Niacin also known as vitamin B3 is a water-soluble vitamin that is a part of the coenzymes that assist with energy metabolism. A niacin deficiency will lead to pellagra, a deadly disease characterized by diarrhea, dementia, dermatitis, poor concentration, anxiety and depression.
Pellagra was common in the 1700s when corn from the New World became a staple food and a primary source of carbohydrates in European diets. Pellagra is still seen in undernourished and impoverished populations.
Alcoholics are at risk for developing niacin deficiency as well as people with HIV/AIDS.
Possibly those with the highest risk of a vitamin B3 Niacin deficiency are those who consume mostly a diet of processed foods. Sugary foods, processed grains, white bread, white flour, wheat products and corn syrup can cause inadequate Niacin levels.
The RDA for niacin is 16 mg/day for men and 14 mg/day for women. The daily value is 20 mg.
If you think you may have a niacin deficiency make sure to eat these high niacin foods daily.
Top 10 Niacin Rich Foods
1 breast: 101 mg (over 100% DV)
2) Chicken breast
3 oz: 8.9 mg (44% DV)
1 cup: 21.9 mg (over 100% DV)
1 cup: 7.6 mg (34% DV)
1 slice: 11.9 mg (60% DV)
3 oz: 11.3 mg (56% DV)
7) Green peas
1 cup: 3 mg (15% DV)
8) Grass-fed Beef
3oz: 7.6 mg (36% DV)
9) Sunflower seeds
1 cup: 3.8 mg (19% DV)
1 whole fruit: 3.5 (17% DV)
Top Health Benefits of Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
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.