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Learn About Vitamin B3 in 5 Minutes

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What is vitamin B3?

Vitamin B3, or niacin, is an essential component of the B vitamin complex. It is one of the most bioactive B vitamins, and it shows promise as a treatment for bad cholesterol, neurodegenerative disease, arthritis, and even skin cancer.

  • Reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol
  • Helps prevent heart disease to improve your longevity and overall health
  • Improves cognition and neurological health
  • Improves your skin health
  • Reduces inflammation and pushes back against the symptoms of arthritis
  • Shows promise as a treatment for diabetes


Why we love vitamin B3

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is one of the true powerhouses of the vitamin B complex. This substance has dozens of proven benefits, and it’s one of the most well-studied nutrients.

By reducing your levels of bad cholesterol and boosting your levels of good cholesterol, vitamin B3 keeps your veins, arteries, and heart healthy. You can use this vitamin to treat a variety of neurological conditions ranging from brain fog to schizophrenia.

Better yet, niacin also improves your skin health by protecting skin cells from UV damage. All in all, the evidence is compelling you should include vitamin B3 in your diet on a daily basis and Feel provides you with the exact dose of this vitamin you need to stay healthy.


Unbelievable benefits of vitamin B3

Researchers have conducted nearly 300 studies to firmly establish the medical benefits of vitamin B3. Here are some of the key findings:

Cardiovascular Benefits

LDL-C is one of the most harmful forms of cholesterol, and research strongly indicates that supplementing with vitamin B3 significantly reduces your LDL-C levels. At the same time, vitamin B3 increases your HDL-C levels, which improves the health of your heart and veins.

Vitamin B3 is a potent anti-inflammatory substance, which means that this substance reduces your risk of inflammation-related coronary conditions like atherosclerosis. Some research suggests that niacin reduces your risk of heart disease all across the board.

Neurological Benefits

Your body uses vitamin B3 to produce the enzymes NAD and NADP, which are vital to the operation of your nervous system. Severe vitamin B3 deficiency can cause a condition called pellagra, which is characterized by mental disturbance. Even if you don’t have pellagra, supplementing with vitamin B3 can improve your overall cognition and reduce brain fog.

Niacin deficiency may contribute to the development of schizophrenia, and supplementation with niacin appears to reverse these deficiency-related schizophrenic symptoms. Preliminary evidence also suggests that vitamin B3 may reduce the neurological issues that lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Skin Benefits

When you have enough vitamin B3 in your system, your skin can protect itself from the harmful effects of UV rays. This protective effect occurs whether you ingest niacin orally or apply it topically.

In addition, recent research suggests that high-risk individuals who supplemented with niacin experienced lower rates of skin melanomas than the control group.

Diabetes Benefits

Niacin supplementation appears to lower the risk of type I diabetes in children. People with type II diabetes usually have increased LDL-C cholesterol levels, and since vitamin B3 reduces the levels of this type of cholesterol in the body, people with this type of diabetes experience symptom reductions when they supplement with vitamin B3.

Other Benefits

Vitamin B3 supplementation appears to reduce the inflammation that causes arthritic pain. Supplementing with this vitamin may reduce the need for NSAIDs in patients with arthritis.


Is vitamin B3 water-soluble or fat-soluble?

Niacin is water-soluble. Therefore, this nutrient doesn’t build up in your system, and like all B vitamins, your body flushes niacin out through your urine relatively quickly.


Where can vitamin B3 be found naturally?

Niacin is present in most animal-based foods. Plant-based sources of niacin contain much less of this substance, but it's present in many grains, legumes, and nuts.


5 foods/drinks containing vitamin B3

1. Beef liver 75% DV per 85g

2. Lentils 5% DV per cup

3. Green peas 20% DV per cup

4. Brown rice 26% DV per 1 cup or 128g

5. Peanuts 21% DV per 28g


What is the recommended daily intake for vitamin B3?

The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), which is a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has set the recommended daily amount (RDA) for niacin at 16mg for males and 14mg for females. Women who are pregnant need 18mg of vitamin B3, and women who are lactating need 17mg.


What to consume to get a full daily dose of vitamin B3?

Beef liver - approximately 113g

Lentils - approximately 20 cups

Green peas - approximately 2 cups

Brown rice - approximately 4 cups or 512g

Peanuts - approximately 142g


Can you absorb enough of vitamin B3 from food?

Even if you eat meat products, getting your RDA of niacin can be extremely difficult. This substance is incredibly important to your health and well-being, but even the richest animal sources of this nutrient must be consumed in great quantities to meet your recommended daily vitamin B3 intake. Therefore, it might be necessary to take niacin in supplements to avoid becoming deficient.


Why is vitamin B3 necessary for your body?

Your body automatically converts the niacin you consume into this nutrient’s metabolically active form, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). Your body uses NAD to perform over 400 enzymatic functions, which makes vitamin B3 the most bioactive vitamin by sheer numbers. One example of a function of NAD is the conversion of potential energy in macronutrients into adenosine, which is your body’s main carrier of energy.


Functions of vitamin B3

Energy processing: Your body uses the entire B complex to turn nutrients into energy, but the NAD produced from vitamin B3 is the most active component in this process.

Cholesterol reduction: Adequate vitamin B3 consumption reduces your LDL-C levels, which is the most prevalent and harmful form of bad cholesterol.

Neurological functions: In addition to energy processing, your body also uses NAD for proper neurological functioning.

Dermatological functions: Vitamin B3 offers UV protection, and it appears that this nutrient can even reduce your risk of developing skin melanomas.


Symptoms of vitamin B3 deficiency

Pellagra and Brain Fog

Severe niacin deficiency causes pellagra, which is characterised by severe mental disturbance. Even minor vitamin B3 deficiency can cause brain fog, memory issues, and difficulty concentrating. Deficiency in this nutrient can also cause depression.

Sunlight-Induced Skin Rash

Since vitamin B3 is essential for UV protection, deficiency in this nutrient can cause a thick, scaly rash on any part of your body that is exposed to sunlight.

Swollen Mouth and Tongue Discolouration

Severe vitamin B3 deficiency can result in swelling in your gums, tongue, and the roof of your mouth. Deficiency in this nutrient also causes your tongue to become bright red.


How long do you need to take vitamin B3 to start experiencing its benefits if you’re deficient?

Since this nutrient is water-soluble, your body absorbs it quickly, and improvements in vitamin B3 deficiency symptoms generally occur rapidly after supplementation begins. The complications associated with severe niacin deficiency, however, can take weeks, months, or even years to heal.


How long does it take for your body to digest/absorb vitamin B3?

Like most B vitamins, your body absorbs almost all the vitamin B3 you consume.


How long does vitamin B3 stay in your body after you take it?

In most cases, your body absorbs and excretes niacin within 24 hours, but certain dietary choices can cause this nutrient to stay in your body for significantly longer.


Is vitamin B3 an antioxidant?

Research indicates that vitamin B3 has antioxidant properties. Therefore, this nutrient fights back against the activity of free radicals in your body and protects your DNA integrity.


Can you overdose on vitamin B3? What are the effects?

Since niacin is a water-soluble nutrient, it is hard to overdose on this nutrient. However, it’s easier to overdose on vitamin B3 than it is to overdose on other B vitamins, and research indicates that this nutrient is toxic to your liver in high quantities.

Other symptoms of niacin overdose include rapid heartbeat, abdominal pain, skin flushing, or even gout. Limit your consumption of niacin to your RDA to avoid these dangerous conditions.


Does vitamin B3 dissolve, flush out, or build up in the body?

As a water-soluble vitamin, niacin dissolves quickly, and it doesn’t build up in your body.


Can you take vitamin B3 during a diet?

Consuming adequate levels of this essential nutrient does not interfere with any dietary restrictions.


Are there synthetic forms of vitamin B3?

There are no purely synthetic types of vitamin B3, but most forms of this essential used for supplementation are created in laboratory conditions. Examples of semi-synthetic forms of niacin include nicotinamide, nicotinic acid, and nicotinamide riboside.


Why might synthetic forms of vitamin B3 be better?

The various semi-synthetic forms of niacin are more bioavailable than the type of this nutrient that is found in plant and animal sources.


Absorption rate of synthetic vitamin B3

Semi-synthetic vitamin B3 appears to have a better absorption rate than food-based forms of this substance.


Why might natural forms of vitamin B3 be better?

There are no known advantages to food-based niacin as compared to laboratory-derived forms of this nutrient.


How to take vitamin B3

You can either consume vitamin B3 in food or ingest this nutrient in supplement form.


Vitamin B3 trends in medicine

Until recently, medical scientists thought that administration of niacin on its own was an effective form of therapy for cardiovascular disease. In some cases, patients would consume as much as 1000mg of niacin per day. Recent research, however, clearly demonstrates that consuming high levels of niacin is dangerous. This 2019 study confirms what we already knew; you should only consume vitamin B3 in moderation.


Why everyone should be taking WeAreFeel supplements

Here at WeAreFeel, we have a healthy respect for essential vitamins and minerals. Your body can’t get by without these nutrients, but if you consume them in unreasonably high quantities, you can experience dangerous overdose symptoms.

That’s why we stick to the basics and only include your RDA of niacin in Feel. While it’s hard to get the vitamin B3 you need from food, it’s equally hard to recover from the effects of niacin overdose; keep things simple and get exactly how much niacin you need every day with a capsule of Feel!


Here’s the Proof

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About the author
WeAreFeel Nutrition Team - All content provided on our blog is created exclusively for our readers by our research and nutrition team. We try to provide as much scientific backing as possible with references to support any claims made.
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