Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Latest Research Included

Full Disclosure

Vitamin B3 is one of the eight B vitamins. It is also called Niacin (nicotinic acid) and also has two additional forms: Niacinamide (nicotinamide) and inositol-hexanicotinate that have different effects than niacin.

All B vitamins help convert nutrients (carbohydrates) into energy (glucose), which your body uses to create energy. The B vitamins, commonly called B-complex vitamins, also help the body use protein and fats. B-complex vitamins are required to maintain a healthy liver, hair, skin, and eyes, as well as to assist in the correct function of the nervous system.

Niacin aids the body in producing various stress and sex-related hormones in the adrenal glands and other body parts. It also improves circulation and has been proven to decrease inflammation.

All B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning the body doesn't store them.

It is possible to meet your body's requirements for B3 by eating a balanced diet. It is not expected to find anyone in the industrialized world with B3 deficiencies. Within the U.S., alcoholism is the most common cause of vitamin B3 deficiencies.

The symptoms of a mild B3 deficiency are:

  • Indigestion
  • Fatigue
  • Canker sores
  • Vomiting
  • Poor circulation
  • Depression

A severe deficiency may cause the condition called”pellagra. Pellagra is defined by cracked skin, scaly, as well as dementia and diarrhea. The treatment is generally a nutrient-balanced diet and Niacin supplements. Niacin deficiency can irritate the mouth and an enlarged bright red tongue.

High doses of B3 available on prescription have been researched to treat or prevent symptoms of these conditions. However, in high doses, niacin may be harmful. Do not consume doses more significant than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) with your medical supervision. Researchers are trying to determine whether inositol hexanicotinate offers similar advantages without severe consequences. However, the results aren't conclusive.

High cholesterol

Niacin, though not niacinamide, has been utilized since the 1950s to reduce the elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and the triglyceride (fat) concentrations in blood. But, the adverse reactions can be unpleasant and sometimes even deadly. The high doses of Niacin can trigger:

  • The skin is prone to flushing
  • Stomach upset (which generally subsides in several weeks)
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Vision blurred
  • A higher risk of damage to the liver

Niacin that is released in time helps reduce flushing. However, long-term use can be connected with liver damage. Furthermore, niacin could interfere with other medications that lower cholesterol. Taking niacin in high doses is not recommended without your doctor's guidance.

Heart disease and atherosclerosis

A study found that people with heart diseases could slow the progression of atherosclerosis by taking niacin with colestipol. They had fewer deaths and heart attacks.

In a different study, those suffering from the condition of heart attack and high cholesterol who used Niacin in combination with simvastatin (Zocor) had a lower chance of suffering the first coronary artery attack, stroke, or. The risk of dying decreased as well. In a different study, males who were taking niacin on their own seemed to decrease the likelihood of suffering from a second heart attack, but it didn't reduce the risk of dying.


In the case of type 1 diabetes, our immune system accidentally attacks the cells of the pancreas, which produce insulin, eventually killing the pancreas cells. Niacinamide could help protect those cells for some time. It is necessary to conduct more research.

Researchers have also studied the possibility that high-dose niacinamide could reduce the risk of having type 1 diabetes for children who are at high risk of developing the condition. One study concluded the contrary. However, a different study concluded that it didn't provide protection against the development of type 1 diabetes. Further research is required.

The effects of niacin in Type 2 Diabetes is more complex. Patients with type 2 diabetes generally have higher levels of cholesterol and fats in their blood. In many cases, Niacin and other medicines may reduce those levels. However, niacin can raise blood sugar levels, which can be particularly harmful for those suffering from diabetes. This is why If you are suffering from diabetes, then you should be taking Niacin only with the guidance of your doctor. Additionally, you should be closely watched for signs of high blood sugar.


One study has suggested that niacinamide might help relieve arthritis symptoms, including enhancing joint mobility and decreasing the amount of non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) required. More research is imperative.


Alzheimer's disease: Studies on the population reveal that those who consume greater amounts of niacin in their diets are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. However, the study has not evaluated the effects of niacin supplements.

Cataracts: One massive study on the population showed that people who consumed lots of niacin from their diets had a lower chance of developing cataracts.

Skin diseases Researchers are studying different forms of niacin that can be used to treat rosacea ageing and prevent skin cancer. However, it is still too early to determine whether this is effective.

Although there isn't evidence to support its use in treating any of these ailments however, researchers are studying the role of vitamin B3 in treating:

  • ADHD
  • Migraines
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Motion sickness
  • Alcohol dependence

Dietary Sources

The most nutritious sources of vitamin B3 from food are:

  • Beets
  • Brewer's yeast
  • Beef liver
  • Beef kidney
  • Fish
  • Salmon
  • Swordfish
  • Tuna
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Peanuts

Foods like cereals and breads are often supplemented with Niacin. Additionally, poultry, red meat, eggs, and dairy products contain tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts into niacin.

Available Forms

Vitamin B3 can be found in a variety of supplement formats:

  • Niacinamide
  • Niacin
  • Inositol hexaniacinate.

Niacin can be purchased as tablets and capsules in timed-release and regular forms. The capsules and tablets released at a particular time might have fewer side effects than regular Niacin tablets and capsules. However, timed-release formulations tend to trigger damage to the liver. No matter which type of niacin you are taking, doctors recommend regular liver function tests when taking large doses (above 100 mg daily) of Niacin.

How to Take It

Typically, high doses of Niacin are employed to treat certain diseases. These high doses should be prescribed by a physician, and the dose of niacin should be gradually increased over a period of 4 to 6 weeks. Consume niacin at mealtimes to prevent stomach discomfort.

Daily guidelines for niacin intake in the diets of healthy people are:


  • Infants, from birth to 6 months 2.25 mg (adequate intake)
  • Infants between 7 and 1 year old old: 4 mg (adequate intake)
  • Children aged 1 to 3 years 6.25 mg (RDA)
  • Children aged 4-8 years 8.3 mg (RDA)
  • Children aged 9-13 years 12-milligrams (RDA)
  • Boys aged 14-18 years Ages 14-18: 16.3 mg (RDA)
  • Girls aged 14 to 18 years 14 to 18 years old: 14,0 mg (RDA)


  • Men aged 19 or older Age: 19 and over. (RDA)
  • Women aged 19 or older Aged 19 and over: 14.3 mg (RDA)
  • Women who are pregnant: 18 mg (RDA)
  • Women who breastfeed 17,5 mg (RDA)


Because of the risk of adverse side effects and interactions with medications, it is advised that dietary supplements be taken with the guidance of a qualified medical professional. Some of the side effects include headache, diarrhea, stomach pain, stomach aches, and the sensation of bloating.

High dosages (50 mg or greater) of niacin may result in side effects. The most frequent side effect is known as “niacin flush,” which is described as a burning and tingling sensation on the chest and face, as well as red or flushed skin. Aspirin is taken 30 minutes before the niacin could help reduce the symptoms.

In very high doses employed to reduce cholesterol and treat other ailments, the liver can be damaged, and stomach ulcers may develop. Your physician will periodically use a blood test to check your liver's function.

Anyone who has a history of liver disease, kidney disease, liver disease, or stomach ulcers should not be taking Niacin supplements. People suffering from gallbladder diseases or diabetes should take these supplements only under the supervision of their physicians.

Stop taking niacinamide or niacin at least 2 weeks before the scheduled surgery.

Niacin and niacinamide can cause allergic reactions to worsen by increasing histamine.

Patients with lower blood pressure should not use niacinamide or niacin because they can cause a risky decrease in blood pressure. Don't use niacin if you have a history of gout.

Patients suffering from coronary artery disease or unstable angina must not take niacin unless under their medical supervision, as high doses may increase the risk of developing heart rhythm issues.

Taking any of the B vitamins over a prolonged period may cause imbalances of other vital B vitamins. To avoid this, you might consider taking B-complex vitamins containing all B vitamins.

Possible Interactions

Because of its effect on the liver, B3 may interact with other drugs. If you're taking medication or consuming alcohol, it is best not to take niacin without speaking with your doctor first. Here is a brief list of drugs that could affect vitamin B3.

Niacin, antibiotics, and tetracycline are not recommended to be taken in conjunction with the antibiotic tetracycline as it hinders the absorption and effectiveness of the medication. Vitamin B complex vitamins act this way and are best taken at different time intervals from tetracycline.

Aspirin: Taking aspirin before taking niacin could help reduce the flushing of Niacin. However, it should only be taken under the supervision of your doctor.

Anti-seizure medication: Phenytoin (Dilantin) and valproic acids (Depakote) can cause niacin deficiency among some individuals. Combining niacin with carbamazepine (Tegretol) or mysoline (Primidone) can increase the levels of these drugs within the body.

Anticoagulants (blood thinners) Niacin could cause those effects drugs to be more powerful and increase the chance of bleeding.

Alpha-blockers and blood pressure medications, including Niacin, can increase the effect of medications used for lowering blood pressure, which can increase the possibility of having low blood pressure.

Cholesterol-lowering medication: Niacin binds to cholesterol-lowering drugs called bile-acid sequestrants, which can make them less effective. Because of this, Niacin and the medications mentioned above should be taken at different times during the day. Bile-acid sequestrants comprise colestipol (Colestid), colesevelam (Welchol), and Cholestyramine (Questran).

Statins: Some evidence suggests that combining niacin with simvastatin (Zocor) is believed to slow the progress of heart diseases. But, this combination could also increase the risk of severe side effects like liver damage or inflammation of the muscles.

Niacin is a diabetes medication that can raise blood sugar levels. People who are taking insulin, metformin (Glucophage), Glyburide, metformin (Dibeta, Micronase), Glipizide (Glucotrol), or other medications to treat blood glucose issues must be aware of their blood glucose levels carefully while taking supplements with niacin.

Isoniazid (INH) is an anti-tuberculosis medication. It is used to treat tuberculosis, and it could cause a deficiency in niacin.

Nicotine patches: The use and application of nicotine patches containing niacin could make it more difficult or worsen the chance of flushing that is associated with niacin.

These medicines may reduce levels of niacin found in the body.

  • Azathioprine (Imuran)
  • Chloramphenicol (Chloromycetin)
  • Cycloserine (Seromycin)
  • Fluorouracil
  • Levodopa and carbidopa
  • Mercaptopurine (Purinethol)

Supporting Research

AIM-HIGH Investigators. The role played by niacin in raising the level of high-density cholesterol to decrease heart attacks in patients suffering from atherosclerotic heart disease and properly treating cholesterol levels of low density, as well as the study plan. The Atherothrombosis treatment for Metabolic Syndrome with high triglycerides and low HDL Effects on Global Health Outcome (AIM-HIGH). Am Heart J. 2011 Mar;161(3):471-477.e2.

Bissett DL, Oblong JE, Berge CA, et al. Niacinamide is a B vitamin that can improve the appearance of facial wrinkles. Dermatol Surg. 2005; 31:860-865; discussion 865.

Boden WE, Sidhu MS. Toth PP. The therapeutic value of niacin for the treatment of dyslipidemia. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2014;19(2):141-58.

Brown BG, Zhao XQ, Chalt A, et al. Simvastatin and Niacin are antioxidant vitamins or the combination used for preventive measures against coronary diseases. N Engl J Med. 2001;345(22):1583-1592.

Cumming the RG Mitchell P, Smith W. Diet and cataract The Blue Mountains Eye Study. Ophthalmology. 2000;107(3):450-456.

Draelos ZD, Ertel K, Berge C, et al. Niacinamide-containing facial moisturizer improves skin barrier and benefits subjects with rosacea. Cutis. 2005;76:135-141.

Elam M, Hunninghake DB, Davis KB, et al. The effects of niacin on lipoprotein and lipid levels and glycemic control among people with peripheral arterial diseases and diabetes The ADMIT Study: a randomized trial. Arterial Disease Multiple Intervention Trial. JAMA. 2000;284:1263-1270.

Garcia-Closas R. et al. Food, nutrient, and heterocyclic amine intake and the possibility of bladder cancer. Eur J Cancer. 2007;43(11):1731-1740.

Ginsberg HN, Reyes-Soffer G. Niacin: a long history, but a questionable future. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2013;24(6):475-9.

Goldberg A, Alagona P, Capuzzi DM, et al. Safety and efficacy of multiple doses of extended-release Niacin in managing hyperlipidemia. Am J Cardiol. 2000;85:1100-1105.

Guyton JR. Niacin prevents cardiovascular disease Mechanisms, efficacy, and safety. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2007 Aug;18(4):415-420.

Jacques PF, Chylack LT Jr, Hankinson SE, et al. Long-term nutrient intake as well as early age-related opacities of the nuclear lens. Arch Ophthalmol. 2001;119(7):1009-1019.

Jones KW. Do statin patients also require Niacin? JAAPA. 2013;26(7):9-10.

Kuzniarz M, Mitchell P, Cumming RG, Flood VM. Supplements to vitamin A and cataracts in the Blue Mountains Eye Study. Am J Ophthalmol. 2001;132(1):19-26.

Mittal MK, Florin T, Perrone J, Delgado JH, Osterhoudt KC. Toxicity due to the use of niacin to defeat urine drug testing. Ann Emerg Med. 2007;50(5):587-590.

Nutrients and Nutritional Agents. In: Kastrup EK, Hines Burnham T, Short RM, et al, eds. Drug Facts and Comparisons. St. Louis, MO: 2000;4-5.

Raja R, Thomas JM, Greenhill-Hopper M, Ley SV, Almeida Paz FA. One-step manufacturing of Niacin (vitamin B3) and other nitrogen-containing pharmaceutical chemicals using a heterogeneous catalyst with a single site. Chemistry. 2008;14(8):2340-2348.

Sahebkar A. Effects of niacin on endothelial function: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. Vasc Med. 2014;19(1):54-66.

Sanyal S, Karas RH, Kuvin JT. Current uses of Niacin about lipid and other non-lipid parameters. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2007 Aug;8(11):1711-17.

Song WL, FitzGerald GA. Niacin is an old drug that has a new flavor. J Lipid Res. 2013;54(10):2486-94.

Surjana D. Damian DL. Nicotinamide in photoprotection and dermatology. Skinmed. 2011;9(6):360-365.

Torkos S. Drug-nutrient interactions with a particular special focus on cholesterol-lowering drugs. Int J Integrative Med. 2000;2(3):9-13.

Villines TC, Kim AS, Gore RS, Taylor AJ. Niacin: evidence-based of its clinical efficacy, as well as future direction. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2012;14(1):49-59.

Wolverton: Comprehensive Dermatologic Drug Therapy. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2007.

Zhang XM Jing Yang YP Jia MY Zhang L. Negative transcriptional regulation of genes involved in inflammation by the vitamin B3 group Nicotinamide. Mol Biol Rep. 2012;39(12):1036-1071.

Zhao H, Yang X, Zhou R, Yang Y. Study of vitamin B1 and retention of vitamin B2 in vegetables. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2008;37(1):92-96.

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