Vitamin B3 - Niacin
What is it?
Niacin and niacinamide are forms of Vitamin B3. Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is a water-soluble amide of nicotinic acid.
While niacinamide and niacin have identical vitamin activities (i.e., they both prevent development of the vitamin B3-deficiency condition, pellagra), they have very different pharmacological activities.
Niacin and niacinamide are forms of Vitamin B3. Vitamin B3 is found in many foods including yeast, meat, fish, milk, eggs, green vegetables, beans, and cereal grains
What does it do?
- Niacinamide acts as an antioxidant by preventing NAD depletion during DNA repair.
- Niacinamide inhibits free radical formation and protects from macrophage toxins
- In Type 1 diabetes it protects pancreatic islet cells from damage facilitates beta-cell regeneration in vivo and in vitro.
- Niacinamide has also been found to stimulate GABA receptors, without binding to the receptor sites, thus creating a benzodiazepine-like effect.
- Anti-inflammatory action by affecting neutrophil chemotaxis (chemical signals used to attract immune and inflammatory cells) and suppresses cytokine induced inflammation and oxidative stress.
Pellagra, a disease consisting of bilaterally symmetrical lesions on both sides of the body and hands, occurs as a result of a niacin deficiency. The disease is characterized by hyperpigmentation and thickening of the skin, inflammation of the tongue and mouth, and digestive disturbances including indigestion, anorexia, and diarrhea. In late stages of the disease, irritability, amnesia, and delirium occur. Both niacin and niacinamide are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment and prevention of niacin deficiency, and certain conditions related to niacin deficiency such as pellagra. Niacinamide is sometimes preferred because it doesn’t cause “flushing,” (redness, itching and tingling), a side effect of niacin treatment.
In Diabetes; there is a window of opportunity to use high-doses of niacinamide to exert protective effects on beta-cell function in humans. The dose used in diabetic and prediabetic individuals ranges from 1.75- 3.5 grams per day. In diabetic children, a daily dose of 150-300 mg/year of age, up to 3 grams is often used. Refer to the dosing section and you will see these levels far exceed typical dietary requirements and should be done with guidance and prescription from your healthcare professional.
Niacinamide has been used to treat several types of dermatological pathologies that present with blistering skin conditions or hyperpigmentation in particular.
Niacin is commonly used for high cholesterol and triglycerides but this action still requires further research to test if effective for this.
Niacin is also used along with other treatments for circulation problems, migraine headache and dizziness.
Niacin is also commonly used for preventing positive urine drug screens in people who take illegal drugs.
How do I supplement?
The recommended daily intake (RDA) is 20 mg per day for an adult.
Higher doses are commonly used for masking drug tests, targeting cholesterol, and treating / preventing Type 1 Diabetes but the larger doses may not be safe and should only be used under the direct supervision of your health care professional.
Nausea is usually the first side effect noted with niacinamide. Other side effects associated with high-dose niacinamide include heartburn, vomiting, flatulence, and diarrhea. Mild headaches and dizziness have been reported after giving niacinamide parenterally.
Niacin and niacinamide are LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth. A common minor side effect of niacin is a flushing reaction. This might cause burning, tingling, itching, and redness of the face, arms, and chest, as well as headaches.
When doses of over 3 grams per day of niacin are taken, more serious side effects can happen. These include liver problems, gout, ulcers of the digestive tract, loss of vision, high blood sugar, irregular heartbeat, and other serious problems. Similar side effects can happen with large doses of niacinamide.
Some concern has been raised about stroke risk in people taking niacin. In one large study, people who took high doses of niacin had a two-fold greater risk of stroke compared to those not taking niacin. But it is unclear if this outcome was due to niacin or some other unknown factor. Previous research has not identified any stroke risk related to taking niacin.
Food Sources of Niacin (B3)
- Turkey Breast
- Chicken Breast
- Green peas
- Grass-fed Beef
- Sunflower seeds
- Brown Rice
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