Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Role in the Body & Benefits

Role in the Body
Niacin is involved in fat metabolism and energy production, and maintaining blood glucose levels. It is important for proper blood circulation and the synthesis of sex hormones. The body can make some of the niacin we need from tryptophan, an amino acid obtained from protein.

Dietary Sources
Niacin is found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs and many whole grains and cereals have niacin added. Tryptophan is abundant in protein foods such as milk and dairy products, eggs, meats, poultry, and fish.

Who Is at Risk for Deficiency?
You may be at risk if you are an alcoholic or a strict vegetarian or vegan.

Niacin has been found to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood at high doses. Note that high doses should be taken only under a doctor's supervision.

Niacin supplements should not be taken if you are pregnant, diabetic, or suffer from gout, liver disease, or peptic ulcers or are on high blood pressure medicine. Excessive amounts of niacin taken over time can lead to liver damage. A reddening of the face and neck (flush) is common at some doses of niacin.

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