Niacin or B3 water soluble vitamin has a myriad of important roles in the human body. As B3 is not saved in the body, it must be ingested daily. To prevent a B3 deficiency and assure normal functioning of the body, the dietary admission of the reference is 20 milligrams for men and women. But which are the Vitamin B3 side effects?
A recent study has shown that high consumption of antioxidants and B3 (+ 6.2 mg) reduced the risk of cancer of the throat, esophagus and oral cavity by up to 40%.
Nicotinic acid is also used to lower bad cholesterol in the body, but in very high doses that can only be obtained by supplementing it. Do not start such a treatment without consulting a doctor!
Deficiency of vitamin B3
The most common disease caused by niacin deficiency is pellagra. The first cases occurred after the mass cultivation of the corn after 1700. Pellagra was associated with the poor people who had as main dietary elements the corn and sorghum. At the beginning of the 19th century, the southern part of the US was affected by the pelagra because of the aforementioned causes.
Interestingly, there was no pellagra in Mexico even if the population was poor and had the main corn a dietary food.
In fact, maize contains a large amount of vitamin B3, but it is linked to other compounds and is not bio-available.
The traditional method of making corn tortillas includes soaking the corn in an alkaline solution. Heating the corn together with the alkaline solution leads to the release of vitamin B3 and implicitly to the increase of its bio-availability.
The most common symptoms of niacin deficiency are:
- light red color
- memory loss
If not treated in time, a vitamin B3 deficiency can be fatal.
Vitamin B3 can also be synthesized from the tryptophan amino acid, but it is not known what the maximum amount can be achieved.
It was thought that 60 mg tryptophan = 1mg niacin, but recent studies have shown that the ratio is not correct and that most of the time pellagra symptoms occur even if there is enough tryptophan in the body.
The recommended daily dose was calculated based on the amount of niacin metabolites in the urine and not on the dose of niacin that prevents the symptoms of pellagra – 11 mg.
Vitamin B3 Side Effects
Vitamin B3 in food does not produce adverse effects, but supplementation can cause itching, gastrointestinal disorders, vomiting, nausea, hepatotoxicity, hepatitis (very high doses 3-9 g on long-term), skin redness, and dry skin.
Most side effects were seen with immediate-release supplements.
People who suffer from liver problems can develop these symptoms much faster than healthy people.
Skin redness is the most common sign of excess B3. This reaction may even occur at doses of 30 mg and therefore the maximum admissible limit has been set for its prevention.
This maximum limit is not valid for people using niacin supplements for curative purposes under the supervision of a physician.
Sources of niacin
This vitamin can be obtained very easily from food and the best sources are:
- fish (9-11 mg / 100 g)
- chicken (7 mg / 100 g)
- turkey meat (6 mg / 100 g)
- cereals, hazelnuts, peas, and lentils
Generally, supplementation is not necessary, but for people over 60 years of age, this is recommended. However, before you decide to supplement the amount of vitamin B3 you should consult a specialist.
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