Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 is also known as niacin, nicotinic acid and vitamin PP. It is one of the group of B vitamins.

See also an overview of the main vitamins.

Active Forms of Vitamin B3:

There are two active forms of vitamin B3 :

  • Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), and
  • Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP)

Functions of Vitamin B3:

The main functions of vitamin B3 include:

  • In common with vitamin B1 (thiamin) and vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 helps with the release of energy from foods and the use of oxygen in the cells of the body. - NAD+ and NADP+ are coenzymes for several dehydrogenases in redox reactions (this information is useful to people who also need to understand the chemical reactions within the body, i.e. details about metabolism)
  • Promotion of healthy growth and development (in children) and to maintain healthy skin, digestive function and nervous system.
  • Supports heart health and circulation.
  • Production of steroid hormones in the adrenal glands.
  • Supports balanced mental and emotional outlook.
  • DNA repair. Specifically, NAD is needed to repair DNA in exposes areas of skin that have been damaged by UV light e.g. due to sunburn.

Sources of Vitamin B3:

There are many different types of foods that include some vitamin B3.

Examples of sources of vitamin B3 include:

In general :

Fruits, nuts / seeds and vegetables:

  • Brewer's yeast
  • Wholegrain cereals
  • Breakfast cereals fortified with vitamin B3
  • Wholemeal bread
  • Fish e.g. tuna, salmon
  • Lean meat e.g. beef
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • the amino acid tryptophan (but synthesis of vitamin B3 from tryptophan is inefficient, requires vitamins B1, B2 and B6 as cofactors and only after protein synthesis requirements have been met)
  • dates
  • tomatoes
  • some nuts e.g. peanuts
  • some seeds e.g. sunflower seeds
  • asparagus
  • green leafy vegetables e.g. cabbage
  • broccoli
  • carrots

Vitamin B3 is also included in some dietary supplements e.g. multi-vitamin tablets or capsules.

The vitamin B3 content of foods is depleted by food processing, incl. preserving and cooking.

Problems due to insufficient or too much Vitamin B3:

Possible consequences of deficiency of Vitamin B3 include:

Possible consequences of excessive intake of Vitamin B3 include:

  • Pellagra (also listed with undernutrition diseases)
  • Some skin conditions, such as eczema and dermatitis
  • Diarrhoea, which can be fatal in some people / situations.
  • Mental and emotional issues, such as
    • anxiety
    • depression
    • poor memory
    • dementia (in the elderly)
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

See also what is a balanced diet?.

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