Other Proposed Uses
Probably Not Effective Uses
- Diabetes (Prevention in Children at High Risk)
- Passing a Urine Drug Screen (Dangerous as well as Ineffective)
Vitamin B 3 is required for the proper function of more than 50 enzymes. Without it, your body would not be able to release energy or make fats from carbohydrates. Vitamin B 3 is also used to make sex hormones and other important chemical signal molecules.
Vitamin B 3 comes in two principal forms: niacin (nicotinic acid) and niacinamide (nicotinamide). When taken in low doses for nutritional purposes, these two forms of the vitamin are essentially identical. However, each has its own particular effects when taken in high doses. Additionally, a special form of niacin called inositol hexaniacinate has shown some promise as a treatment with special properties of its own.
The official US and Canadian recommendations for daily intake of niacin are as follows:
- 0-6 months: 2 mg
- 7-12 months: 4 mg
- 1-3 years: 6 mg
- 4-8 years: 8 mg
- 9-13 years: 12 mg
- 14 years and older: 16 mg
- 14 years and older: 14 mg
- Pregnant Women : 18 mg
- Nursing Women : 17 mg
Good food sources of niacin are seeds, yeast, bran, peanuts (especially with skins), wild rice, brown rice, whole wheat, barley, almonds, and peas. Tryptophan is found in protein foods (meat, poultry, dairy products, fish). Turkey and milk are particularly excellent sources of tryptophan.
When used as therapy for a specific disease, niacin, niacinamide, and inositol hexaniacinate are taken in dosages much higher than nutritional needs, about 1 to 4 g daily. Because of the risk of liver inflammation at these doses, medical supervision is essential.
Many people experience an unpleasant flushing sensation and headache when they take niacin. These symptoms can usually be reduced by gradually increasing the dosage over several weeks or by using slow-release niacin. However, slow-release niacin appears to be more likely to cause liver inflammation than other forms. Inositol hexaniacinate may also cause less flushing than plain niacin, and if you take an aspirin along with niacin, the flushing reaction will usually decrease.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Vitamin B
Niacin is one of the best researched of all the vitamins, and the evidence for using it to treat at least one condition—high cholesterol—is strong enough that it has become an accepted mainstream treatment.
A more dangerous effect of niacin is liver inflammation. Although some reports suggest that it occurs most commonly with slow-release niacin, it can occur with any type of niacin when taken at a daily dose of more than 500 mg (usually 3 g or more). Regular blood tests to evaluate liver function are, therefore, mandatory when using high-dose niacin (or niacinamide or inositol hexaniacinate). This reaction almost always goes away when niacin is stopped. Note : Contrary to claims on some manufacturer's websites, there is no reliable evidence that inositol hexaniacinate is safer than ordinary niacin.
Nonetheless, it is not safe to try this combination except under close physician supervision. Rhabdomyolysis can be fatal.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs in the statin family, niacin might offer potential benefits; however, there are real dangers to this combination. Do not try it except under physician supervision.
- The antituberculosis drug isoniazid (INH) : You may need extra niacin.
- Anticonvulsant drugs such as carbamazepine or primidone : Do not take niacinamide except under physician supervision.
If you drink alcohol excessively:
- Do not take niacin except under physician supervision.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -