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Vitamin B3 – Niacin

Vitamin B3 is technically called Niacin or nicotinic acid. Like other B clomplex vitamins Niacin is a water soluble vitamin. Although all the vitamins are important for a healthy body deficiency of five vitamins (namely Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B3, Vitamin A and Vitamin D) will result in pandemic deficiency diseases. Vitamin B3 deficiency will result in pellagra, vitamin C deficiency results in Scurvy, Vitamin B1 deficiency results in beri beri, Vitamin A deficiency results in night blindness and Vitamin D deficiency results in rickets. This makes vitamin B3 (Niacin) an absolutely essential vitamin for humans.

Vitamin B3 – Niacin Sources

Niacin is found various foods, both plant and animal sources. Some rich sources of Niacin are avocados, dates, tomatoes, leaf vegetables, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, asparagus, nuts, whole grain products and legumes.

Biological Functions of Vitamin B3 – Niacin

Vitamin B3 is required by the body on an every day basis for a healthy functioning of cellular metabolism. The important biological functions of Vitamin B3 are:

Maintains overall metabolism and a deficiency will lead to slow down of metabolism and hence might result in obesity[checklist]

  • Improves immunity, especially against common diseases like cold
  • Plays a vital role in lipid metabolism (Breaking down of fats) and hence protects liver and controls bad cholesterol
  • Niacin is involved in both DNA repair
  • Aids in the production of steroid hormones in the adrenal gland.[/checklist]

Vitamin B3- Deficiency

Nuts are rich in mineralsNiacin deficiency is common in countries where maize is the major staple crop, as maize don’t have niacin. Mild deficiency will slow down metabolism and hence result in weight gain and loss of vitality. A severe deficiency might result in pellagra and may become fatal.

Vitamin B3 – Requirements and supplements

Daily requirement of niacin for an average man is 16 mg/day and for women it is 14 mg/day. However pregnant and lactating women should consume slightly more. The upper limit is 35 mg/day above which is an over-dose.

Fresh vegetables mentioned above and seeds like nuts and whole grains should be consumed regularly for proper niacin supply. If your lifestyle is not permitting you to have a balanced diet then you can opt for a supplement. In that case read more about the vitamin supplements before opting for supplements.

About the author


Ajithkumar, an Engineer and a management professional is the founder of AlternativeMedicineWiz.com. He’s practiced Yoga and Pranayama for more than a decade, after learning it from his renowned guru Gireeshan. He has a keen interest in Ayurveda and Siddha medicine.