Vitamin B is one of the most confused nutrients, and that’s because it’s in fact a term that refers to a group of complex vitamins. Today the focus is on vitamin B3 – read on to find out more or check out the rest of our vitamin ABCs here.
What is vitamin B3?
Vitamin B3 is often known as niacin, a name coined from nicotinic acid vitamin, and has a huge range of benefits on the body, playing a large role in skin, mental and digestive health. Like the other B complex vitamins, it’s a water soluble compound and therefore cannot be stored in the body. This means it’s important to keep your body enriched with a constant supply of it.
Where to find vitamin B3
In general, the best way to ensure that you’re getting plenty of vitamin B3 is to have a diet that includes meat or meat substitutes such as soy.
The top foods that are rich in vitamin B3 are:
- Sweet potatoes
- Butternut squash, winter squash and pumpkins
- Nectarines and peaches
- Oranges, grapefruits and other citrus fruits
Niacin supplements are also available and are commonly taken for conditions such as acne and ADHD, as well as to improve digestion and circulation and to reduce the effects of aging.
What levels to aim for
The recommended daily intake of vitamin B3 is 16mg per day for men and 14mg for women, although this amount rises to 18mg for pregnant women and 16mg per day for those who are breastfeeding.
Most people will get all the recommended niacin that they need each day from their diet, however your doctor may prescribe it as a cholesterol treatment.
Effects on the body
Like other B vitamins, niacin is important to help the body break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats in order to convert them into energy. Niacin is present in the adrenal glands to help to remove harmful toxins from the liver and produce other helpful hormones.
The most notable benefits that niacin has on the body are below:
- Supporting good blood sugar levels.
- Keeping your cholesterol in balance.
- Giving clarity to the skin.
- Reduced risk of stroke.
- Supporting insulin sensitivity.
If you don’t have enough vitamin B3, or other vitamin B complexes, in your diet, you may find that you suffer from some or all of the following symptoms:
- Headaches and migraine
- Dry skin
- Anxiety and low mood
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Circulatory problems
- Brain fog.
A severe deficiency is vitamin B3 is rare, but results in a condition called pellagra which can effect the skin, eyes, nose, nervous system and digestive system. If you experience these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider to find the cause of your defiency and devise an appropriate treatment plan.
While additional niacin supplements are a commonly suggested treatment for those with high levels of cholesterol, it’s important to only take the recommended levels. This is due to it being most effective in higher doses, however these levels can pose risks such as liver damage, glucose intolerance or gastrointestinal problems.
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