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Vitamin B3 Fact Sheet

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Niacin: Learn All About Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3, also commonly referred to as Niacin, is one of the eight essential B group of vitamins. Vit B3 can be found naturally in many food types, is available in many multivitamin supplements and is sometimes prescribed by doctors to help control high cholesterol.

Function

Vitamin B3 plays an important role in assisting the body to metabolise carbohydrates, fats and protein into energy. It is required by the body to help stabilise cholesterol and hormone levels. This important nutrient also plays a part in supporting the skin, the nervous system and the digestive system.

Food Source

Vitamin B3 can be found naturally in meat and fish as well as legumes, grains and cereals. It can also be found in some nuts, such as peanuts.

RDI (Recommended Daily Intake)

The recommended daily intake, as with many vitamins, varies slightly for men and women. It is recommended that men consume at least 16mg daily. For women, the RDI is 15mg.

Food Portion Guide

A balanced diet including some meat, fish, legumes, grains, nuts and cereals will help you achieve your daily required dose. For example, just 150g of grilled fish can provide up to 12mg.

Possible Symptoms of Deficiency

Niacin deficiency is also known as pellagra. The main symptoms of pellagra are known as the 3 D’s: dementia, diarrhoea and dermatitis. Deficiency can also present with symmetrical lesions on the skin, oedema and pain of the tongue, increased salivation, abdominal discomfort or altered cognitive status (such as increased confusion, paranoia, disorientation).

Possible Side Effects Of Overdose

It is not possible to overdose on through eating alone, however taking too much over the counter or prescription niacin could possibly relate in an overdose. Symptoms of overdose include rapid heart rate, severe skin flushing and itchy skin, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and gout.

In summary, adequate levels of this nutrient can usually be achieved through normal diet. As niacin is heat stable, little is lost through the cooking process, allowing cooked foods and raw foods to contribute to your RDI. People who drink excessive amount of alcohol or have a medical condition affecting digestive absorption are at highest risk of developing a deficiency and may need to be prescribed vitamin B supplements by their doctor.

If you are concerned regarding your vitamin B3 levels, or you think you may have a cholesterol problem, consult your Doctor to discuss your options.

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