Herbal Supplements
Vitamin B3 Essentials

What it is?

Third in the B Vitamins group, niacin (Vitamin B3) was discovered in 1873 as a chemical produced from the nicotine oxidation by the nitric acid. Hugo Weidel described it and introduced to the world. Later it was found in livers where it was extracted from by Conrad Elvehjem, who investigated its pellagra-preventing qualities.

Later some scientific researches studied the properties of Vitamin B3 and it has acquired its name derived from the three words: “nicotinic acid” and “vitamin”. It is also known under the name “Vitamin PP”.

There are 2 forms of Vitamin B3 – niacin (nicotinic acid), and niacinamide (nicotinamide). There also exists a variation of niacin - inositol hexaniacinate, which contains a high concentration of niacin, but is not toxic.

Vitamin B3 belongs to the water-soluble vitamin group and its major function is to break the fats and protein in human body, maintain muscle health, support nervous system and liver activity.

What it does in the body?

When dissolved in the water, Vitamin B3 helps the body convert carbohydrate content into glucose (or simply, sugar), which is essential for producing body energy. Niacin regulates cholesterol levels in the blood, releases toxic chemicals from the body, balances hormonal activity of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, and stimulates digestion by enhancing the hydrochloric acid production. It is also known as a supplement for a healthy nerves, skin, nails and hair.


Whole grain products is a great source of niacin – it is found in whole wheat bread, brown rice, and pastas. In animal products Vitamin B3 is represented in high amounts in livers, kidneys and hearts; beef, pork, veal and chicken. Fish, tuna and salmon in particular, should also be considered in the diet due to their rich niacin content (7mg per 3 oz serving). Also rich in it are eggs, milk, tomatoes, avocado, beets, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, dates, mushrooms, brewer's yeast, nuts, and sunflower seeds. Some energy drinks have niacin added to their formula as well. Basically, any food containing protein should be considered a source of niacin, since the amino acid in it (tryptophan) is converted into Vitamin B3 in human body.

What happens in case of Vitamin B3 deficiency?

Mild deficiency of niacin in the body results in indigestion, vomiting, fatigue, redness of mouth and tongue, depression, appetite loss and skin lesions. These usually persist if individual changes the diet habits and consumes more protein-rich foods. In severe cases of niacin deficiency the skin condition called pellagra occurs. Is is characterized by dementia, diarrhea, cracked and scaly skin. If is not taken proper care of, the outcome of pellagra might be death. Niacin supplements and its high intake in diet usually treat the disease. Alcoholism is often a cause of Vitamin B3 deficiency. Also, in countries where corn is a major grain food, people suffer from it, since corn is the only grain low in niacin and needs lime to transform tryptophan into niacin.

What happens in case of niacin overdose?


Usual amount of Vitamin B3 is 35 mg daily intake. In some cases (e.g. high cholesterol in blood) doctors prescribe much higher amounts, up to 3,000 mg per day. This can result in vomiting, indigestion, skin irritation, blurred vision, cardiac arrhythmia, birth defects, and liver dysfunctions. High level of niacin may also provoke the elevation of blood sugar and thus worsen diabetes. To avoid life-threatening symptoms, always consult with the health care provider if high amounts of niacin intake are planned.

About Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 - Niacin

Niacin (or Vitamin B3) is a medium between the nutrition and the production of body energy. Its major function is transformation of carbohydrates ...

2011-04-17 09:23:35
Straight and forward, it was easy to understand the concerpts
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About Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 - Niacin

Niacin (or Vitamin B3) is a medium between the nutrition and the production of body energy. Its ...

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