Vitamin B 3 Facts: What is Niacin? Functions of Niacin

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What is Niacin? Functions of Niacin. Foods rich in Niacin. Niacin deficiency. Vitamin B 3 Facts.

Niacin is also known as niacinamide, nicotinic acid, nicotinyl alcohol tartrate and Vitamin B3. But what is Niacin and what are the functions of Niacin?

Facts about Niacin – What is Niacin?

Niacin is Vitamin B 3 and a member of B complex vitamins which is essential for the normal function of the nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract. It is a water soluble, colourless compound and derived from pyridine, which is toxic colourless flammable liquid organic base with a disagreeable odour. Niacin is extremely essential for good health and one of most important nutrients that our body needs.

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Niacin Deficiency

Although rare but Niacin deficiency can cause serious health problems and should be treated properly. Symptoms of Niacin deficiency are:

Lack or loss of appetite

General weakness

Muscular weakness

Skin problems or infections




Swollen tongue

Canker sore


Excess Niacin deficiency can cause Pellagra. It is a disease caused by deficiency of niacin and characterized by gastrointestinal disturbances and erythema and nervous or mental disorders. There are five important vitamins which are linked to pandemic deficiency diseases. These vitamins are Niacin, Vitamin C, Thiamine, Vitamin D and Vitamin A. Niacin deficiency is associated with Pellagra. Vitamin C deficiency is connected with Scurvy. Lack of Thiamin can cause Beriberi. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to Rickets and there is also Vitamin A deficiency.

Functions of Niacin

Niacin is extremely important for energy production. All the B complex vitamins including Niacin are responsible to produce usable energy from body’s protein, fats and carbohydrates.

Niacin is important to process the fats in the body. Fatty acids and fat based hormones in the body need Niacin for their synthesis.

It is also said that Niacin is helpful to lower blood cholesterol levels. Niacin has a good impact on HDL (good cholesterol) and it also lowers LDL (bad cholesterol). Thus it manages to keep a healthy cholesterol levels in the body.

Deficiency of B complex vitamins including Niacin can lead to genetic (DNA) damage. DNA need Vitamin B 3 for their production.

Niacin prevents atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attack.

Niacin also plays an important role of having good skin.

Other functions of Niacin are it prevents blurred eyesight; reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Niacin is good for treating depression and promotes the health of CNS (Central Nervous System). Although it is said that Niacin plays an important part to regulate blood sugar levels and insulin metabolism but many researchers are still not sure about it.

Niacin or Vitamin B 3 plays important role to prevent or treat following disease:

Depression, Cataracts, Alzhiemer's, Gout, Headaches, HIV/AIDS, Hypothyroidism, Insomnia, Pellagra, Menstrual pain, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis and Vertigo.

Food Sources of Niacin

Here are the foods rich in Niacin:

Chicken Breast




Red Meat




Green Leafy Vegetables




Sunflower Seeds



Intake of Niacin should always be in the recommended limits as overdose of Niacin can be toxic.


James R. Coffey
Posted on Nov 12, 2010
Posted on Oct 12, 2010
Posted on Oct 12, 2010