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Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Benefits, Uses, & Side Effects

Updated: Oct 3


Niacin, or vitamin B3, is an essential nutrient for your body. It helps your body metabolize the food you eat and helps create sex hormones in your adrenal glands. Niacin also functions as a part of two essential coenzymes in your body: nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP). These coenzymes are involved in many chemical reactions inside cells throughout the body.



Niacin, or vitamin B3, is an essential nutrient for your body.


Regarding vitamins, niacin (also known as vitamin B3) is one of the most essential. This water-soluble nutrient helps your body convert food into energy and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

If you're interested in learning more about this nutrient, we've put together a comprehensive guide to niacin's benefits, uses, and side effects.


It helps your body metabolize the food you eat and helps create sex hormones in your adrenal glands.


Niacin (vitamin B3) is a type of water-soluble vitamin. It's a necessary nutrient for your body to function correctly, and it helps your body metabolize the food you eat. Niacin also helps create sex hormones in your adrenal glands, which are located above each kidney.

In addition to helping make testosterone and estrogen, niacin is also essential for your body to use the energy from carbohydrates and fats. If you don't get enough niacin from food or supplements—or if there's something wrong with how well your body processes it—it may cause symptoms such as:

  • Joint pain or aches

  • Flushing of the skin (redness), especially around the face and neck areas

  • Headaches

Niacin also functions as a part of two essential coenzymes in your body.


Niacin also functions as a part of two essential coenzymes in your body. A coenzyme is a molecule that helps enzymes do their job more effectively by attaching to them, increasing their efficiency, and lowering the energy needed to work. Coenzymes are essential for the body to function correctly because they're needed for energy production, metabolism, and other bodily processes. They're so critical that your body can't manufacture them on its own—you have to get niacin from food or supplements to meet your daily requirements.


Although niacin isn't technically classified as a vitamin (it's considered an essential nutrient), it's still vital because it plays an important role in many things we do every day—from thinking clearly to digesting our meals correctly.


Niacin is a supplement to treat pellagra, a condition caused by a deficiency in niacin.


Niacin is a supplement to treat pellagra, a condition caused by a deficiency in niacin. Niacin deficiency can cause pellagra, characterized by diarrhea, skin lesions, and dementia. In some cases, it can also lead to death.


People with a condition called Hartnup disorder cannot process tryptophan properly and should not take niacin supplements unless under the supervision of their doctor.


It may also benefit people with atherosclerosis or the hardening of the arteries.


In addition to helping with high cholesterol, niacin can also benefit people with atherosclerosis. This condition is where arteries become narrowed and hardened due to plaque buildup in the blood vessel walls. Niacin helps reduce this narrowing by inhibiting an enzyme that promotes atherosclerosis.


How much niacin you need for this benefit depends on your age, sex, and other factors. Still, experts recommend taking no more than 500 milligrams (mg) per day of supplemental nicotinic acid or 1,000 mg of supplemental niacinamide. How long it takes for the benefits to kick in depends on how long you've been following your diet and exercise program; some people notice a difference within two weeks, while others may not see any results until after several months of supplementation.


One of the most common uses of niacin is to treat high cholesterol levels.


Niacin is a B-complex vitamin that the body needs to make energy, protein, and hormones. It's also used to treat high cholesterol levels. Niacin works by reducing the amount of cholesterol made by the liver. It can also cause side effects if you take too much, including flushing and itching.

Before taking niacin, tell your doctor if:

  • You're allergic to niacin or other medications or supplements such as vitamins B6 and B12; folic acid; aspirin; ibuprofen (Advil); naproxen (Aleve); prescription pain medication such as tramadol (Ultram), morphine sulfate; sildenafil citrate (Viagra), vardenafil hydrochloride (Levitra), tadalafil (Cialis) or alfuzosin hydrochloride (Uroxatral).

  • You have diabetes mellitus. This is because high doses of niacin can increase blood sugar levels in people with diabetes who are not already taking insulin for their condition.

A nicotinic acid is an active form of niacin that lowers LDL or "bad" cholesterol and fats called triglycerides in the blood while increasing HDL or "good" cholesterol levels.


A nicotinic acid is an active form of niacin that lowers LDL or "bad" cholesterol and fats called triglycerides in the blood while increasing HDL or "good" cholesterol levels.

Niacin is a B vitamin, but it functions as a drug to lower cholesterol when taken as a supplement. It's prescribed in oral tablet form (drugs like Niaspan) or extended-release capsule form (such as Slo-Niacin). Nicotinic acid is also available with other medications to treat high cholesterol.


In addition to lowering your risk for heart disease and stroke, some research suggests that niacin may help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes.


As a supplement, nicotinic acid may help to lower triglycerides by 20 to 50 percent and raise HDL by 15 to 35 percent.


As a supplement, nicotinic acid may help to lower triglycerides by 20 to 50 percent and raise HDL by 15 to 35 percent.

A nicotinic acid is an active form of niacin that can be used as a prescription medication in conjunction with other treatments for high cholesterol levels. It's also included in some over-the-counter supplements and other vitamins and minerals.


Niacin has benefits beyond improving cholesterol levels, as it can help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which may lead to blindness in older adults.


Niacin also has benefits beyond improving cholesterol levels, as it can help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which may lead to blindness in older adults. AMD develops when the macula degenerates. The retina contains a layer called the retinal pigment epithelium that produces a substance called lipofuscin, which accumulates in people with AMD. However, research suggests that niacin can help inhibit the formation of lipofuscin and slow down the progression of this disease.


You should take 100 milligrams (mg) of niacin thrice daily for six months as soon as you notice any symptoms of AMD or other vision problems, such as blurred vision or loss of peripheral vision.


Not only does niacin help keep your heart healthy, but it also protects against vision loss.


Niacin also helps to prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which may lead to blindness in older adults. It may also benefit people with atherosclerosis or the hardening of the arteries.


If you are taking high doses of niacin for any reason, be sure to take it with meals to avoid stomach upset and possible liver damage from high doses that can occur if the supplement is taken on an empty stomach.


Conclusion


Niacin is an effective supplement for lowering cholesterol and triglycerides and raising HDL levels. It also has additional benefits, such as protecting against AMD and helping with blood sugar control in people with diabetes.

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