moreover, by enhancing brain functions, it may also help mitigate anxiety and stress (4).

Energy Production:

Niacin is well known for converting food, specifically carbohydrates, into energy in the form of glucose through various metabolic processes. Niacin aids the release of energy from nutrients needed for daily functions and serves as a precursor for the co-enzymes that trigger energy synthesis reactions. Ensuring an adequate supply of niacin in the bloodstream helps guarantee the body's energy requirements are met (5).

Metabolism Support:

Besides enhancing mental health and energy production, niacin supports a range of healthy metabolic reactions. By aiding in the utilisation of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins for glucose synthesis, it reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol levels. Through boosting metabolism, niacin helps maintain a healthy body weight.

 

How to Identify a Niacin Deficiency?

Niacin deficiency, or pellagra, can occur if your diet lacks balance. While such deficiencies are relatively rare in countries where balanced diets are common, certain medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal disorders, alcohol abuse, or extended periods of a niacin-poor diet, can lead to a deficiency. Symptoms of niacin deficiency include (6):

Skin Issues: 

Pellagra may lead to skin rashes and a burning sensation in areas exposed to sunlight. Affected skin may become rough, scaly, and discoloured, turning a reddish-brown colour. 

Digestive Problems: 

Niacin deficiency can cause digestive issues like diarrhoea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort. These problems typically persist and may require long-term supplementation to resolve. 

Mental and Neurological Symptoms: 

A niacin deficiency can result in neurological symptoms, including anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and memory loss. 

Fatigue and Weakness:

Insufficient vitamin B3 can lead to fatigue and weakness due to diminished energy production. A deficiency can compromise energy levels due to niacin's critical role in metabolic and energy-producing reactions.

If you are experiencing the symptoms mentioned above, you may have a niacin deficiency. It is advisable to consult a healthcare provider before beginning niacin supplementation.

 

Dosage of Niacin

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of niacin varies based on factors such as age, sex, and life stage. The recommended dose of niacin as a tablet supplement for adults is two tablets per day. Consistent long-term adherence to the recommended dose yields the most desirable benefits. Here's a summary of the RDA for niacin (7):

Infants:

  • 0–6 months: 2 mg NE/day
  • 7–12 months: 4 mg NE/day

Children:

  • 1–3 years: 6 mg NE/day
  • 4–8 years: 8 mg NE/day
  • 9–13 years: 12 mg NE/day

Adults:

  • Men (ages 14 years and older): 16 mg NE/day
  • Women (ages 14 years and older): 14 mg NE/day

Special Cases for Women:

  • Pregnant women: 18 mg NE/day
  • Breastfeeding women: 17 mg NE/day

It is not advisable to exceed these dosages without consulting a healthcare provider, as doing so could lead to toxicity and potentially cause more harm than good. Certain medical conditions may necessitate higher doses, but these should only be taken under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

 

Niacin-Rich Foods

Niacin can be obtained from animal and plant-based foods. Some of the top sources of niacin include:

Meat and Poultry 

Excellent sources of niacin include beef liver, turkey, chicken breast, and lean cuts of pork.

Fish:

Fatty fish such as tuna and salmon are rich in niacin and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Nuts and Seeds:

Sunflower seeds, peanuts, and almonds provide niacin and serve as nutritious snacks.

Legumes: 

Lentils, peas, and beans are good sources of niacin, making them an ideal choice for vegetarians.

Whole Grains:

Whole wheat, brown rice, and oats are rich in niacin and other essential nutrients.

Mushrooms: 

Portobello and shiitake mushrooms are particularly high in niacin.

Including various foods in your daily meals can help maximise your intake of niacin from natural sources. If your diet does not include sufficient niacin, supplements can be a beneficial addition.

 

Potential Side Effects of Niacin

Niacin is generally safe When consumed within recommended limits. However, some individuals may experience mild side effects, including:

Flushing:

Niacin can sometimes cause skin flushing and a sensation of warmth, particularly when beginning supplementation. These side effects are typically temporary and lessen as your body adapts.

Gastrointestinal Distress:

High niacin intake may lead to nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and indigestion. 

Liver Toxicity:

In rare cases, long-term use of high-dose niacin may affect liver health, as the liver is responsible for metabolising and excreting niacin.  

Glucose Intolerance:

Although niacin plays a critical role in metabolism, it may occasionally interfere with glucose synthesis in individuals with diabetes. Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels is essential for such individuals.  

 

Conclusion

As part of the B-complex group, niacin is vital for various bodily functions, including energy production, brain functionality, and the regulation of blood fats. Furthermore, it plays a key role in maintaining healthy blood pressure. Consuming adequate daily levels of niacin offers numerous benefits to the body. If your diet lacks sufficient niacin, supplementing with low doses can help maintain healthy serum levels. Super 23, with its all-natural formula, is a reliable and safe niacin supplement produced under strict safety standards. To live a healthier life with minimal stress, ensure your niacin intake is optimal naturally through diet or via supplementation.

 

References:

  1. Djadjo S, Bajaj T. (2023). Niacin. In: StatPearls. Accessed July 21, 2023. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541036/

  2. Meyer-Ficca M, Kirkland JB. (2016). Niacin. Adv Nutr, 7(3): 556. doi:10.3945/AN.115.011239

  3. Bays HE, Rader DJ. (2009). Does nicotinic acid (niacin) lower blood pressure? Int J Clin Pract, 63(1): 151. doi:10.1111/J.1742-1241.2008.01934.X

  4. Gasperi V, Sibilano M, Savini I, Catani MV. (2019). Niacin in the Central Nervous System: An Update of Biological Aspects and Clinical Applications. Int J Mol Sci, 20(4). doi:10.3390/IJMS20040974

  5. Tardy AL, Pouteau E, Marquez D, Yilmaz C, Scholey A. (2020). Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence. Nutrients, 12(1). doi:10.3390/NU12010228

  6. Redzic S, Hashmi MF, Gupta V. (2023). Niacin Deficiency. South Med J, 45(8): 775. doi:10.1097/00007611-195208000-00029

  7. Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). (n.d.). Niacin - Health Professional Fact Sheet. Accessed July 21, 2023. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Niacin-HealthProfessional/
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