Vitamin B3 is also known as niacin or nicotinic acid and is one of eight different B-vitamins. Vitamin B3 is an essential vitamin required in the body's ability to convert food into fuel and support functions such as circulation, nervous system and adrenal functions. 1
A mild vitamin B3 deficiency may contribute to health conditions such as canker sores, fatigue, depression, indigestion, and poor circulation. Pellagra is a severe niacin deficiency which can cause diarrhea, cracked skin and lips, and even dementia. 1,3
Vitamin B3 is water soluble which means it cannot be stored in the body. Instead, vitamin B3 must be absorbed through supplements or foods. Vitamin B3 occurs naturally in foods like green vegetables, milk, yeast, eggs, fish, peanuts, and cereal grains. 1,2
Vitamin B3 Health Uses and Health Benefits
There are many important vitamin B3 benefits including:
- Boosts energy levels
- Produces sex and stress hormones in the adrenal glands and throughout the body
- Improves circulation
- Lowers inflammation and supports joint health and function
- Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
- Lowers and controls cholesterol levels
- Improves skin health including skin conditions like acne
- Improves depression, headaches and other brain-related conditions
Due to the number of important vitamin B3 health benefits, a vitamin B3 deficiency can be a serious condition. The following vitamin B3 uses may help to improve these health conditions.
- Intermittent Claudication - Vitamin B3 health benefits help to improve circulation which can reduce cramping in limbs caused by intermittent claudication.
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) - A vitamin B3 deficiency may be a contributing factor to certain mental conditions including narcissistic personality disorder. Taking vitamin B3 supplements may help to improve brain function and reduce symptoms of NPD.
- Osteoarthritis - Vitamin B3 is believed to help reduce or control inflammation in the body which is beneficial to those suffering from osteoarthritis. Vitamin B3 may help to reduce inflammation in the joints and improve mobility.
- Depression - Vitamin B3 supplementation is believed to help improve mental and mood related conditions including depression. Additionally, vitamin B3 can improve fatigue, which is a common symptom of depression.
- Cataracts - Studies have shown that those with a high-niacin diet had a lower risk of cataracts. Taking in sufficient or high levels of vitamin B3 may help to prevent the development of cataracts.
- Alzheimer’s Disease - Studies have shown that people with higher levels of niacin in their diets have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Taking vitamin B3 supplements may be effective in preventing or lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin B3 Side Effects and Precautions
There are certain vitamin B3 side effects that can occur when taking niacin supplements in high doses. These vitamin B3 side effects can include low blood pressure, dizziness and headaches. 4
Niacin may also interact negatively with certain medications, therefore it is important to discuss potential vitamin B3 side effects with your doctor before taking niacin supplements for any condition. 4