Niacin

Image for niacin Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins are stored in the body in very limited amounts and are excreted through the urine. Therefore, it is a good idea to have them in your daily diet. In addition to getting niacin from dietary sources, the body can synthesize a form of niacin from the amino acid tryptophan.

Functions

Niacin’s functions include:
  • Aiding in the catabolism (breakdown) of carbohydrate, fat, protein, and alcohol to produce energy
  • Supplying energy to all body cells
  • Assisting in fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis
  • Helping the formation of red blood cells
  • Assisting in the metabolism of several drugs and toxins
  • Maintaining the integrity of all body cells

Recommended Intake:

Age Group (in years) Recommended Dietary Allowance
Males Females
1-3 6 mg 6 mg
4-8 8 mg 8 mg
9-13 12 mg 12 mg
14 and older 16 mg 14 mg
Pregnancy n/a 18 mg
Lactating n/a 17 mg

Niacin Deficiency

A niacin deficiency is called pellagra. The most common symptoms affect the skin, the digestive system, and the nervous system. Symptoms of niacin deficiency include:
  • Thick, dark, scaly pigmented rash on skin areas exposed to sunlight, heat, or mild trauma
  • Bright red tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Disorientation
If left untreated, pellagra can lead to death.

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