Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Niacin is a type of B vitamin, also known as vitamin B3. It can be naturally found in meat and fish, but it's also added to many foods.

History

Niacin is a vitamin that was first isolated from rice bran in 1949. It was the first vitamin to be synthesized, which opened up the door for other vitamins to be synthesized as well. Niacin is also a component of NAD+, which is essential for metabolism.

Benefits

  • Helps the body make energy from food.
  • Helps the body use carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
  • Lowers high cholesterol levels in your blood by increasing how much HDL (good) cholesterol you have and decreasing how much LDL (bad) cholesterol you have in your blood.
  • May help keep skin healthy by strengthening its barrier function to protect against harsh environmental elements such as pollution, wind and sun damage, or other irritants that can compromise skin’s natural barrier against moisture loss or damage by free radicals (molecules that cause premature aging).

Safety

When taken orally in appropriate amounts, niacin is safe for consumption. A severe deficiency of niacin can lead to memory loss and dementia, while a minor deficiency may include headaches, brain fog, fatigue, and depression. There is ongoing research about the role of niacin therapy in schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Conclusion

Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin with a number of essential functions. It's found in all living cells, where it helps convert food into energy. But it also has far-reaching effects on everything from your brain function to your heartbeat and blood pressure levels.