Vitamin B3 is the name given to both niacin and niacinamide, considered as part of the B complex of vitamins. Like the others in this group, vitamin B3 is used in the body for energy production.
In addition, niacin works to eliminate harmful free radicals in the body to protect it from tissue damage.
Niacin has been used to treat high cholesterol and osteoarthritis and is part of a comprehensive treatment plan for circulation problems, dizziness, and migraine headaches. There is also evidence that niacin is helpful for those managing diabetes.
It is important to note that, while both are labelled vitamin B3, niacin and niacinamide are processed differently in the body and produce different health benefits.
Vitamin B3 Deficiency
Vitamin B3 deficiency manifests as a nasty disease called pellagra, which is characterized by dermatitis, skin lesions, digestive problems, psychiatric symptoms, and eventual death if left untreated.
Symptoms of deficiency can include depression, poor concentration, irritability, and fatigue.
Alcohol abuse and poor diet are usually to blame for most cases of vitamin B3 deficiency. Alcohol is to blame for a number of deficiency issues as it interferes with the normal metabolism of many nutrients.
Food Sources of Vitamin B3
The best food sources of vitamin B3 are animal sources: tuna, chicken, salmon, and turkey.
Good vegetable sources include tomatoes, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, and asparagus. Other vegetable sources are legumes, like peanuts and green peas, leafy greens, and root vegetables. Dates are a good fruit source.
Nuts, seeds, and grains also provide useful amounts of this necessary vitamin. A peanut butter sandwich is a great source of niacin, since the refined flour used for the bread would be fortified with niacin to add to that existing naturally in the peanut butter.
Enjoy your post-holiday turkey sandwich. It too is rich in vitamin B3.
Because vitamin B3 is a water soluble vitamin, and can’t be stored by the body, it is important to consume foods rich in niacin every day. The good news is that niacin is more easily available than some vitamins because it can be synthesized by the liver from the essential amino acid tryptophan.
Want a fast, easy serving of vitamin B3? Open a can of tuna and dig in! Tuna is an excellent source of niacin and a single serving can provide your daily recommended intake of this valuable nutrient.
Not a fan of fish? A handful of peanuts is also a good source of vitamin B3.