Properties and Benefits of Vitamin B3

Niacin foods

Vitamin PP, niacin or nicotinic acid all refer to the well-known vitamin B3. In addition to supporting blood circulation, digestion and brain activity, vitamin B3 helps maintain a healthy skin and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Even more, a good niacin intake is said to help relieve inflammation and ease arthritis symptoms. Severe vitamin B3 deficiency often leads to a life-threatening medical condition called pellagra characterized by symptoms such as extensive skin inflammation, prolonged diarrhea episodes, dementia and canker sores.

Although malnutrition associated with poverty is the leading cause of severe niacin deficiency, alcoholism, certain medication or medical conditions may also significantly inhibit vitamin B3 absorption and cause a deficiency. Niacin supplements are used to treat high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and raise HDL cholesterol. The vitamin is crucial for good health and normal development and has benefits for both physical and mental health.

vitamin B3 properties

Vitamin B3 food sources

Vitamin B3 (or niacin) is a water-soluble vitamin found in relatively generous amounts in fish, poultry, beef and venison. Malnutrition, specific medical conditions and certain antibiotic, immuno-suppressant or anti-cancer medications are believed to interfere with vitamin B3 (niacin) absorption and cause pellagra, a potentially life-threatening condition. Alcoholism is a major cause of severe vitamin B3 (niacin) deficiency and is reported to be a leading cause of a variety of other vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Certain grains like corn have a form of niacin that is not readily available and diets centering on eating corn, corn flour and other corn-based products could result in severe niacin deficiency. However, a proper diet, balanced and varied, as well as good lifestyle habits are the key to good health. Every essential nutrient counts towards our overall good health, niacin included. See below what are the most important 7 health benefits of the vitamin.

Niacin foods

What are the benefits of vitamin B3?

  • Aids with the digestion of carbohydrates, fats, protein

Vitamin B3, especially in combination with other B complex vitamins, supports the digestion process, helping synthesize carbohydrates, fats and protein and contributing to energy metabolism. An sufficient intake can stimulate appetite.

  • Energy booster

Like other B vitamins, niacin plays a crucial part in the conversion of proteins, fats and carbohydrates into energy. Our body needs energy in order to support the most basic functions of important organs such as the heart, lungs and brain.

  • Regulates cholesterol levels

Vitamin B3 (niacin) increases HDL (good) cholesterol levels and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. A generous dietary intake of niacin (vitamin B3) as well as niacin supplements are required for lower LDL cholesterol.

  • Natural remedy against insomnia

A generous dietary intake of vitamin B3 is known to promote relaxation and, in time, improve sleep quality and even help treat insomnia. It’s been 4 days since I have started taking B vitamins supplements and I can honestly say that I haven’t had such a good night’s sleep in years. If you are having trouble sleeping, if you are stressed out and worried, tired or have a feeling of unwell, make sure you are getting your B vitamins.

  • Antidiabetic properties

Vitamin B3 (niacin) is believed to regulate high blood sugar levels and thus may help with the prevention and even management of diabetes. However, this does not mean that supplementation with vitamin B3 can cure diabetes. It is important to maintain a healthy weight, eat quality food and keep active if you want to stay healthy.

  • Improves memory

Vitamin B3 (niacin) is known to improve memory and support cognition and overall brain activity, contributing to better productivity and supporting learning. Salmon, tuna, beef and chicken are all good dietary sources of niacin. Also see article on vitamin B3: vitamin PP, niacin.

  • Prevents pellagra

A severe vitamin B3 (niacin) deficit can lead to pellagra, a potentially life-threatening disease. Pellagra symptoms include: severe dermatitis (itchy, inflamed, red, scaly skin), swelling, photosensitivity (increased sensitivity to light), diarrhea, muscle weakness, nerve damage and dementia (a severe neurological disorder that impairs a person’s cognitive abilities). Pellagra is a disease of the poor and malnourished. When vitamin B3 daily requirements are met, pellagra does not occur.

Vitamin B3 deficiency symptoms

A mild vitamin B3 deficiency can have the following symptoms: loss of appetite, muscle weakness, skin infections, digestive problems. In order to prevent vitamin B3 deficiency, make sure you eat right and give up bad lifestyle habits. Any excess vitamin B3 is eliminated through urine, although it’s best to avoid any excess. If you consider it would do you good to take some vitamin or multivitamin supplements, then talk to your doctor, have your levels of essential nutrients tested and, based on the results and symptoms of a deficiency you might be experiencing (fatigue, malaise, poor concentration or others), choose a good dietary supplement brand for you.