Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Function And Benefits

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Function And Benefits

What Is Vitamin B3 (Niacin)?

Vitamin B3, known as Niacin, is one of the eight essential B vitamins (B vitamins complex). It is a water-soluble vitamin that is absorbed primarily in the small intestine, and some in the stomach.

Studies have shown that your body can produce Vitamin B3 from an amino acid "tryptophan" which is found in a wide variety of foods such as dairy, chicken, turkey, eggs, soy, and fish.

Niacin has two forms:
  • Nicotinic acid:
    This form of Niacin can cause a flushing effect when consumed and lower cholesterol.

  • Niacinamide or nicotinamide:
    Your body can also produce this form from Nicotinic acid. This form of Niacin does not cause a flushing effect when consumed and does not lower cholesterol.

Vitamin B3, similar to all the other B Vitamins, is mainly involved in the conversion of food (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) into energy.

Niacin also has many other health benefits that we will discuss below.

Please Note

Supplemental forms of Vitamin B3 can be purchased online and do not require any prescription. However, we highly recommend that you seek advice from your doctor before buying any supplements.

Always seek advice from a qualified health professional if you are in doubt.

This article has been written for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a replacement for professional advice.

Quick facts about Vitamin B3:
  • Recommended Daily Intake:
    • 16 mg | For adults and children over 4 years old.
    • 6 mg | For children between 1 and 3 years old.
    • 4 mg | For infants up to 12 months old.
    • 18 mg | For pregnant women and lactating women.
  • Is 1 of the 8 essential B Vitamins:
    Studies suggest that your body can produce niacin from an amino acid "tryptophan."

  • Food sources:
    Vitamin B3 (Niacin) occurs naturally in foods such as meat, poultry, fish, grains, nuts, and legumes.

1. Supports Maintaining Good Cholesterol Levels

Vitamin B3 (Nicotinic acid) has been proven to treat high cholesterol levels and reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol levels.

In addition to lowering "bad" cholesterol levels, it can also raise "good" HDL cholesterol levels. This is especially true if consumed in high doses.

However, low doses of niacin may not be effective in treating high cholesterol levels.


Vitamin B3 (Nicotinic acid) can lower "bad" LDL cholesterol levels while increasing "good" HDL cholesterol levels when consumed in high doses.

2. Supports Healthy Skin, Hair And Can Prevent Male Pattern Baldness (MPB).

Vitamin B3 (Nicotinic acid) can increase the skin's resistance to potential harmful topical agents and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It can also reduce the risk of some types of skin cancer from developing.

In addition to this, Niacin has a common side effect, which is called the "Flush Effect." This makes you feel a burning sensation, and your skin may become red and itchy temporary.

It is considered to be a harmless side effect. However, this side effect has some benefits for your scalp!

A study performed by Klemp, Peters, and Hansted at the University of Copenhagen suggested that people who suffered from early male-pattern baldness had up to 2.6x lower subcutaneous blood flow compared to those with normal hair growth.

When Niacin is consumed, the flush effect stretches dermal blood vessels, which allow for better circulation of blood throughout the body. This includes the scalp and hair follicles.

Furthermore, studies have shown that Niacin can reduce the thickness of blood, which may also improve the circulation of blood flow.

Hair loss has many factors. However, reduced blood flow to your scalp results in nutrients not reaching your hair follicles. This can cause implications for your hair follicles, leading to hair loss!

Niacin can help you revive your hair follicles by flushing blood to your scalp.


Vitamin B3 (Niacin) can protect your skin from harmful topical agents and some types of skin cancer. It can also improve the blood flow to the scalp resulting in healthier hair and revival of dead hair follicles.

3. Supports Brain Function

Vitamin B3 (Nicotinamide) is known to play a role in the development, survival, and function in the central nervous system (CNS).

A deficiency of Niacin can develop a disease called "pellagra," which is characterized by the "4 Ds" (dermatitis, dementia, diarrhea, and death).

If left untreated, this can be fatal, cause severe health implications, and damage your brain.


Vitamin B3 (Niacin) supports healthy brain function and prevents a disease called "pellagra."

4. Lowers Triglycerides

Niacin can lower triglycerides by up to 50%. Triglycerides are the primary type of fat found within the body, which is necessary for maintaining health.

When you eat more calories than you need, your body will convert the rest of the calories into triglycerides and store it for later use.

If you are overweight, your triglycerides levels are likely high and therefore niacin can lower them and help you lose fat.


Niacin can lower triglycerides by up to 50%. This can be beneficial for overweight people.

5. May Help Prevent Type 1 Diabetes

A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled intervention trial was conducted in 40 first degree relatives of type 1 diabetic patients.

The study concluded that Nicotinamide could prevent type 1 diabetes when consumed in high doses. However, it did not show any effectiveness in lower doses.


Nicotinamide can reduce the risk of developing Type 1 Diabetes when consumed in high doses.

6. May Reduce Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis

A study was conducted on 72 patients with osteoarthritis who were randomized for treatment with niacinamide or an identical placebo for 12 weeks.

The study concluded that niacinamide improved the global impact of osteoarthritis, improved joint flexibility, reduced inflammation, and allowed for a reduction in standard anti-inflammatory medications when compared to placebo.


A study has shown that Niacin (niacinamide) can reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce inflammation.

7. Deficiency

A deficiency can occur depending on the following factors:

  • Poor Diet

  • Consumption of alcohol

  • Digestive System Disorders

  • Some Medications such as Isoniazid.

Deficiency / Pellagra symptoms include:

  • Delusions or mental confusion

  • Diarrhea

  • Weakness

  • Loss of appetite

  • Pain in abdomen

  • Inflamed mucous membrane

  • Scaly skin sores, especially in sun-exposed areas of the skin

8. Conclusion

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) is part of the essential B vitamins complex. It supports metabolism, brain function, maintaining healthy skin, hair, and healthy cholesterol levels.

A deficiency of Vitamin B3 is not common in developed countries. However, factors such as a poor diet, alcohol consumption, digestive system disorders, and some medications can increase the risk of developing a deficiency.

If you are concerned about your Vitamin B3 (Niacin) levels, we highly recommend that you seek advice from your healthcare provider.