Nicotinic acid, niocinamide, nicotinamide, vitamin B3
Niacin helps convert protein, carbohydrates and fats into energy and facilitates the release of glycogen which is a glucose-based energy reserve stored in the liver and muscles. It also plays a role in helping the body use bone calcium and is essential to skin, nerves, and digestive tract health.
Niacin is either found in food or synthesized from tryptophan.
Generally speaking, products that are high in protein are good sources of niacin. Liver, meat, fish and poultry are rich in niacin and tryptophan. Peanuts and legumes also contain considerable amounts of niacin. Milk and dairy products are not particularly rich in niacin but are excellent sources of tryptophan.
Although grain products are not naturally high in niacin, they are often fortified, making them good dietary sources.
|Approximate Niacin Content|
Cooking has very little effect on niacin.
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
Recommended average daily nutrient intake that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97 to 98%) healthy individuals in each age and gender group. The RDA should only be used as a guide for daily individual intake.
The average North American diet consists of 16 to 34 mg of niacin per day, of which almost 100% is absorbed.
Niacin requirements can easily be met through diet alone. Deficiencies are rare.
A niacin deficiency may cause apathy, confusion, dementia, depression, diarrhea, rash, muscle weakness, fatigue, mucosal inflammation, headache and light sensitivity.
Large doses of niacin are essentially obtained through supplements.
Niacin toxicity causes redness, flushing, abdominal pain and itchiness. It may also cause cardiac arrhythmia, diarrhea, a drop in blood pressure, nausea and vomiting.
Niacin deficiency is treated with doses of 50 to 500 mg per day.
Supplements may also be used to help lower cholesterol and serum triglycerides. If used for either of these purposes, a daily dose of 500 to 6000 mg is required. At these doses however, adverse effects are likely and medical supervision is important. Strong doses must be used with caution in the presence of unstable angina, diabetes, gout, haemorrhage, hypotension, infarct, bile duct disorders, liver impairment and gastrointestinal ulcers.
Watch what you eat. Nutrition has a significant impact on health!
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