All B vitamins help the body to convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which is used to produce energy. These B vitamins, often referred to as B complex vitamins, also help the body use fats and protein. B complex vitamins are needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. They also help the nervous system function properly.
Niacin also helps the body make various sex and stress-related hormones in the adrenal glands and other parts of the body. Niacin helps improve circulation.
Niacin is one of the most important nutrients in your diet, and it’s water soluble. That means that your body excretes excess niacin in your urine, rather than storing it. Therefore, you need to eat a steady supply of niacin each day to ensure that you don’t suffer from niacin deficiency.
Niacin protects your heart by lowering blood levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and preventing the accumulation of arterial plaque. Your digestive system, nervous system and brain need niacin to function. Niacin also helps your body make new DNA, and it helps your body use insulin efficiently to control blood sugar levels. Your body also needs niacin to process fats.
- Maintains and strengthens gastro-intestinal tract, circulation, nervous system, and skin.
- Needed for protein and carbohydrate metabolism.
- Increases blood flow to skin, and extremities. Good for cold feet and hands.
- Important in energy production, and metabolism of fat, cholesterol, and carbohydrates.
- It helps the body produce many hormones.
- Used in over 50 different chemical reactions in the body.
- Helps regulate blood sugar, antioxidant mechanisms. Helps lower high cholesterol, and reduce early-onset arthritis and diabetes. It is excellent when used in treating early diabetes (but should not be used for advanced cases).
Vegetarians need not worry because you can obtain plenty of niacin from vegetables and fruits. Eating these vegetables and fruits everyday can fulfill your daily quota of niacin. Niacin assists in the functioning of the digestive system, skin, and nerves. It is also important for the conversion of food to energy.
Fruit Sources : ( Avocado, Banana, Boysenberries, Breadfruit , Cantaloupe, Cherimoya , Dates, Figs, Guava, Loganberries, Lychee , Mango, Nectarine, Passion Fruit, Peach)
Vegetable Sources : ( Asparagus, Artichoke, Broccoli, Butternut Squash, Collard Greens, Corn, Kale, Mushrooms, Okra, Parsnip, Peas, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Spirulina, Spaghetti Squash, Squash – winter, Sweet Potato, Tomatoes, Turnip Greens)
Nut/Grain Sources : (Almonds, Barley, Buckwheat, Millet, Peanuts, Rye, Spelt, Sunflower Seeds, Wheat – Durum, Wheat – Hard Red, Wheat – Hard White)
From energy release (by breaking fats and carbohydrates), hormones synthesis, protein metabolism and red blood cells formation, niacin plays an important role in almost 50 different processes of our body. Other niacin health benefits are:
- Niacin is good for cardiovascular health as it keeps a balance between HDL and LDL within our system. It lowers LDL and raises the HDL levels that is important to maintain healthy cholesterol levels in the body. Despite many options available, niacin is most effective in increasing HDL levels. However, although niacin refers to both nicotinic acid and nicotinamide, it is only nicotinic acid that has a role in regulating cholesterol levels.
- Niacin promotes blood circulation in the body. It helps in maintaining normal blood pressure levels and keeps blood triglyceride amounts in check.
- Another vitamin B3 benefit is that it prevents atherosclerosis. The vitamin has been found to reduce the build up of plaques and also reverse their formation in arteries. However, the studies from which these findings were obtained, was carried out using both niacin and another cholesterol medication. Hence the absolute role of niacin against atherosclerosis still remains to be determined.
- Certain studies indicate that niacin reduces the risk of a second heart attack in those who have high cholesterol levels and have suffered a heart attack already. Effectiveness of niacin for those who never had a heart attack is not yet clear.
- Of the many benefits of niacin, one is that of vasodilation. Vasodilation refers to expansion of blood vessels. Niacin facilitates dilation of capillaries that are thinnest of blood vessels thus facilitating blood circulation. Skin is supplied with blood mainly through capillaries. When capillaries in skin dilate under the effect of niacin, it is known as niacin flush. In case the capillaries are blocked, blood supply may be altogether cut off from the area that the capillaries supply blood to. Hence niacin flush benefit involves regular passage of blood through the capillaries.
- Vitamin B3 promotes insulin secretion and also improves insulin sensitivity. This role of niacin has been found to be very useful in maintaining optimum blood sugar levels and checking development of type 1 diabetes.
- Niacin improves the health of our digestive tract. It also keeps our hair and skin healthy.
- Niacin health benefits include treating depression, schizophrenia and inducing relaxation. This vitamin promotes the health of the central nervous system.
- It is also known to be effective in preventing peripheral artery diseases, migraines and motion sickness.
- Niacin helps in reducing risks of cataracts and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Niacin deficiency causes muscle weakness, muscle pain, fatigue, headaches, loss of appetite and dementia. One particular condition associated with vitamin B3 deficiency is pellagra. This condition is marked by dermatitis, old age dementia, sensitivity to sunlight, diarrhea and mental confusion.
Niacin Deficiency Symptoms
The initial symptoms of niacin deficiency are quite vague, these include loss of appetite, indigestion and delirium. Pellagra is a result of excess niacin deficiency and it affects the skin to great extent. Thus symptoms of pellagra are observed only in patients with extreme niacin deficiency. Diarrhea, dementia and dermatitis are three major symptoms of pellagra. Niacin deficiency rashes are very severe and can make the skin scaly and dry. Pellagra also develops skin lesions and forms wrinkles. Irritability, psychological problems, confusion and excess sleep are some more symptoms of excess niacin deficiency. The person may also suffer from dehydration due to diarrhea.
The diagnosis of niacin deficiency is quite simple, since many of the symptoms are easily recognizable. The physician will also analyze the dietary habits of the patient, to find out whether the niacin deficiency is caused due to improper diet. Niacin deficiency treatment, includes administration of niacin supplements. balanced diet that includes lots of fresh vegetables and fruits can help in quick recovery from the deficiency. Most of the time niacin deficiency is caused due to multiple deficiencies of vitamins. Thus, the physician provides treatment that can help to recover the deficiency of the all the vitamins.
Usually, too much niacin in diet does not pose severe health problems, since much of the niacin is flushed out of the body through urine. For adults, the daily recommended intake of niacin is 16 mg to 18 mg. For babies, 3 mg should be the daily intake of niacin. The recommended intake for children between one to three years of age, is 6 mg, while for those between 4 to 8 years of age it is 8 mg. Pregnant ladies or lactating mothers, require higher amount of niacin and hence, they should consult their doctor for exact amount of consumption. Any amount exceeding these numbers, can cause niacin overdose.
- Vitamin B2 ( Riboflavin) : Benefits, Deficiency And Food Sources. (blissreturned.wordpress.com)
- The role of niacin in detoxification (thebloggingpath.com)