Back to Basics- All About Vitamin B3

What is Vitamin B3? It is found in foods that contain thiamin and can be created in the body from the amino acid tryptophan. Vitamin B3 exists in three forms: Niacinamide, Nicotinic acid, and Nicotinamide. It also exists in supplemental form as niacin, niacinamide or inositol hexaniacinate. Each form has different uses.

Why do we need it? It plays an essential role as a co-enzyme in the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates into energy. It is also required for fatty acid and steroid hormone production.

How do we get it? We can get a good amount of this vitamin from the following foods:

  • Nutritional and brewer’s yeast
  • Rice bran
  • Wheat bran
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Liver
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Turkey

How do we know if we are deficient in it? Signs of niacin deficiency include:

  • Cracked, scaly dermatitis
  • Muscular weakness
  • Confusion, memory loss or depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • GI symptoms: indigestion, diarrhea and vomiting
  • Excess consumption of sugar can deplete niacin

Can you have too much vitamin B3? The most common side effect of niacin is the skin flushing that occurs 20-30
minutes after taking supplemental niacin. Other side effects include:

  • Gastric irritation
  • Nausea
  • Liver damage     
  • Altered glucose tolerance in diabetics

Source: The Nutritional Therapy Association