Niacin, a form of vitamin B is also callednicotinic acidor B3, is necessary for the proper functioning of cells.It's niacinsoluble in water, which means that it is quickly absorbed by water and is available to the body for immediate use. However, your body does not store niacin, so you must consume it regularly.
Niacin deficiency is rare in the US because it is readily available in many foods, including meat, legumes, and grains. However, some people may have difficulty getting enough niacin, especially those who are malnourished due to health problems. In these cases, niacin supplements may be helpful.
This article reviews the uses of niacin and its various forms. It also talks about side effects and dosage.
Dietary supplements are not regulated in the United States, which means that the Food and Drug Administration does not approve their safety and effectiveness before the products are placed on the market. When possible, choose a supplement that has been tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLabs, or NSF.
However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn't mean they're necessarily safe for all people or generally effective. Therefore, it is important to discuss any supplements you plan to take with your doctor and check for possible interactions with other supplements or medications.
- Active ingredients):nicotinic acid
- Alternative name(s):B3, nicotinska kiselina, nicotinamid, nicotinamid ribozide
- Legal status:Available over the counter (OTC)
- Recommended dose:14-16 milligrams (mg)/and
- Security considerations:Niacin can interfere with some medications, and high doses can cause complications.
of niacin use
The use of supplements should be individualized and evaluated by a health care professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or physician. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.
In the body, niacin is converted into a coenzyme (substance that activates the enzyme), the so-calledNicotinamide adenine dinucleotide(OVER). There are more than 400 enzymes in the body that require NAD to perform functions such as:
- energy generation
- Stay healthygenes
- mobile communication
- Antioxidant function (protects cells from free radicals)
In addition, some people take niacin for benefits associated with certain health conditions, includingheart disease,Alzheimer's disease, hypertension and diabetes. There is limited evidence to support niacin for these uses.
Niacin is known to reducelow density lipoprotein(LDL, also known as "bad cholesterol"),triglycerides(fat found in blood) ilipoprotein(particles that carry cholesterol in the blood).Therefore, some studies have evaluated its use in the treatment and prevention of heart disease.
A 2017 review of randomized controlled trials published inCochraneevaluated niacin for the prevention of cardiovascular events.The review included 23 trials with 39,195 participants with a mean treatment duration of 11.5 months and a mean dose of 2 grams (g) per day.
In this review, researchers found that niacin did not reduce total mortality, heart-related mortality, or non-cardiovascular mortality. Additionally, it did not reduce fatalities or non-fatalsmyocardial infarction(heart attacks) or dashes.
Similarly, a 2018 meta-analysis of 29,195 participants looked at the effect of a dietary supplement on cardiovascular disease prevention.Compared to control groups that received onlystatins(prescription drugs that improve cholesterol), groups receiving 1-3 g of niacin along with a statin had a 10% higher all-cause mortality.
The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) do not recommend niacin for the prevention or treatment of heart disease, especially for those taking statins.However, healthcare professionals sometimes prescribe niacin to those who cannot tolerate statins.
Niacin is associated with improved cognitive ability and reduced cognitive decline.So some studies have looked at whether niacin can workprevent Alzheimer's disease(memory loss disease).
In a study published in 2020Alzheimer's disease and dementia, researchers investigated whether niacin has therapeutic potential in Alzheimer's disease.In the study, rats were given 100 mg of niacin per kilogram of body weight for 30 days. After the therapy, scientists analyzed the rats' brains and found that niacin had protective effects on brain cells.
Since the researchers conducted this study on animals, it is not known whether these results can be replicated in humans. Therefore, these results require further research.
A 2022 study published inScientific translational medicineevaluated whether niacin can affect the progression of Alzheimer's disease.In the study, researchers looked at how niacin affects the brains of sick mice. Compared to the control group, mice given niacin had fewer plaques and improved cognition after therapy.
Again, the scientists conducted this research on animals, so it is not certain whether these results apply to humans.
Niacin's role in energy production and antioxidant/anti-inflammatory properties have led some researchers to consider whether it may help preventhypertension(high pressure).
A 2021 study published inJAMAanalyzed dietary niacin and new-onset hypertension in Chinese adults.The national cohort study included data from 12,243 Chinese adults. Researchers measured participants' dietary niacin intake over three consecutive 24-hour periods.
The average intake level of the participants was 14.8 mg per day (mg/d). After an average follow-up of six years, 4,306 participants developed hypertension. The researchers found that in those consuming less than 15.6 mg/day, for every 1 mg/day increase in dietary niacin, there was a 2% reduction in the occurrence of hypertension. However, in those with intakes greater than 15.6 mg/day, there was a 3% increase in the occurrence of recent hypertension.
These results produced a J-shaped (declining, then steeply increasing) association. The endpoint was 15.6 mg/day, with the lowest risk between 14.3 and 16.7 mg/day.
Niacin is known to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Because people with diabetes tend to have high levels of fat in their blood, researchers investigated whether niacin could affect type 2 diabetes.
A study from 2014Clinical nutritionevaluated the effect of niacin onlipidseglucose(blood sugar) in persons withType 2 diabetes.A meta-analysis found that niacin significantly improved lipid abnormalities. However, it also significantly increased glucose levels.
A 2020 study published indruganalyzed the effectiveness of niacin supplementation in people with type 2 diabetes.A meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials with 2110 participants found a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels. However, no significant effects on plasma glucose levels were found.
Currently, there is insufficient evidence to support niacin in the treatment of diabetes. In fact, it may increase the risk of developing diabetes due to its potential to increase glucose levels.
In addition to the potential health benefits listed above, some people use niacin to manage migraines, skin health, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Some people may develop niacin deficiency when their intake falls below recommended levels over time, they have certain risk factors for lower than normal levels, or there is a certain reason they cannot digest or absorb niacin.
What causes niacin deficiency?
Niacin deficiency occurs when you do not get adequate amounts from dietary sources. It can also happen when niacin fails to convert optimally in the body, usually when you're getting inadequate nutrients in general.
The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends:
- 4 mg per day for babies up to 11 months
- 6 mg per day for children up to 3 years old
- 8 mg per day for children aged 4 to 8 years
- 12 mg per day for children aged 9 to 13 years
- 14 mg per day for women aged 14 to adult
- 16 mg per day for males aged 14 to adult
Risk factors for niacin deficiency include:
- iron deficiency
- Another vitamin B deficiency
- Hartnup's disease, which inhibits the absorption of amino acidstryptophan
- carcinoid syndrome(caused by tumors outside the digestive tract)
How do I know if I have a niacin deficiency?
You may not know if you are deficient in niacin unless your deficiency is severe. Severe niacin deficiency can lead topellagra, a medical condition that results in gastrointestinal, skin, and memory symptoms. Pellagra is uncommon in industrialized countries.
Symptoms of pellagra include:
- Rash on exposure to sunlight
- skin redness
- bright red tongue
- Memory loss
Symptoms related to memory can be severe and lead to aggression, paranoia, hallucinations and even suicide. Pellagra can be fatal if left untreated.
What are the side effects of niacin?
Your doctor may recommend taking niacin for a medical condition or deficiency. However, consuming a supplement like niacin can have potential side effects. These side effects can be common or serious.
common side effects
The most common side effect of niacin supplements iswashing the skin.Extended-release formulas can help with this symptom. Redness of the skin looks like redness on the face, arms and chest. Along with this symptom, you may also notice warmth, tingling or itching.
In addition to redness, other symptoms may include:
- skin irritation
- Reduced blood pressure
The side effects of nicotinic acid can be unpleasant. However, they usually go away after a few weeks. In the meantime, there are ways to reduce them, including:
- take with food
- avoiding alcohol
- Splitting the dose between several meals
- For those on aspirin therapy, take a dose of aspirin half an hour before the niacin
serious side effects
Serious side effects are most often associated with high doses of niacin (more than 1 gram per day). These side effects include:
- Hypotension(low blood pressure)
- high blood sugar
- Dor abdominalni
- vision changes
- Liver injury
If you experience any of these side effects, seek medical attention immediately.
Niacin can interact with certain medications, including those that have been usedtreat tuberculosisediabetes.In addition, research shows that taking statins can be risky. Therefore, if you are taking medication, first talk to your doctor about niacin supplementation.
It is essential to read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel carefully to know what ingredients are included and how much of each ingredient is included. Also, review the label with your doctor to discuss possible interactions with food, other supplements, and medications.
Dosage: How Much Niacin Should I Take?
Always talk to your doctor before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are right for your individual needs.
Most healthy individuals get enough niacin through their diet, so supplements are usually not necessary. Most research is based on disability.
Some supplements contain up to 500 mg per serving, which is more than the recommended daily allowance of niacin.Therefore, it is crucial to discuss supplementation with a healthcare professional. They can help you determine if niacin supplements make sense for your situation and can help you find the right formula and dosage.
What happens if I take too much niacin?
To avoid toxicity, take care of the correct dose and keep in mind the upper tolerable limit. The upper limit is the highest daily amount that is considered safe and is unlikely to cause adverse effects. If you consume more than this amount or more than recommended by your doctor, you may experience the serious side effects listed above.
For niacin, toxicity has been observed at doses greater than 1 gram. If you exceed these levels, seek medical advice or go to the emergency room.
Higher intake levels
The upper intake levels for niacin are as follows:
- 10 mg for children from 1 to 3 years
- 15 mg for children aged 4 to 8 years
- 20 mg for children aged 9 to 13 years
- 30 mg for children aged 14 to 18 years
- 35 mg for adults
What is vitamin toxicity?
how to store niacin
Store niacin in a cool, dry place. Keep niacin out of direct sunlight. Throw away after one year or according to the instructions on the package.
Can Niacin Lower Cholesterol?
In higher prescription doses, niacin can lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglycerides. It also helps increase HDL ("good") cholesterol.
To learn more:Cholesterol and triglycerides
Is niacin an alternative to statins?
Niacin is not a substitute for standard medical care. The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) do not recommend niacin for the prevention or treatment of heart disease. If you are taking statins, it is especially important not to take niacin because some studies have shown that it increases the risk of death.However, if you cannot take statins, your doctor may prescribe niacin as an alternative.
To learn more:side effects of statins
Sources of niacin and what to look for
Niacin is widely available in food. Most people get enough niacin from food. However, it is also available as a plugin.
Food sources of niacin
Niacin is available in animal foods, vegetables and grains. Good dietary sources of niacin include:
- Meat, such as beef, chicken and turkey
- Fish, such as salmon and tuna
- milk and yogurt
- Vegetables, such as potatoes, squash, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach and onions
- Fruits, such as bananas, raisins and apples
- Legumes, such as edamame, tofu and lentils
- fortified cereals
- Cereals, such as rice, wholemeal flour and Bulgarian bread
If your doctor says you need more vitamin B3, you may need to take a supplement. Niacin supplements are available in several different forms. Each shape can affect your body differently.
Immediate release nicotinic acid supplements
Immediate release (IR) nicotinic acid is also known as "quick release". When you take this type, the entire dose enters your bloodstream as soon as you take it.
For this reason, IR nicotinic acid is more likely to cause side effects than other forms.
Some bottles may not indicate whether they contain an "immediate" or "sustained release" product. If the label doesn't say so, it's usually an IR product.
Sustained release nicotinic acid supplements
Extended-release (ER) nicotinic acid is available by prescription.
ER nicotinic acid is released into the body more slowly than IR type. The ER form can cause side effects, and if they do occur, they are likely to be less severe than those associated with the IR form.
There is also a generic version. A controlled-release version called Slo-Niacin is sold over the counter. This brand could be cheaper.
Sustained release nicotinic acid supplements
Sustained release (SR) nicotinic acid is also known as "timed release". This form releases nicotinic acid over a period of time rather than all at once.
The SR form can cause side effects, and if they do occur, they are likely to be milder than those caused by the IR form.
The SR pattern will take longer to clear the body than the IR or ER pattern. For this reason, SR nicotinic acid carries the risk of vitamin toxicity, which can lead to liver damage.
Do not take niacin SR if you have liver disease such ascirrhosisor chronichepatitis B or C infection. Choose the IR or ER version instead.
6 Best B-Complex Supplements in 2023
Niacin is an essential form of B vitamin that your body needs for proper cell function. Some people take niacin for health reasons, including heart disease and Alzheimer's disease. However, research is limited and there is insufficient evidence to support it for these uses.
Most people get enough niacin from the foods they eat. However, in some cases, healthcare professionals may prescribe niacin supplements to treat niacin deficiency.
Side effects of niacin supplementation include flushing, headache, dizziness, and low blood pressure. If you experience side effects, you can try a different formula or start with a lower dose.
Do not take high doses of niacin. High doses can cause serious side effects. Ask your doctor before taking niacin or any other dietary supplement.
The supplement has been linked with liver damage, can cause hypotension and might activate a peptic ulcer. Taking niacin also might worsen allergies, gallbladder disease and symptoms of certain thyroid disorders. If you have diabetes, niacin can interfere with blood glucose control.What does taking niacin do for your body? ›
Niacin helps improve circulation, and it has been shown to suppress inflammation. All the B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning that the body does not store them. You can meet all of your body's needs for B3 through diet. It is rare for anyone in the developed world to have a B3 deficiency.What not to do when taking niacin? ›
Avoid drinking alcohol or hot drinks or eating spicy foods around the time you take Niaspan®. This helps decrease flushing of your face. If you stop taking this medicine for any period of time, contact your doctor prior to restarting taking niacin.Who should not be taking niacin supplements? ›
At the low DRI doses, niacin is safe for everyone. However, at the higher amounts used to treat medical conditions, it can have risks. For that reason, children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take niacin supplements in excess of the DRI unless it's recommended by a doctor.Are niacin supplements good for you? ›
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is an important nutrient. In fact, every part of your body needs it to function properly. As a supplement, niacin may help lower cholesterol, ease arthritis, and boost brain function, among other benefits. However, it can also cause serious side effects if you take large doses.Is it okay to take niacin everyday? ›
Many foods are natural sources of niacin, and most people can get enough niacin from a healthy, balanced diet. Taking niacin supplements may be helpful in some cases. However, long-term high doses of niacin can increase your risk of adverse effects.Does niacin burn belly fat? ›
Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, may help you lose the most dangerous type of belly fat: fat inside your organs, namely the liver. People with the highest intake of niacin experience more significant reductions in liver fat during weight loss.Should you take niacin in the morning or at night? ›
If you're taking immediate-release form of niacin, take the medication after your evening meal. If you're taking the extended-release form of niacin, take the medication at bedtime after you eat a low-fat snack such as fruit, pretzels, or carrots. This lowers your risk of side effects like flushing and stomach upset.Can taking niacin be harmful? ›
Niacin in the form of nicotinamide has fewer side effects than nicotinic acid. However, at high doses of 500 mg/day or more, nicotinamide can cause diarrhea, easy bruising, and can increase bleeding from wounds. Even higher doses of 3,000 mg/day or more can cause nausea, vomiting, and liver damage.Why take niacin at bedtime? ›
Taking niacin with food may also increase niacin's bioavailability,124 whereas taking it at bedtime allows many patients to sleep through any flushing and may blunt nocturnal release of free fatty acids.
The well-known side effect related to niacin is flushing, most commonly in the face, arms, and chest, which typically occurs within 30 minutes of ingestion and abates after 60 minutes.What is the safest form of niacin? ›
A few formulas contain the co-enzyme form of niacin, called NAD, in small amounts, and this form is also considered to be safe and flush-free.Can you take vitamin D and niacin together? ›
No interactions were found between niacin and Vitamin D3. However, this does not necessarily mean no interactions exist. Always consult your healthcare provider.How long does it take for niacin to take effect? ›
What's more, niacin absorbability depends on the niacin supplement that you take. For example, the body absorbs nearly 100% of nicotinic acid, which raises niacin blood levels to an optimal range in about 30 minutes.What is the best form of niacin supplement? ›
Nicotinamide, also known as niacinamide and NAM, is the amide form of niacin. It is readily bioavailable and well tolerated. NAM can be converted to NAD through a two-step salvage pathway to be used as a cellular coenzyme.  It can also prevent niacin deficiency, or pellagra.
Niacin deficiency is more likely to be caused by problems that affect the absorption of niacin or tryptophan. The most common cause is alcoholism. Other possible causes include disorders of the digestive system and prolonged treatment with the tuberculosis drug isoniazid (Laniazid, Nydrazid).Is it safe to take 500mg of niacin a day? ›
Niacin in the form of nicotinamide has fewer side effects than nicotinic acid. However, at high doses of 500 mg/day or more, nicotinamide can cause diarrhea, easy bruising, and can increase bleeding from wounds. Even higher doses of 3,000 mg/day or more can cause nausea, vomiting, and liver damage.How do you feel after taking niacin? ›
These higher doses of niacin cause an intense flushing or "prickly heat" sensation to the face and upper body, usually 15-30 minutes after taking a relatively large dose (e.g. 500 mg). This flushing is experienced by almost everyone and, while it might feel like an allergy, it is not a true allergic reaction.Why is it better to take niacin at night? ›
Approximately 5% to 20% of patients discontinued treatment because of flushing. Flushing may be minimized by taking niacin with meals (or at bedtime with a low-fat snack), avoiding exacerbating factors (alcohol or hot beverages), and taking 325 mg of aspirin 30 minutes before niacin dosing.Is niacin good or bad for your heart? ›
What impact does niacin have on cholesterol? Niacin can lower triglycerides by 25% and raise HDL cholesterol by more than 30%. Triglyceride levels over 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) have been associated with a higher risk of heart disease.