vitamins

Vitamin B3 or niacin: all about this vitamin

Vitamin B3, or niacin, is essential to the body. Its interventions in many metabolic reactions make it a very important vitamin. Niacin has long been shown to be effective in treating high cholesterol and fighting skin disorders. However, a deficiency such as an excess of this vitamin can have serious consequences.

Characteristics of vitamin B3:

  • Water-soluble vitamin precursor of NAD and NADP essential for energy production
  • Hypocholesterolemic and protective role against atherosclerosis
  • promotes good brain function
  • Is found in most foods, especially of animal origin
  • Vitamin B3 deficiency can be responsible for pellagra

Why eat foods rich in vitamin B3?

Vitamin B3: benefits and roles in the body

Regulates cholesterol levels

Niacin is involved in lipid metabolism. This vitamin has a cholesterol-lowering effect, so it is frequently used to lower blood lipid levels.

Prevents atherosclerosis

Vitamin B3 helps to maintain the integrity of tissues, especially those of the arteries whose elasticity they preserve. In combination with other molecules, it would have a particularly interesting action to prevent atherosclerosis.

Included in the composition of the coenzymes NAD and NADP

These two coenzymes are essential for the action of several enzymes. Among other things, they allow the production of energy in the cells and the synthesis of lipid molecules such as bile salts or steroid hormones.

Good brain function

Niacin would protect neural cells from premature aging and could, in this sense, prevent neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.).

Foods rich in vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 is found mainly in foods of animal origin and in fortified cereals.

FoodstuffsPortions of food(mg)
Chicken, white meat with or without skin, roasted100 g15-20
Poached salmon100 g17-18
Beef, lamb or veal liver, sautéed or braised100 g12-17
Canned tuna100 g12-13
Milk-Fed Veal Cutlet, sautéed100 g13
Yellowfin tuna or swordfish, baked or grilled100 g12
Baked shad100 g11
Grilled Spanish mackerel100 g11
Smoked sturgeon100 g11
Bluefin tuna, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, salmon, baked100 g9-11
Veal leg, loin or shank, sautéed or braised100 g8-11
Duck100 g10
Simmered or roasted rabbit100 g7-8
Dehydrated and salted Atlantic cod100 g8
Dry roasted peanuts or peanuts in oil60 ml (1/4 cup)6-7
Atlantic or Pacific halibut, grilled100 g7
100% bran breakfast cereals (All Bran type)30 g5
Pork, various cuts, grilled100 g5
Grilled Haddock100 g5

How to use vitamin B3 properly?

Use of niacin

Vitamin B3 requirements

The body’s needs for this vitamin change over the life cycle, so dietary intakes must be adapted to these changing needs to avoid niacin deficiency.

ANC (Recommended nutritional intake)
Babies 0-6 months2 mg*
Babies 7-12 months4 mg*
Babies 1-3 years old6 mg
Children 4-8 years old8 mg
Boys 9-13 years old12 mg
Girls 9-13 years old12 mg
Boys 14-18 years old16 mg
Girls 14-18 years old14 mg
Men 19-50 years old16 mg
Women 19-50 years old14 mg
Men 50 years and over16 mg
Women 50 years and over14 mg
Pregnant women18 mg
Nursing Women17 mg

*Adequate contributions

Vitamin B3 dietary supplements

There are many dietary supplements containing niacin. Vitamin B3 seems to be particularly effective in cleansing the skin, reducing cholesterol levels and preserving brain function. It is generally recommended not to exceed 100 mg per day and to seek medical advice systematically before taking any supplements.

Adverse effects of vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 deficiency

Except in cases of severe malnutrition or alcoholism, vitamin B3 deficiency is extremely rare. It can result in significant skin disorders such as depigmentation, itching or dandruff. In the longer term, diarrhoea, nausea and a few rare cases of dementia due to niacin deficiency are observed.

Excess vitamin B3

Above a certain dose, vitamin B3 causes vasodilation of the vessels responsible for dementgradations and hot flashes. From 700 mg per day, this vitamin can even be hepatotoxic (toxic to the liver). In the long term, excess vitamin B3 may also be responsible for hyperinsulinism, obesity and the development of type 2 diabetes.

Interactions with vitamins B1, B6 and B2

Vitamin B3 acts in synergy with vitamins B1, B6 and B2, so it is necessary to ensure a good supply of these vitamins.

Be careful, in case of treatment against hypercholesterolemia, alcoholism or liver disease, it is imperative to consult a doctor before taking a supplement containing niacin. Indeed, vitamin B3 can interact with different molecules and become dangerous. For example, alcohol increases the vasodilatory effects of this vitamin, which can cause various inconveniences.

Chemical properties

The crude formula of vitamin B3 is C6H5NO2, its molecular weight is 123.1094 g/mol. Vitamin B3, also known as PP or niacin, is water-soluble and belongs to the B group vitamins.

This vitamin is a precursor of NAD and NADP, oxidation-reduction cofactors in many metabolic pathways.

History of the event

History of the nutrient

The name vitamin PP sometimes given to niacin comes from preventive pellagra, because a deficiency can be responsible for pellagra.

It was while studying nicotine that H. Weidel discovered nicotinic acid in 1873. Later in 1937, its presence was rediscovered in the liver by C. Elvehjem. It is then called vitamin PP. The name vitamin B3 simply suggests that it is the third vitamin in the B group to have been discovered.

The word niacin is a suitcase word for nicotinic acid vitamin. It was invented to avoid suggesting the presence of vitamins in cigarettes and nicotine-containing products. It is also originally used to refer to the form of vitamin B3 contained in some food additives. Today it is used indiscriminately to designate vitamin B3.