Vitamin B3 is one of 8 B vitamins. It is also known as niacin (nicotinic acid) and has 2 other forms, niacinamide (nicotinamide) and inositol hexanicotinate, which have different effects from niacin itself.
Niacin, also known commonly as vitamin B3, aids many different metabolic processes in the body. It works by providing energy on a cellular level and by maintaining cell health, which is essential for just about every process within the body.
Niacin (Vitamin B3) is a water-soluble vitamin essential for human health. The main function of this vitamin B3 in human body is to transform carbohydrate into energy.
The potent B-vitamin helps to spread the energy from cells to the entire body. At the same time, the vitamin helps retaining the integrity of the blood cells. One should add adequate amount of Vitamin B3 in regular diet chart to ensure more energy along with numerous other notable health benefits.
One key health benefit of niacin is that regular consumption prevents carbohydrate turning into fat, and this way indirectly helps you healthy, stay fit, and keep active all day long.
The use of FDA-approved Vitamin B3 (nicotinic acid or vitamin B3) formulations at therapeutic doses, alone or in combination with statins or other lipid therapies, is safe, improves multiple lipid parameters, and reduces atherosclerosis progression.
Here are six important health benefits of niacin:
Circulation and Heart Health
It reduces the blood fats called “very low density lipoproteins,” which have been linked to heart disease and cancer. It improves the blood sugar problems that can lead to damage of the arterial walls. It dilates blood vessels, which improves the circulation to areas starved of oxygen and nutrients. The list of Niacin benefits goes on and on—and if that wasn’t enough, the stuff is dirt cheap!
If you’ve got heart or circulation problems, you can save yourself a lot of money, and maybe even your life, by discussing the enormous benefits of Vitamin B3 with your doctor.
Niacin seems to lower cholesterol, not niacinamide. Some niacin products are FDA-approved prescription products for treating high cholesterol. These prescription Vitamin B3 products typically come in highly concentrated strengths of 500 mg or higher. Dietary supplement forms of niacin usually come in strengths of 250 mg or less. Since very high doses of niacin are required for high cholesterol, dietary supplement niacin usually isn’t appropriate.
The effect of niacin on type 2 diabetes is more complicated. People with type 2 diabetes often have high levels of fats and cholesterol in the blood. Vitamin B3, often along with other medications, can lower those levels. However, it may also raise blood sugar levels, which is particularly dangerous for someone with diabetes. For that reason, if you have diabetes, you should take B3 only under the direction of your doctor, and you should be carefully monitored for high blood sugar.
Lower Blood Pressure
Niacin may also reduce blood pressure (BP), which is another important CVD risk factor. This review examines the limited publicly available data on niacin’s Blood Pressure effects. More recent data of large numbers of B3-treated patients also support these findings.
Studies have shown that vitamin B3 niacin can help protect against Alzheimer’s Disease and other age related brain disorders that result in cognitive decline.
People who consume higher amounts of Vitamin B3 from food and multivitamin sources seem to have a lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease than people who consume less niacin. But there is no direct evidence that taking a stand-alone niacin supplement helps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
One preliminary study suggested that niacinamide may improve arthritis symptoms, including increasing joint mobility and reducing the amount of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) needed. More research is needed.
Common side effects may include diarrhea, headache, stomach discomfort, and bloating. High doses (500 mg or more) of niacin can cause side effects.
The most common side effect is called “flush,” which is a burning, tingling sensation in the face and chest, and red or flushed skin. Taking an aspirin 30 minutes prior to the B3 may help reduce this symptom.
At very high doses, used to lower cholesterol and treat other conditions, liver damage and stomach ulcers can occur. Your doctor will regularly check your liver function through a blood test.
People with a history of liver disease, kidney disease, or stomach ulcers should not take Vitamin B3 supplements. Those with diabetes or gallbladder disease should do so only under the close supervision of their doctors.
Stop taking niacin or niacinamide at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery. People with low blood pressure should not take niacin or niacinamide because they may cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure. DO NOT take niacin if you have a history of gout.
People with coronary artery disease or unstable angina should not take niacin without their doctor’s supervision, as large doses can raise the risk of heart rhythm problems.
Taking any one of the B vitamins for a long period of time can result in an imbalance of other important B vitamins. For this reason, you may want to take a B-complex vitamin, which includes all the B vitamins.