- by Dr Sheetal Chhabria
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- Feb 22 2017
Health Benefits of Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Niacin also known as vitamin B3 is a water-soluble vitamin that is a part of the coenzymes that assist with energy metabolism. Basic types of vitamin B3 include nicotinamide, nicotinic acid, and several active enzymatic forms, each of which can be obtained from food. A niacin deficiency will lead to pellagra, a deadly disease characterized by diarrhea, dementia, dermatitis, poor concentration, anxiety and depression. A few health benefits of Vitamin B3 are as follows:
Dermatitis or irritated, flaky skin is a symptom of niacin deficiency. There is also some evidence that niacin may help prevent skin cancer and maybe even improve the appearance of wrinkles. Most of the effects of niacin on the skin have been seen when it is applied topically to the affected area, but getting sufficient niacin in your diet can also help with preventing irritation.
High doses of niacin have been used to help improve cholesterol levels in people who cannot tolerate statins. Niacin can raise good cholesterol (HDL) by up to 35%. Niacin has also been shown to naturally lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of a heart attack and stroke.
Relief of Arthritis Pain
Since niacin plays a role in increasing blood flow to certain areas, it can also help relieve arthritis pain by encouraging blood flow to painful areas. It seems to help improve joint flexibility and reduce pain. Aim to eat niacin rich foods for this effect, but do not take high doses of the vitamin unless recommended by your doctor.
High dosages can produce a niacin flush on the skin, which can be painful for some people. One should not take high doses of niacin if they are not under the care of a doctor because excessive niacin can lead to liver damage and digestive problems.
Like the other B complex vitamins, niacin is important in energy production. Two unique forms of vitamin B3 (called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD, and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate, or NADP) are essential for conversion of dietary proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into usable energy. Niacin is also used to synthesize starch that can be stored in muscles and liver for eventual use as an energy source.
The same niacin-containing enzymes that are involved in energy metabolism, NAD and NADP, work by quenching free radicals. This process is not only important in energy production, but in protecting your body against excessive tissue damage. While most lay person nutrition sources omit niacin from the list of dietary antioxidants, researchers are aware of this connection, and have studied it extensively, particularly in people with diabetes.
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