Health Benefits of Niacin (Vitamin B3) + Sources & Dosage


Health Benefits of Niacin (Vitamin B3) + Sources & Dosage

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Niacin is a type of B vitamin. It is water-soluble, which means it is not stored in the body. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water. Leftover amounts of the vitamin leave the body through the urine. That means you need a regular supply of such vitamins in your diet.


Niacin helps the digestive system, skin, and nerves to function. It is also important for converting food to energy.

Food Sources

Niacin (also known as vitamin B3) is found in:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Enriched breads and cereals
  • Rice
  • Fish
  • Lean meats
  • Legumes
  • Peanuts
  • Poultry


For many years, doses of 1 to 3 grams of nicotinic acid per day has been a treatment option for low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Always talk to your health care provider before starting any supplement regimen.

Side Effects

A deficiency of niacin causes pellagra. The symptoms include:

  • Digestive problems
  • Inflamed skin
  • Mental impairment

Large doses of niacin can cause:

  • Increased blood sugar (glucose) level
  • Liver damage
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Skin rashes

Even normal doses can be associated with feeling warmth, redness, itching or tingling of the face, neck, arms or upper chest. This is called “flushing”.

In most cases, this problem will get better after taking niacin on a regular basis for a while. To prevent flushing, do not drink hot beverages or alcohol at the same time you take niacin.

New forms of nicotinic acid reduce this side effect. Nicotinamide does not cause these side effects.



Recommendations for niacin and other nutrients are provided in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), which are developed by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine. DRI is the term for a set of reference values that are used to plan and assess the nutrient intakes of healthy people. These values, which vary by age and gender, include:

  • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): average daily level of intake that is enough to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97% to 98%) healthy people.
  • Adequate Intake (AI): when there is not enough evidence to develop an RDA, the AI is set at a level that is thought to ensure enough nutrition.

Dietary Reference Intakes for Niacin:


  • 0 to 6 months: 2* milligrams per day (mg/day)
  • 7 to 12 months: 4* mg/day

*Adequate Intake (AI)

Children (RDA)

  • 1 to 3 years: 6 mg/day
  • 4 to 8 years: 8 mg/day
  • 9 to 13 years: 12 mg/day

Adolescents and Adults (RDA)

  • Males age 14 and older: 16 mg/day
  • Females age 14 and older: 14 mg/day, 18 mg/day during pregnancy, 17 mg/day during lactation

Specific recommendations depend on age, gender, and other factors (such as pregnancy). Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need higher amounts. Ask your provider which amount is best for you.

The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods.


Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 1998. PMID: 23193625

Mason JB. Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 218.

Salwen MJ. Vitamins and trace elements. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2017:chap 26.

Emily Wax, RD, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


Niacin (Vitamin B3): Benefits & Side Effects

Health Benefits of Niacin (Vitamin B3) + Sources & Dosage

Vitamin B3, also called niacin, is one of the eight B-complex water-soluble vitamins. Niacin has a wide range of uses in the body, helping functions in the digestive system, skin and nervous system.

Niacin, a name coined from nicotinic acid vitamin, comes in several forms, including niacinamide (nicotinamide) and inositol hexanicotinate.

Each of these forms has various uses as well. 

Food sources of niacin include yeast, meat, fish, milk, eggs, nuts, green vegetables, beans and enriched breads and cereals. The human body can also make niacin from the amino acid tryptophan, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 


other B vitamins, niacin helps the body break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. In addition, it plays a role in gland and liver function.

“Niacin has a role in producing certain hormones in the adrenal glands and helps remove harmful chemicals from the liver,” Dr.

Sherry Ross, women's health expert at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, told Live Science.

Niacin also can play a part in improving health. According to NIH, it is also used for treating migraine headaches, circulation problems and dizziness, and to reduce the diarrhea associated with cholera. 

Some studies have found the taking niacin may help stroke patients. When rats with ischemic stroke were given niacin, their brains grew new blood vessels, according to researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan.

Ischemic stroke is caused by an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain and accounts for 87 percent of all cases.

A 2000 study published in the journal Stroke also used rats and found that treatment with nicotinamide may repair damage to the brain caused by strokes.  

Vitamin B3 may also be helpful to cancer patients. A recent study found that nicotinamide significantly reduces the incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancers in those with a history of basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma.

It may be good for other skin conditions, too. In a double-blind trial by the State University of New York, the topical application of a 4 percent niacinamide gel twice a day for two months resulted in a similar acne improvement when compared to 1 percent clindamycin gel. 

Those who have intimacy problems may also benefit from niacin. According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, vitamin B3 was found to improve the ability to maintain an erection in men with moderate to severe erectile dysfunction. 

A recent animal study suggested that niacin may be helpful in preventing inflammatory bowel disease and colitis.

The 2017 study, published in Scientific Reports, found that rats that were given niacin and then induced with colitis saw less colonic damage than those who did not receive niacin.

The authors attribute this protection to niacin's anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic effects. (Angiogenic means the formation and development of blood vessels.)

Niacin and cholesterol

Niacin is known for lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic reported that niacin could raise HDL (good) cholesterol by more than 30 percent. Therefore, niacin has been a major part of treating high cholesterol for at least 50 years. But a large-scale 2014 study has caused some health professionals to revisit that view. 

The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, examined 50- to 80-year-olds with cardiovascular disease. They were already taking statin medication, which was combined with extended-release niacin and laropiprant, which reduces face flushing associated with niacin, for four years. Niacin did not result in the hypothesized reduced heart attacks and strokes.

It also was associated with a higher risk of death from all causes and serious side effects, including liver problems, excess bleeding, infections, loss of blood sugar control in diabetics, gout and the development of diabetes.

The authors of the study conclude that doctors should take these adverse effects into consideration when prescribing niacin and perhaps niacin should only be used to treat severe patients. 

A 2017 article in the Journal of Clinical-Lipidology, however, cited previous studies that saw reductions in cardiovascular events in patients that combined niacin with statins. The authors of the article state that more research is needed before niacin ends its term as a cholesterol therapy mainstay. 

Niacin flush

One side effect of taking niacin supplements is mild flushing. Ross described it as a feeling of warmth, itching, redness or a tingly feeling under the skin.

The flushing is harmless and usually subsides within one or two hours, according to the British Columbia Drug and Poison Information Center (DPIC). Some over-the-counter niacin tablets deliver the dose in a short burst, which makes the reaction more intense.

Timed-release tablets deliver the vitamin more slowly, which reduces the intensity of the flushing. However, this type of niacin may cause liver damage in some people, according to the DPIC. 

Other side effects can include stomach upset, intestinal gas, dizziness and pain in the mouth, the NIH reported. 

Deficiency and dosage

In the United States and other developed countries, niacin deficiency is rare and is typically found in alcoholics.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, symptoms of mild niacin deficiency include fatigue, canker sores, vomiting, depression, poor circulation and indigestion.

More severe niacin deficiency can cause a condition called pellagra. The symptoms of pellagra include digestive problems, inflamed or flakey skin, diarrhea and mental impairment.

The normal recommended daily allowance (RDA) of niacin is dependent on age, gender, health conditions and reproductive status. For women and men, the average RDA is 14 to 16 milligrams a day, according to the NIH. Those taking medications or those that have medical conditions should contact a medical professional before taking niacin due to drug interactions and side effects.

Getting too much niacin is possible, even for healthy individuals. “When taking it, you need to check for interactions with other meds and make sure your labs tests are normal,” said Dr.

Kristine Arthur, internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California.

“If you take too much you can have side effects including nausea, stomach upset, abnormal liver tests, muscle breakdown and flushing — usually with over 1 to 2 grams per day.” 

Many doctors advise against self-medicating with niacin and suggest that in many cases supplementation isn't needed.

“The water soluble vitamins, such as C and B complex, are much harder to reach toxic levels from over-ingestion, but does this mean we need to procure them from a supplement regularly? In most cases, the answer is no,” said Dr.

David Greuner, director and co-founder of NYC Surgical Associates. Most people are able to get plenty of niacin through a healthy diet. 

Additional reporting by Jessie Szalay, Live Science contributor.

Additional resources


Health Benefits of Niacin (Vitamin B3) + Sources & Dosage

Health Benefits of Niacin (Vitamin B3) + Sources & Dosage

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is found in a variety of foods. This nutrient is essential for the skin, heart, brain, gut, and more. As a supplement, it can improve blood lipids and skin complexion, while the effects on heart health are mixed. Read on to learn the benefits, food sources, dosage, and side effects of niacin.

What is Niacin?

Vitamin B3 exists in two different forms: nicotinamide and nicotinic acid – sometimes collectively termed “niacin”. This vitamin is essential for the nervous system, digestion, skin health, and more [1].

A variety of whole and processed, fortified foods contain significant amounts of niacin. Deficiency is rare in the western world and usually limited to chronic health conditions. On the other hand, people from poor regions may lack this vitamin due to general malnutrition [2].

1) Blood Lipids

Niacin can improve blood lipids in multiple ways. A solid body of clinical evidence confirmed its potential to:

  • Decrease LDL cholesterol [3, 4, 5, 6, 7]
  • Increases HDL cholesterol [3, 4, 5, 6, 7]
  • Decreases triglyceride levels and total cholesterol [5, 6, 7]

these results, the FDA approved prescription niacin products for irregular blood lipids (dyslipidemia). These products typically come in doses of 500 mg or higher. On the other hand, dietary supplements contain 250 mg or less and thus may not have significant effects [8].

Niacin can improve blood lipids in patients with metabolic syndrome and also HIV/AIDS-related dyslipidemia [9, 10, 11].

Despite its potential to improve blood lipids, niacin doesn’t seem to prevent heart disease or reduce mortality (more details to follow) [12, 13].

2) Niacin Deficiency/Pellagra

Symptoms of a mild niacin deficiency include [14]:

  • Indigestion
  • Fatigue
  • Canker sores
  • Nausea

Severe niacin deficiency causes pellagra, which manifests with dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia (known as the “three Ds”) [15].

Niacin (500-1000 mg daily) can resolve the symptoms within one week; it’s FDA-approved for the prevention and treatment of pellagra. Nicotinamide may be preferred over nicotinic acid because it doesn’t dilate the blood vessels and cause face flushing [16, 17].

3) Skin Health

When applied topically to the skin (5%), niacin reduced fine lines, wrinkles, redness, and skin yellowing in 50 women after 12 weeks. It also improved skin elasticity [18].

In 196 women, a regiment of different skincare products with niacin was better tolerated more effective in reducing facial wrinkles than a prescription (tretinoin) treatment [19].

A 4% niacin formulation significantly reduced wrinkles in the eye area in 30 Japanese women [20].

4) Cholera

Severe cholera can be lethal due to rapid fluid loss. In a study of 62 adults with cholera, 2 grams of niacin daily significantly reduced diarrhea and fluid loss [21].

Insufficient Evidence:

No valid clinical evidence supports the use of niacin for any of the conditions in this section. Below is a summary of up-to-date animal studies, cell-based research, or low-quality clinical trials which should spark further investigation. However, you shouldn’t interpret them as supportive of any health benefit.

Despite the promising initial results, there’s insufficient clinical evidence to rate the effectiveness of niacin for:

  • Atherosclerosis [22, 23]
  • Erectile dysfunction [24]
  • Alzheimer’s disease [25]
  • Cataract [26]

Heart Disease

Multiple older studies have indicated the potential of niacin – alone or in combination with other treatment options – to prevent heart disease and reduce related mortality [27, 28, 29, 30].

However, more recent trials and comprehensive clinical reviews (over 39,000 patients included) failed to confirm these findings [12, 13, 31, 32].

Niacin Side Effects

When taken in recommended daily amounts, niacin is ly safe for healthy adults and pregnant women [36].

Flushing of the face is the most common side effect. It can result in burning, tingling, itching, and redness of the face, as well as headaches. It can occur because niacin dilates blood vessels [37].

An overdose of niacin can cause thrombocytopenia or low blood platelet count. This can cause bruising and excessive bleeding [37].

Although there is no evidence that taking large doses of niacin can let you pass drug tests, there have been people who tried doing so. Niacin toxicity from extreme doses caused organ damage, fever, skin problems, and other health issues [38].

Niacin Sources

You can meet daily vitamin B3 needs through diet. It is most abundant in [1]:

  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Dairy products
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains


The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of niacin is 16 mg daily in adult men and 14 mg daily in adult women, which can easily be obtained from a normal diet since vitamin B3 is present in all animal, plant, and fungal food sources [1].

For supplementation, studies safely used up to 1,000 mg daily, divided into multiple doses with meals [27, 3, 4, 5, 16, 17].

However, niacin can be toxic at high doses. You should not take doses higher than the RDA except under your doctor’s supervision [39].


Niacin: Drug Uses, Dosage & Side Effects –

Health Benefits of Niacin (Vitamin B3) + Sources & Dosage

Generic Name: niacin (nicotinic acid) (NYE a sin (NIK oh TIN ik AS id))
Brand Names:B-3-50, B3-500-Gr, Niacin SR, Niacor, Niaspan ER, Slo-Niacin

Medically reviewed by Sanjai Sinha, MD Last updated on Mar 16, 2019.

What is niacin?

Niacin, also called nicotinic acid, is a B vitamin (vitamin B3). It occurs naturally in plants and animals, and is also added to many foods as a vitamin supplement. It is also present in many multiple vitamins and nutritional supplements.

Niacin is used to lower blood levels of “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) and triglycerides, and increase levels of “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL).

Niacin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

You should not take niacin if you have severe liver disease, a stomach ulcer, or active bleeding.

Niacin can cause certain side effects, such as flushing (warmth, itching, redness, or tingly feeling under your skin). These effects can be made worse if you drink alcohol or hot beverages shortly after you take this medicine. These effects should disappear over time as you keep taking the medication.

Avoid getting up too fast from a sitting or lying position, or you may feel dizzy. Get up slowly and steady yourself to prevent a fall.

Avoid taking colestipol (Colestid) or cholestyramine (Locholest, Prevalite, Questran) at the same time you take niacin. If you take either of these other medications, take them at least 4 to 6 hours before or after you take this medicine.

Niacin is only part of a complete program of treatment that may also include diet, exercise, weight control, and other medications. Follow your diet, medication, and exercise routines very closely.

Before taking this medicine

You should not take niacin if you are allergic to it.

To make sure you can safely take niacin, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • severe liver disease;
  • a stomach ulcer; or
  • active bleeding.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • liver disease;
  • heart disease, chest pain (angina);
  • gout; or
  • diabetes.

It is not known whether niacin will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

You should not breastfeed while using this medicine.

Niacin is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.

How should I take niacin ?

Use niacin exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Read all medication guides or instruction sheets.

Niacin can cause flushing (warmth, itching, redness, or tingly feeling under your skin). These effects should disappear over time as you keep taking the medicine. Flushing may be worse if you drink alcohol or hot beverages shortly after taking niacin.

Swallow the capsule or tablet whole and do not crush, chew, break, or open it.

Your dose needs may change if you switch to a different brand, strength, or form of this medicine. Avoid medication errors by using only the form and strength your doctor prescribes.

If you stop taking niacin for any length of time, talk with your doctor before starting the medication again. You may need to restart the medication at a lower dose.

This medicine can affect the results of certain medical tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using this medicine.

Niacin is only part of a complete treatment program that may also include diet, exercise, and weight control. Follow your diet, medication, and exercise routines very closely.

Your doctor may recommend you take aspirin or an NSAID (such as ibuprofen, Advil, or Aleve) to help prevent flushing. Keep using these medicines for as long as your doctor has prescribed.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking niacin ?

Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase your risk of liver damage, and can also worsen the flushing effects of niacin.

Avoid getting up too fast from a sitting or lying position, or you may feel dizzy.

Avoid eating foods high in fat or cholesterol, or niacin will not be as effective.

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to niacin: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • a light-headed feeling, you might pass out;
  • irregular heartbeats;
  • severe warmth or redness under your skin;
  • vision problems; or
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Common niacin side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect niacin?

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

  • statin cholesterol medication;
  • heart or blood pressure medication; or
  • other medicines that lower blood pressure.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with niacin, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use niacin only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Copyright 1996-2020 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 9.01.

  • How long does niacin stay in the human system?

Medical Disclaimer


Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Health Benefits of Niacin (Vitamin B3) + Sources & Dosage

Having enough niacin, or vitamin B3, in the body is important for general good health. As a treatment, higher amounts of niacin can improve cholesterol levels and lower cardiovascular risks.

As a cholesterol treatment, there are good studies showing that niacin can boost levels of good HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides. Niacin also modestly lowers bad LDL cholesterol. It's sometimes prescribed in combination with statins for cholesterol control, such as Crestor, Lescol, or Lipitor.

However, niacin is only effective as a cholesterol treatment at fairly high doses. These doses could pose risks, such as liver damage, gastrointestinal problems, or glucose intolerance. So don't treat yourself with over-the-counter niacin supplements. Instead, get advice from your health care provider, who can prescribe FDA-approved doses of niacin instead if recommended.

In addition, niacin is an FDA-approved treatment for pellagra, a rare condition that develops from niacin deficiency.

Since niacin can be used in different ways, talk to your health care provider about the best dosage for you.

Everyone needs a certain amount of niacin — from food or supplements — for the body to function normally. This amount is called the dietary reference intake (DRI), a term that is replacing the older and more familiar RDA (recommended daily allowance). For niacin, the DRIs vary with age and other factors and are given in milligrams of niacin equivalents: 

  • Children: between 2-16 milligrams daily, depending on age
  • Men: 16 milligrams daily
  • Women: 14 milligrams daily
  • Women (pregnant): 18 milligrams daily
  • Women (breastfeeding): 17 milligrams daily
  • Maximum daily intake for adults of all ages: 35 milligrams daily

Most people can get the amount of niacin they need by eating a healthy diet.

If your doctor prescribes niacin, you might want to take it with food. This can prevent upset stomach. To reduce flushing — a harmless but uncomfortable side effect of niacin that describes redness and warmth in the face and neck — your health care provider might recommend taking niacin along with aspirin, an NSAID painkiller, or an antihistamine until tolerance to the niacin develops.

Niacin occurs naturally in many foods, including greens, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, although in a fraction of the dose shown to achieve changes in cholesterol. Many products are also fortified with niacin during manufacturing.

  • Side effects. Niacin can cause flushing, especially when you first begin taking it. Your health care provider will probably suggest increasing the dose slowly to reduce this problem. He or she might also offer a time-release prescription formulation to control flushing. Niacin can cause upset stomach and diarrhea. However, all of these side effects tend to fade over time.
  • Risks. Niacin does have risks. It can cause liver problems, stomach ulcers, changes to glucose levels, muscle damage, low blood pressure, heart rhythm changes, and other issues. People with any health condition including liver or kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular problems need to talk to a doctor before using niacin supplements. Do not treat high cholesterol on your own with over-the-counter niacin supplements.
  • Interactions. If you take any medicines or supplements regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using niacin supplements. They could interact with medicines diabetes drugs, blood thinners, anticonvulsants, blood pressure medicines, thyroid hormones, and antibiotics as well as supplements ginkgo biloba and some antioxidants. Alcohol might increase the risk of liver problems. Though niacin is often used along with statins for high cholesterol, this combination may increase the risk for side effects. Get advice from your healthcare provider.

At the low DRI doses, niacin is safe for everyone. However, at the higher amounts used to treat medical conditions, it can have risks. For that reason, children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take niacin supplements in excess of the DRI unless it's recommended by a doctor. 

People with uncontrolled gout should also not take niacin supplements.


Fundukian, L., ed. The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, third edition, 2009.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: “Niacin.” 

Natural Standard Patient Monograph, “Niacin.”

Endotext [Internet]:  “Triglyceride Lowering Drugs: Niacin,” January 2017.

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


7 Health Benefits of Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Health Benefits of Niacin (Vitamin B3) + Sources & Dosage

Smriti Agarwal  |  Updated: July 06, 2018 17:09 IST

Vitamin B3 is also popularly known as Niacin. It is a very important nutrient as every part of the body needs it to function properly. Vitamin B3 or Niacin is primarily used to lower high cholesterol levels in the body. It is also used to treat respiratory or vascular disorders. Foods such as fish, nuts and chicken are good sources of this vitamin. It aids in good blood circulation, normal functioning of the brain and boosting memory. It is important to consume appropriate portions of this vitamin as an over dose might cause adverse affects to your health. Vitamin B3 or Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin that can travel through the human blood stream and thus the body has the option to discharge excess vitamins in form of urine. Therefore, such vitamins can be taken through both food and liquid items, since our body does need a constant supply. According to Delhi-based Nutritionist Dr. Simran Saini, “The prime benefit of Vitamin B3 is that it keeps your bones stronger by helping in the retention of calcium.”
1. Regulated digestionVitamin B3 helps in the normal functioning of the human digestive system which in turn promotes a healthy appetite and glowing skin. This vitamin is important for many digestive tract functions, which includes the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates and alcohol. Loading up on niacin or vitamin B3 can be super-helpful and how!

(Also read: 3 Simple Yoga Poses After Dinner That Can Boost Digestion)

 Health benefits of niacin: Vitamin B3 helps in the normal functioning of the human digestive system

2. Treats pellagra

People suffering from weak muscles, digestive problems, skin infections or pellagra mark a severe vitamin B3 deficiency. Pellagra is a disease caused by lack of the vitamin B3 in the body. These people need to incorporate an increased dosage of vitamin B3 though their diet or supplements as a part of their treatment. It is very important to consume more niacin rich food in order to avoid such a condition that may only worsen with time. 

3. Improves skin

Vitamin B3 or Niacin helps in protecting the skin from sun damage. It is often used in cosmetics and creams used for anti-ageing. It is known to reverse sun damage and discoloration that may occur due to ageing. This multi-tasking vitamin helps heal wounds, strengthens the skin and stimulate its power to retain moisture. 

(Also read: 5 Anti-Ageing Tips)

 Health benefits of niacin: Vitamin B3 or Niacin helps in protecting the skin from sun damage​

4. Reduces the symptoms of Arthritis

Vitamin B3 or Niacin helps in easing the symptoms of osteoarthritis. It improves joint mobility and prevents inflammation caused by arthritis. Its non-inflammatory properties help ease arthritis and boost brain function, among other benefits. Make sure you don't consume large doses of niacin as it may only reverse the good effects. 

(Also read: 7 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods You Must Add to Your Diet)

 Health benefits of niacin: Vitamin B3 or Niacin helps in easing the symptoms of osteoarthritis​

5. Prevents the risk of heart disease

This vitamin helps in managing the cholesterol levels in your body which further reduces the risk of heart disease. It also curbs oxidative stress and inflammation which can prove to be harmful for the heart as they tend to harden the arteries and obstruct blood flow. Niacin is known to dilate the blood vessels and improve blood flow. 

(Also read: 9 Common Causes of a Heart Attack)

 Health benefits of niacin: This vitamin helps in managing the cholesterol levels in your body​

6. Mental health

Vitamin B3 or Niacin supplements are often used to treat most disorders anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. People with depression are usually found to be deficient in Vitamin B. Moreover, low levels of neurotransmitter serotonin often leads to depression. Serotonin requires amino acid tryptophan which is actually made with the help of Vitamin B3 or Niacin. 

(Also read: 25 Signs of Depression in Teenagers)

 Health benefits of niacin: Vitamin B3 or Niacin supplements are often used to treat most disorders anxiety
7. Diabetes

Niacin is helps in treating diabetes and high blood sugar levels. Most diabetic patients are able to effectively control HBA1C levels and benefit with the help of niacin. Niacin is not only helpful at reducing total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides, but also is safe for diabetics, of course under supervision. 

 Health benefits of niacin: Niacin is helps in treating diabetesAs per the Food Nutrition Board of the United States, adults over the age of 18 years require about 14-18 milligrams niacin daily. 


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The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.


What You Should Know About Niacin Supplements

Health Benefits of Niacin (Vitamin B3) + Sources & Dosage

Niacin is a form of vitamin B, specifically B3 (nicotinic acid). It is a water-soluble vitamin important for proper cell function in the body. Niacin has been studied for its potential to treat an array of diseases including Alzheimer's disease, cataracts, erectile dysfunction, and sickle cell disease with little success.

At one time, doctors prescribed niacin to help manage cholesterol in people with cardiovascular disease. However, after a 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that niacin provided no benefit to people with high cholesterol, the practice was stopped.

Today, niacin is used mainly to treat niacin deficiency, which if severe can lead to pellagra, a disease characterized by diarrhea, skin lesions, and dementia. Niacin deficiency is most ly to develop as a result of malnutrition, poverty, or chronic alcoholism.

Most people get enough niacin in their diets to prevent a deficiency, particularly from foods yeast, meat, fish, milk, eggs, green vegetables, and fortified cereal. However, if your doctor or nutritionist says you need more vitamin B3 in your diet, there are things to consider in order to choose the appropriate niacin supplement.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 14 milligrams (mg) of niacin per day for women and 16 mg of niacin day for men from all sources.

Immediate-release (IR) nicotinic acid, also known as “fast-release” nicotinic acid, empties the entire dose into the bloodstream as soon as it's swallowed. For this reason, IR nicotinic acid is more ly than other forms of the vitamin to cause side effects.

Some bottles of nicotinic acid may not state if they contain an “immediate-release” or a “sustained-release” (see below) product. If the label doesn't say which form of nicotinic acid is in the bottle, it's safe to assume that it's an IR product.

This form of nicotinic acid is available by prescription under the brand names Niaspan or Niacor, as well as generically. There also is a controlled-release version called Slo-Niacin that's sold over the counter and may be less expensive.

Extended-release (ER) nicotinic acid is released into the body more slowly than the IR type. Extended-release nicotinic acid may cause side effects but these are ly to be less severe than those associated with the IR form.

Sustained-release (SR) nicotinic acid, also known as “timed-release” nicotinic acid, releases nicotinic acid into the body over a period of time rather than all at once. It may still cause side effects, but they're ly to be milder than those brought on by immediate-release supplements.

An SR nicotinic acid supplement will take longer to clear the body than either an IR form or an extended-release (ER) form. For this reason, SR nicotinic acid comes with the risk of liver toxicity.

If you have a liver disease such as cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis B or C infection, it's best not to take sustained-release niacin and to opt for an immediate- or extended-release formulation instead.

Niacin supplements are safe for most people, but there are some potential side effects to be aware of. The most common is flushing—warmth, tingling, itching, and redness of the face, arms, and chest. This symptom may be accompanied by headache, dizziness, rash, and/or a decrease in blood pressure.

The side effects of nicotinic acid can be aggravating and, in some cases, intolerable, but usually subside after a couple of weeks. In the meantime, there are ways to mitigate them.

  • Ease into a full dose. For instance, if you are supposed to take 500 mg per day, take 250 mg the first few days and gradually increase to full strength as tolerated.
  • Switch formulations.

    If immediate-release niacin causes problems, you may find you can better tolerate an OTC sustained-release formulation or an extended-release formulation since the niacin is delivered gradually rather than all at once.

  • Divide the dose. Rather than take the entire dose all at once, take half in the morning and half at night.

    (Although you can physically split an immediate-release niacin tablet in two, never cut, chew, or dissolve a sustained- or extended-release tablet.)

  • Avoid alcohol and hot beverages. Both can make side effects worse. Until they fully resolve, cut back on alcohol and hot coffee, tea, or other drinks as much as you can or stop altogether.

  • Take aspirin. Studies have shown that taking aspirin 30 minutes before or at the same time as niacin can decrease the intensity and duration of flushing by 30% to 40%.
  • Try flush-free niacin. This combination supplement contains nicotinamide and inositol hexaniacinate.

    Although better tolerated than other forms of niacin, research has shown that “flush-free” niacin is no better than a placebo at improving cholesterol and other lipid levels.

High doses of nicotinic acid (more than 3 grams per day) may cause severe side effects, including liver damage, gout, gastrointestinal ulcers, vision loss, high blood sugar, irregular heartbeat, and other serious problems. High-dose niacin also has been associated with an increased risk of stroke.

There is not enough scientific data to determine a recommended dose of niacin or nicotinic acid. If your doctor prescribes nicotinic acid for you, they will base the dose on factors such as your age, gender, and medical history.

Before taking over-the-counter niacin, talk to your healthcare provider to make sure it makes sense for you to do so. Together you can determine the optimal formulation and dose.

Whether you're buying niacin over the counter or will be taking it by prescription, don't think of it as “only a supplement.” It is still a form of medication that has risks and side effects. Report any significant side effects to your doctor right away.

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  1. Pikto pietkiewicz I. [Summary of the article: Boden EW, Probstfield LJ, Anderson T et al. Niacin in patients with low LDL cholesterol levels receiving intensive statin therapy. New Engl J Med, 10.1056/NEJMoa1107579]. Kardiol Pol. 2012;70(3):313-4. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1107579

  2. Office of Dietary Supplements. Niacin: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated July 9, 2019.

  3. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2015) Appendix 7. Nutritional Goals for Age-Sex Groups Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines Recommendations. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

  4. Kamanna VS, Ganji SH, Kashyap ML. The mechanism and mitigation of niacin-induced flushing. Int J Clin Pract. 2009;63(9):1369–1377. doi:10.1111/j.1742-1241.2009.02099.x

  5. Cefali EA, Simmons PD, Stanek EJ, et al. Aspirin Reduces Cutaneous Flushing After Administration of an Optimized Extended-Release Niacin Formulation. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 2007;45(2):78-88. doi:10.5414/cpp45078

  6. Keenan JM. Wax-matrix extended-release niacin vs inositol hexanicotinate: a comparison of wax-matrix, extended-release niacin to inositol hexanicotinate “no-flush” niacin in persons with mild to moderate dyslipidemia. J Clin Lipidol. 2013 Jan-Feb;7(1):14-23. doi:10.1016/j.jacl.2012.10.004