Vitamin B3 (also called niacin) is one of eight ‘B’ vitamins. Like all B vitamins it plays a role in helping the body to convert food into fuel to be used for energy. It also contributes to keeping the nervous and the digestive systems healthy.
Where do I find vitamin B3?
- Vitamin B3 is water-soluble which means the body cannot store it but most of us can get sufficient amounts by eating a well-balanced diet. Good dietary sources include: brewer’s yeast, meat, fish, peanuts, sunflower seeds, fortified breads and cereals, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
- Niacin is also available in supplement forms.
- The daily recommended amount is 17mg for men and 13mg for women.
Why do I need vitamin B3?
All B vitamins keep the skin, hair, eyes, nervous system and the liver healthy but vitamin B3 has an addition role in helping the body to make sex and stress-related hormones in the adrenal glands and other parts of the body. Vitamin B3 is also important for good circulation.
Some recent evidence suggests that vitamin B3 may be linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease but more research is needed. There is also some evidence to suggest high niacin intake is associated with a lower risk of developing cataracts.
How will I know if I am lacking in Vitamin B3?
A niacin deficiency is unusual in Britain but it can affect people suffering from alcoholism. Signs of a vitamin B3 shortage include: indigestion, fatigue, vomiting and depression. A severe deficiency can also cause cracked and scaly skin, dementia and diarrhoea.
Can vitamin B3 ever be harmful?
Too much vitamin B3 can be toxic. Symptoms include skin flushes and high doses over time can lead to liver damage.
Vitamin B3 can interact with some medication so it is best to check with your doctor before mixing medications with supplements.