Last Updated on April 18, 2016 by Michael Brockbank
Vitamin B3, or Niacin, is of the B-complex family – most of which enhance how your body creates energy. However, it also has uses that can contribute to maintaining a healthy body. It’s used as a natural substitute for some medications to help control various aspects of health. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of research centering around some of the more practical implications of this B vitamin. On the other hand, results of current studies are promising to say the least.
How Vitamin B3 Helps the Body
Niacin is one of those components that is found in a wide range of foods. Products made from yeast, dairy, green veggies and cereal grains are among the most concentrated with vitamin B3. Because of this plentiful supply, it’s very difficult to become deficient.
Like most of the B-vitamin family, niacin’s current primary focus is the breaking down of carbohydrates and fats to develop energy. This is why most energy drinks have various vitamin B additions. In liquid form, vitamin B3 can be used to give one a quick boost.
Preventing Future Heart Attacks
Those who have suffered a heart attack in the past seem less likely to have a second one while taking niacin. However, this needs to be monitored by a physician as too much of the B-complex vitamin can be damaging.
Some experts believe that niacin plays a role in removing harmful chemicals from the liver. On the other hand, doses higher than three grams per day can cause liver problems and damage.
Some studies have shown vitamin B3 to assist in things like atherosclerosis and improving circulation of the blood. Although there needs to be further studies, many experts have experienced positive results.
Vitamin B3 has been linked to helping as a way to control cholesterol. However, it takes a great deal of niacin in order to be useful in this regard. Like anything you put into your body, high levels of the vitamin can be toxic and result in liver damage. Before using this as a method to boost HDL and lower triglycerides, you should consult your physician.
Some believe vitamin B3 can help in the treatment of migraine headaches. However, there is insufficient scientific evidence to support this claim outside of personal experience. If it helps you, then you may want to consider that you may have a niacin deficiency.
There is some evidence to support vitamin B3 as a method to fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Although it’s used in many treatments, it also doesn’t have a lot of scientific evidence to fully support the claim. The facts center around those who consume more niacin-rich foods appear to be less likely to develop the disease over those who don’t.
A Lack of Vitamin B3
Humans are incapable of storing niacin for extended periods of time. This is because vitamin B3 is a water-soluble compound. Excess amounts are excreted through urine, as are many other kinds of vitamins and minerals. As such, it’s difficult to reach toxic levels. That isn’t saying that you cannot overdose on this compound. In fact, it is possible to cause internal injuries by consuming too much of it.
Side Effects of Niacin Deficiency
Although this component is widely available, you can still suffer from niacin deficiencies by avoiding foods rich in vitamin B3. One of these conditions is Pellagra, a disease which could cause dermatitis, mental problems and diarrhea. A vitamin B3 deficiency may also contribute to vomiting, fatigue and even depression. Unfortunately, there are many other things that can contribute to these conditions. You may need to seek professional assistance if you suffer from these kinds of effects.
Although it’s added to many treatments, there is simply not enough scientific support for many of niacin’s uses. However, the personal experiences alone may be enough to convince many people that it has potential to improve various aspects of the human body. Before you try to self-medicate with supplements, consult your physician. The last thing you’d want to do is damage your liver because you’re trying to get rid of a migraine.