Essential for overall good health and, in particular, highly beneficial in keeping cholesterol levels in the right balance, Niacin or Vitamin B3 is one of the most critical nutrients your body needs. This is a water soluble B complex vitamin that is not stored in the body. This is why it is important to replenish the levels of this nutrient regularly by ensuring that you eat food stuffs that are rich in these vitamins.
Niacin is called the B3 vitamin because it was the third of this group to be discovered. In earlier years, it was also called the Vitamin PP because of its ability to prevent pellagra. To eliminate any confusion with the nicotine contained in cigarettes, the name niacin was derived from the combination of Nicotinic Acid and Vitamin.
What does Niacin or Vitamin B3 do?
Niacin is a key factor in several important bodily functions:
• Keeps your digestive system working at peak performance
• Critical for efficient nerve function
• Helps convert the food you eat into energy
• Helps control atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries)
• Reduces the risk of a second heart attack in those who have already suffered one.
• Approved treatment method for pellagra
• Curbs the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease
• Reduces risk of several age related ailments including cataract, diabetes and osteoarthritis
Mainly, niacin is believed to have key benefits to offer as a cholesterol treatment method because it boosts the levels of HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol better than many drugs do. Although, the vitamin needs to be ingested in fairly high doses, under physician recommendation, for cholesterol treatment, it is still quite commonly prescribed in combination with other medications for this purpose.
A mild deficiency of niacin results in suppressed metabolism and it curbs your resistance to minor infections like the common cold.
Good sources of Niacin
Niacin occurs in two forms- nicotinamide and nicotinic acid. Both forms naturally occur in several food stuffs such as meat, wheat, fish, milk and eggs. It is also found in cereal, legumes, peanuts, avocados, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, asparagus, dates etc.
The recommended quantity of niacin required in a day is:
• 17 mg for adult men
• 13 mg for adult women
A balanced diet should give you your required daily dose of this essential nutrient.
Excessive doses of niacin are not recommended. This may lead to problems such as skin flushes and over the long term, it could lead to liver damage, as well.
• Vitamin B3 keeps cholesterol levels balanced and keeps digestive functions efficient
• A water soluble vitamin, it needs to be replenished in the body regularly
• It occurs in two forms, both occurring naturally in foods