Surely you are tired of hearing that the only way to live a healthy life is through your diet. However repetitive this statement may seem, it is the truth. The increase in life expectancy and the lower frequency of certain diseases is largely due to better nutrition.
Vitamin B3 is one of those nutrients that is easy to overlook in the search for the perfect supplement. Lack of vitamin B3 can cause all kinds of physical and mental ailments. However, if you think deficiency is a thing of the past, you may be in for a surprise. Keep reading to find out more!
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our Selection: The Best Vitamin B3 Supplements
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know about Vitamin B3 Supplements
- 5 Buyer's Guide
- 6 Summary
- Vitamin B3 is a water soluble compound. It is considered an essential nutrient, so it can be obtained through food.
- Vitamin B3 deficiency can lead to a life-threatening disease known as pellagra.
- If you are going to purchase a vitamin B3 supplement, you should take into account the vegan and vegetarian options and the possible presence of allergens such as gluten. You can choose products according to the frequency of adverse effects, packaging type, and according to their value for money.
Our Selection: The Best Vitamin B3 Supplements
Supplements with high doses of vitamin B3 should be used exclusively under medical supervision. For this reason, our recommendations contain multivitamins with limited doses that do not require expert control. These supplements will provide you with a sufficient amount of B3 without dangerous excess.
Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know about Vitamin B3 Supplements
What is vitamin B3?
The term vitamin B3 encompasses molecules with slight variations in their structure, such as nicotinic acid or niacinamide. These forms will be metabolized in the human body regardless of their biochemical structure and transformed into molecules with antioxidant capacity. Thus, vitamin B3 allows the correct development of the following processes (2):
|System||Function of vitamin B3|
|Endocrine|| Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins
Growth and development
|Neural|| Transmission of nerve impulses
Protection of neurons
|Cardiovascular||Control of cholesterol levels|
|Skin||Maintenance of skin elasticity|
What foods contain vitamin B3?
|Food||Milligrams of B3 per 100 grams|
|Peanut or groundnut||14|
As you can see, there are several plant and animal sources of vitamin B3. By choosing fresh products and avoiding overcooking food, you can ensure that your dishes maintain the most amount of nutrients possible during their preparation.(2).
What are the consequences of vitamin B3 deficiency?
|Population group||CDR of vitamin B3 (mg/day)|
|Babies (up to 6 months)||2|
|Babies (up to 12 months)||4|
|Boys and girls 1-3 years||6|
|Boys 4-8 years||8|
|Adolescents 9-13 years||12|
|Boys 14-18 years||16|
|Girls 14-18 years||14|
|Men over 18 years of age||16|
|Women over 18 years of age||14|
Meat, fish, eggs, a large number of vegetables and even milk contain vitamin B3. This makes niacin deficiency a frankly rare occurrence in modern times. (2.4):
- Malnutrition: People with eating disorders who undergo very low-calorie diets may experience a deficiency of vitamin B3.
- Individuals suffering from intestinal malabsorption: Pathologies such as Crohn's disease, which affect the absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract, can cause a niacin deficiency. Surgical resections (such as those performed in obesity surgery) can also cause this deficit.
- Alcoholism: Alcohol addiction can cause a malnutrition process that leads to a niacin deficiency. In the western world, alcoholism is the first recognized cause of vitamin B3 deficiency.
An insufficient amount of vitamin B3 will impede the proper functioning of the body's antioxidant metabolism. This situation will make the cells of the body vulnerable, which will suffer irreparable damage to their genetic material. The integrity of the skin, the digestive system and the neuronal structure will be affected, including(2):
- Memory problems
- Mental confusion
- Dry skin
- Alterations in skin pigmentation
- Skin peeling
- Increased chance of cancer
Severe vitamin B3 deficiency is known as pellagra (5). This disease is characterized by diarrhea, dementia and dermatitis, causing the death of the individual if it is not resolved in time. Although this type of malnutrition is very rare today, specific cases have been described in overcrowded refugee centers.
What are the consequences of having too much vitamin B3?
|Population group||Maximum amount of vitamin B3 (mg/day)|
|Babies (up to 6 months)||Not established|
|Boys and girls 1-3 years||10|
|Boys and girls 4-8 years||10|
|Adolescents 9-13 years||15|
|Boys 14-18 years||30|
|Girls 14-18 years||30|
|Men over 18 years of age||35|
Fortunately, the adverse effects of excessive niacin consumption do not appear if this vitamin is obtained through diet. However, a misuse of vitamin B3 supplements can cause hypervitaminosis that produces undesirable symptoms. The following section describes the main consequences of excess niacin (6):
- Skin redness: Known as "flushing", it is the result of vasodilation of the capillaries that supply the skin on your face and arms. It appears about 30 minutes after the intake of a vitamin supplement that contains amounts of B3 greater than 30 mg.
- General discomfort: Supplementation with doses of vitamin B3 greater than 30 mg can also cause headaches, dizziness and a drop in blood pressure. If hypotension is severe enough, it can lead to falls and accidents.
- Glucose intolerance: The consumption of very high doses of vitamin B3 (1000 - 3000 mg / day) can interfere with the correct metabolism of carbohydrates. This side effect is especially dangerous for diabetics or for those who have difficulties in keeping their plasma glucose within normal limits.
- Liver damage: If high doses of niacin are consumed for months or years without interruption, liver damage may occur. Liver damage can manifest itself as fatigue and loss of appetite, leading to liver failure in its most severe forms.
Is vitamin B3 supplementation recommended?
- Supplements with vitamin B3 as the sole ingredient: These products generally contain capsules, powder or liquid with high concentrations of niacin. These items are used to regulate cholesterol levels in people resistant to other treatments. However, we do not recommend its use without medical supervision.
- Multivitamin supplements with vitamin B3: In this case, you can find products that include various nutrients. Supplements will tend to contain CDR equal or similar niacin doses for this vitamin (14-18 mg). This property makes them the ideal nutritional supplements for fans of supplementation on their own.
There is no doubt that vitamin B3 supplementation is effective. Numerous good quality clinical trials are available showing that niacin administration is capable of lowering blood cholesterol levels (7). However, this product may also predispose to the onset of diabetes and cause long-term liver damage .
If the dietary or pharmacological measures you have taken to lower cholesterol levels have proven ineffective, vitamin B3 may help you. However, this alternative treatment must be previously approved by a doctor. This warning is especially important for diabetics and liver disease patients (liver disease) (6).
Nutritional supplements that contain multiple vitamins (including niacin) are much more recommended. These products will be useful if you cannot follow a balanced diet for any reason. In these cases, a multivitamin with niacin will help you preserve your immune, metabolic and intellectual function.
If you have decided to get a vitamin B3 supplement, we recommend that you read this part of our article carefully. In the following section, we will help you choose a nutritional product that allows you to take niacin safely and effectively.
Vegan or Vegetarian Diet
It will not be difficult for you to find a vitamin B3 supplement capable of adapting to a cruelty-free diet. Most nutritional supplements, both niacin alone and multivitamins, will be suitable for vegans and vegetarians. If you are going to buy a supplement in capsules, make sure that the capsule itself does not contain gelatin.
Gluten and Other Allergens
Vitamin B3 supplements may contain gluten, soy, and nuts, among other allergens. If you suffer from any type of food intolerance, remember to look on the label of your supplement for guarantee stamps that ensure a product free of these substances. The list of ingredients in the article should be in English and be perfectly legible.
If your doctor has given you the go-ahead to use a supplement that contains high doses of vitamin B3, remember that you can suffer from flushing. If this reddening of the face bothers you, there are anti-flushing preparations that minimize this effect. Of course, the cost of these items will be slightly higher than the rest.
Conservation and Expiration
The effectiveness of vitamin B3 supplements may be progressively reduced once the expiration date is exceeded. Fortunately, consuming these expired supplements will not be toxic most of the time. You can extend the shelf life of these items by keeping them in a cool, dry place, away from aggressive odors and temperatures.
Vitamin B3 is one of the most important nutrients for our well-being. Following a balanced diet that includes meat, fish and legumes will provide us with enough niacin to preserve a healthy metabolism. A deficiency can have devastating consequences for your health and must be avoided under all circumstances.
A niacin supplement and the strict supervision of a dietary expert can help you control cholesterol levels resistant to conventional treatment. For your day-to-day, however, we advise you to seek balance in vitamin B3 supplementation, avoiding deficiencies while avoiding excesses. The key is in balance!
(Source of featured image: Baibakova: 133826552/ 123rf.com)
Kelly JJ, Lawson JA, Campbell L V., Storlien LH, Jenkins AB, Whitworth JA, et al. Effects of nicotinic acid on insulin sensitivity and blood pressure in healthy subjects. J Hum Hypertens [Internet]. 2000 Sep 6 [cited 2019 Dec 24];14(9):567–72.
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Niacin: Drug Uses, Dosage & Side Effects - Drugs.com [Internet]. [cited 2019 Dec 24].
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Villines TC, Kim AS, Gore RS, Taylor AJ. Niacin: The Evidence, Clinical Use, and Future Directions. Curr Atheroscler Rep [Internet]. 2012 Feb 27 [cited 2019 Dec 24];14(1):49–59.
Niacin — Health Professional Fact Sheet [Internet]. [cited 2019 Dec 24].
Peechakara B V., Gupta M. Vitamin B3 [Internet]. StatPearls. 2019 [cited 2019 Dec 24].
H. Stipanuk M, A. Caudill M. Biochemical, physiological, and molecular aspects of human nutrition. 3rd editio. Elsevier; 2013. 948 p.