By its chemical composition, niacin is similar to tryptophan (which can be found in eggs, meat and poultry). About half the body’s need for this vitamin can be met by conversion from tryptophan. The rest must be taken from food and a good source of niacin is a food rich in protein. Niacin can also be obtained from dietary supplements, as well as many grain products that are enriched with the this and other vitamins.
How does it work?
Niacin is needed to release energy from foods rich in carbohydrates. It is also important for controlling blood glucose levels, healthy skin, and maintaining neural and digestive system neat functions.
PREVENTION: Some reports from the 40s and 50s of the last century indicate the use of niacin in the treatment of people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. After several months, the function of the joints improved, increased the volume of movement, and the strength and stamina of the muscles. This data is confirmed by recent research. Niacin appears to have anti-inflammatory properties and can help heal damaged cartilage.
ADDITIONAL USEFUL EFFECTS: niacin has a beneficial effect on the brain and nerve cells, and it can also alleviate depression, anxiety and insomnia. If it is given early enough, it seems to be able to reverse the course of type I diabetes (mostly occurring before the age of 30). Such therapy may only be performed under medical supervision.
How much niacin is needed?
The recommended daily intake of this substance is 13 mg for women and 17 mg for men. For effective treatment of various disorders a much larger dose; niacin is then used more as a medicine, and not as a dietary supplement.
IF YOU TAKE TOO LITTLE: the consequences of slight naicin deficiency are irritation of some parts of the skin, loss of appetite, poor digestion and feeling of weakness. In industrialized countries, a severe deficiency of this vitamin occurs almost never. Symptoms of severe deficiency (pellagra) are: rash on parts of the skin exposed to sun, vomiting, red tongue, fatigue and memory loss.
IF YOU TAKE TOO MUCH: when niacin is taken (in the form of nicotinamide) at recommended doses, there is no danger. The maximum safe dose is 500 mg per day. When your doctor recommends an increased intake of this vitamin, liver function should be controlled from time to time because large doses of niacin can damage it.
How to take it?
For treating anxiety and depression: take 50 mg of niacin per day; this amount can be found in the usual preparations of vitamin B complexes.
Against insomnia: take 500 mg of nicotinamide before sleep.
In treating arthritis: take 500 mg of nicotinamide, three times a day, but only under medical supervision.
USE GUIDELINES: to reduce the risk of stomach irritation, it is recommended to take niacin (especially high doses) together with food. If you are taking medicines to lower blood cholesterol levels, do not take any niacin preparations.
Niacin can be found in food rich in protein, such as chicken, beef, fish and nuts. Bread, cereals and some pasta are sometimes enriched with this vitamin. Eggs, milk and dairy products do not contain large amounts of niacin, but contain many tryptophan, an alternative source of vitamin B3.
IMPORTANT: before taking any form of niacin, consult your doctor if you have any of the following conditions: diabetes mellitus, low blood pressure, bleeding problems, glaucoma, gout, liver disease or ulceration. All of these conditions can get worse if you take niacin. If you are taking daily therapeutic dose of niacin (1000 mg), you should go to a doctor every three months to check the level of liver enzymes in the blood.