Niacin

Niacin (vitamin B3) is an essential water-soluble B vitamin that can be found in turkey, chicken, pork, fortified foods (cereals, breads), beans, and seeds.1 Dietary tryptophan (an essential amino acid) can also be converted to niacin.2 The 100% Daily Value for Niacin (based on a 2,000 kcal diet) is 20 mg,3 but it has been revised to 16 mg as of May 27, 2016.11 The 100% Daily Value for pregnant or lactating women is 18 mg, effective as of July 26, 2018.11

Forms

  • Niacinamide: Niacinamide (also called nicotinamide) is one of the forms of Vitamin B3 and formed when nicotinic acid is reacted with ammonia to produce the amide form of niacin. The liver can synthesize niacin from the essential amino acid tryptophan, requiring 60 mg of tryptophan to make one milligram of niacin.

Major Health Benefits

Niacin functions in the body as a component of coenzymes that are essential for energy metabolism for carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Niacin has been found to help reduce fatigue and tiredness.4 Niacin also plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin, mucous membranes, and nervous system.5 Niacin has also been found to reduce inflammation and improve function of Beta cells in individuals with Type 1 Diabetes.8

Pellagra is a niacin deficiency syndrome that can cause problems in the digestive tract (typically diarrhea), mental and psychological problems including dementia, and skin dermatitis.6,7 Individuals suffering from metabolic disorders (e.g., anorexia nervosa), cancer (especially those going through long term chemotherapy), HIV, and defective tryptophan absorption are more susceptible to niacin deficiency.10

Cautions

Excessive intake of niacin in the form of nicotinic acid may lead to flushing on the face or other areas of the body.9

References

  1. Higdon, J. Niacin. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. 2000. (Reviewed by Jacobson, EL in 2013) (Food Sources) http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/niacin Accessed 7/2015.
  2. Higdon, J. Niacin. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. 2000. (Reviewed by Jacobson, EL in 2013) (Tryptophan Metabolism)
  3. US Food and Drug Administration. Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide (14. Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients). US Department of Health and Human Services. 2013 January. http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm064928.htm
  4. European Food Safety Authority. Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to niacin and energy-yielding metabolism, function of the nervous system, maintenance of the skin and mucous membranes, maintenance of normal LDL-cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, maintenance of bone, maintenance of teeth, maintenance of hair, and maintenance of nails. EFSA Journal 2009;7(9):1224.
  5. European Food Safety Authority. Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to niacin and reduction of tiredness and fatigue, contribution to normal energy-yielding metabolism, contribution to normal psychological functions, maintenance of normal blood flow, and maintenance of normal skin and mucous membranes. EFSA Journal 2010;8(10):1757.
  6. Nogueira A, Duarte AF, Magina S, Azevedo F. Pellagra associated with esophageal carcinoma and alcoholism. Dermatol Online J. 2009 May 15;15(5):8. PMID: 19624986
  7. Hegyi J, Schwartz RA, Hegyi V. Pellagra: dermatitis, dementia, and diarrhea. Int J Dermatol. 2004 Jan;43(1):1-5. PMID: 14693013.
  8. Lampeter EF, Klinghammer A, Scherbaum WA, Heinze E, Haastert B, Giani G, Kolb H. The Deutsche Nicotinamide Intervention Study: an attempt to prevent type 1 diabetes. DENIS Group. Diabetes. 1998 Jun;47(6):980-4. PMID: 9604880.
  9. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Niacin. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press; 1998: 123-149. (pp. 123)
  10. Higdon, J. Niacin. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. 2000. (Reviewed by Jacobson, EL in 2013) (Causes of Niacin Deficiency)
  11. US Food and Drug Administration. Food Labeling: Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels. US Department of Health and Human Services. Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 103, p. 33982 / May 27, 2016. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-05-27/pdf/2016-11867.pdf