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Vitamin B-3, also called niacin, is one of eight water-soluble B vitamins. All B vitamins help the body to convert carbohydrates into glucose (sugar), which is "burned" to produce energy. These B vitamins, often referred to as B complex vitamins, are essential in the breakdown of fats and protein. B complex vitamins also play an important role in maintaining muscle tone along the digestive tract and promoting the health of the nervous system, skin, hair, eyes, mouth, and liver.
Niacin plays an important role in ridding the body of toxic and harmful chemicals. It also helps the body make various sex and stress-related hormones in the adrenal glands and other parts of the body. Niacin is effective in improving circulation and reducing cholesterol levels in the blood. Niacin needs can be partially met by eating foods containing protein because the human body is able to convert tryptophan, an amino acid, into niacin.
Dietary deficiency of niacin tends to only occur in areas of the world where people eat corn as a staple and don't use lime in fertilization. Corn is the only grain that is low in niacin. Lime releases tryptophan which, again, can be converted to niacin in the body. Symptoms of mild deficiency include indigestion, fatigue, canker sores, vomiting, and depression. Severe deficiency of both niacin and tryptophan can cause a condition known as pellagra. Pellagra is characterized by cracked, scaly skin, dementia, and diarrhea. It is generally treated with a nutritionally balanced diet and niacin supplements. Niacin deficiency also results in burning in the mouth and a swollen, bright red tongue In the United States alcoholism is the prime cause of Vitamin B3 deficiency.
Niacin is commonly used to lower elevated LDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglyceride (fat) levels in the blood and is more effective in increasing HDL ("good") levels than other cholesterol-lowering medications. However. High doses of niacin produce the side effects of flushing of the skin (which can be reduced by taking aspirin 30 minutes before the niacin), stomach upset (which usually subsides in a few weeks), headache, dizziness, blurred vision, and liver damage.
High doses of niacin medications are used to prevent development of atherosclerosis (plaque along the blood vessels that can cause blockage) and to reduce recurrent complications such as heart attack and peripheral vascular disease (atherosclerosis of the blood vessels in the legs that can cause pain with walking, called intermittent claudication) in those with the condition. According to a review of major clinical trials, the use of niacin for prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis and related conditions is "based on strong and consistent evidence" and appears to be as effective as certain medications for heart disease. Studies also suggest that high dose niacin may help relieve the symptoms of claudication – namely diminish the pain experienced with walking.
Because diabetes is often associated with atherosclerosis and heart disease, people with diabetes may benefit from nutrients that help manage elevated cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Although niacin has been shown to boost HDL cholesterol and decrease triglyceride and LDL levels, there has been some concern that it may also raise blood sugar levels. In a recent study of 125 people with diabetes and 343 people without the condition, high doses of niacin (roughly 3000 mg/day), increased blood sugar in both groups, but hemoglobin A1C (considered a better measure of blood sugar over time) actually decreased in the diabetes group over a 60-week follow-up period. For this reason, if you have diabetes, niacin should only be used under the close monitoring of a qualified health care provider.
Some preliminary studies suggest that vitamin B3, as niacinamide, may improve arthritis symptoms, including increasing joint mobility and reducing the amount of anti-inflammatory medications needed. Researchers speculate that niacinamide may aid cartilage repair (damage to joint cartilage causes arthritis) and suggest that it may be used safely along with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications) to reduce inflammation.
Dietary vitamin B3, along with other nutrients is important for normal vision and prevention of cataracts (damage to the lens of the eye which can lead to cloudy vision.) One study including 2900 people living in Australia found that people who consumed the most protein, vitamin A, and vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2, and B3 (niacin) in their diets were significantly less likely to develop cataracts. A follow-up study also found that many supplemental B complex vitamins (including B12, B9, B3, B2, and B1) exert a protective effect against cataracts.
It is especially important for people who have sustained serious burns to obtain adequate amounts of nutrients in their daily diet. When skin is burned, a substantial percentage of micronutrients may be lost. This increases the risk for infection, slows the healing process, prolongs the hospital stay, and even increases the risk of death. Although it is unclear which micronutrients are most beneficial for people with burns, many studies suggest that a multivitamin including the B complex vitamins may aid in the recovery process.
An interesting area of research currently underway is the use of niacin skin care products as anti-aging agents, for treatment of acne, and, possibly, for prevention of skin cancer. Dermatologists expect that there will be information emerging about topical forms of niacin for these purposes over the next few years.
Benefits and Uses
• works with other vitamins in the B complex to process calories from carbohydrates, protein and fat
• plays essential roles in energy metabolism
• promotes proper digestion
• important for general good health
• essential for the activity of many enzymes in the body
• assists the production of sex and adrenal hormones
• treats a host of conditions, diseases and illnesses
|Serving Size:||1 capsule|
|Per Container:||100 capsules|
|Ingredients (Amount Per Serving)||500 mg Niacin (as Niacinamide) (Vitamin B-3)|
Free of: yeast, wheat, corn, soy, milk, sugar,salt, colors, preservatives
|Directions||As a dietary supplement, take one capsule daily, preferably with meals.|