Niacin is needed to use energy in the body, to breakdown fat and alcohol, to build DNA, hormones, and fatty acids, to modify proteins, and to regenerate or utilize Folate, Vitamin C, and Glutathione.
Niacin deficiency symptoms include headache, apathy, loss of memory, peripheral neuritis, paralysis of extremities, and mental confusion or delirium. Extreme niacin deficiency is called pellagra and is known for the four D’s of symptoms including dermatitis, dementia, diarrhea, and death. Deficiencies of other B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, and pyridoxine) often occur at the same time.
Sources & Absorption:
The body is unable to store Niacin for later use, therefore it must be consumed daily or every few days. Good sources of Niacin include fish, beef, poultry, and nutritional yeasts, moderate sources include grains, seeds, potatoes, peas, beans, lentils, carob, peanuts, coffee, and tea, and lesser sources include green vegetables and milk. Niacin is easily absorbed.
Since Niacin is not stored in the body, there appears to be little to no risk of toxicity from consuming normal amounts of it. However, doses above 50 mg, in the form of a supplement, may cause redness and itching of the skin around the face and neck. Additionally, large doses of nicotinic acid of 1 gram or more have been associated with gastrointestinal problems, liver injury, raising serum uric acid levels, and elevated blood sugar.
* This information is not intended to encourage self-supplementation. As you will read in individual nutrient content, self-supplementation can be unnecessary or even dangerous. I highly recommend micro-nutrient blood testing before choosing to take any supplements that are not whole-foods based.
Gropper SS, Smith JL, Groff JL. Advanced nutrition and human metabolism. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth; 2009.
Mahan L, Escott-Stump S, Raymond J. Krauses's food and the nutrition care process. 13th ed. St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.
Spectracell Laboratories, Supplemental Information Reference Book.
Linda Beeker, RDN
I love sharing the power of nutrition - a gift of God's design.