Vitamin B3 (Nicotinamide, Niacin, Niacinamide)
Vitamin B3 is an essential water-soluble vitamin that has many uses within the body.
Amongst its vital roles are:
- converting food into energy
- the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates
- detoxifying certain chemicals
- keeping the skin healthy
- maintaining proper functioning of the nervous system and digestive tract
There is some evidence that Vitamin B3 may ease anxiety and help maintain cognitive functions such as concentration and memory.
Our bodies cannot produce all the Vitamin B3 they require.
The body can make Vitamin B3 from amino acid, and normally about 60% of B3 used is made by the body. The other 40% must be come from foods and supplements. Depletion can occur quite rapidly so regular, preferably daily, intake is required.
Processing, cooking, and defrosting will remove niacin from foods
Vitamin B3 occurs in low concentrations in many natural foods, but is quite easily lost. Foods that are a good source of Vitamin B3 include: beef, pork, eggs, and milk
Your lifestyle may increase the risk of deficiency
Aside from a poor diet, deficiencies can occur due to:
- tea and coffee consumption
- alcohol intake
- heavy exercise
- high stress
Severe Vitamin B3 deficiency is rare, but even a moderate deficit has health consequences. Some of the symptoms of mild deficiency are similar for all B Group vitamins:
- energy production is reduced which can cause tiredness, irritability, fatigue, and apathy.
- nervous system symptoms such as muscle weakness, cramps and numbness.
In addition, mild Vitamin B3 deficiency may cause: rashes and dermatitis, especially around the mouth, poor appetite, indigestion, and diarrhoea.
|Age||Estimated Average Requirements (EAR)||Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)|
|Women||11 mg/day||14 mg/day|
|Men||12 mg/day||16 mg/day|
|Girls||14-18 yr||11 mg/day||14 mg/day|
|Boys||14-18 yr||12 mg/day||16 mg/day|
|Girls||9-13 yr||9 mg/day||12 mg/day|
|Boys||9-13 yr||9 mg/day||12 mg/day|
|Children||4-8 yr||6 mg/day||8 mg/day|
|Children||1-3 yr||5 mg/day||6 mg/day|
* Source: Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand. National health and Medical Research Council
An upper level of intake of 900 mg/day of nicotinamide for men and non-pregnant, adult women is suggested. Large doses (3000mg/day) of nicotinamide appear to be well tolerated.
There is a lack of data on the safety of nicotinamide in pregnancy and lactation, and no relevant animal data. This level does not therefore apply to pregnant and lactating women.