The Top Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Rich Foods + Recipes

Why is Vitamin B3 (Niacin) important? How much do you need each day? What do deficiencies look like? Which foods and recipes contain it?

By
Bella Grace
The Top Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Rich Foods + Recipes

What is Vitamin B3?

Vitamin B3 is one of the eight B vitamins and is also known as niacin (nicotinic acid). It has two other forms, niacinamide (nicotinamide) and inositol hexanicotinate (IHN), which have different effects from niacin. For example, niacinamide does not cause skin flushing but may cause excessive sweating and IHN has a slower absorption.  Niacin functions in the body as an active component in the coenzymes NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and NADP (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate).

Why is Vitamin B3 important and what does it do in the body?

Vitamin B3, like many of the B vitamins, plays an important role in many body reactions. It supports over 50 chemical reactions in the body and plays an important role in energy production as well as the metabolism of fat, cholesterol and carbohydrate. It also has a role in the production of sex and adrenal hormones and supports brain function, reducing the use of tryptophan. Niacin is also involved in the regulation of blood sugar, anti-oxidation mechanisms and detoxification reactions. It is commonly used in the form of nicotinic acid for individuals with high cholesterol.

What amount of Vitamin B3 do you need each day?

The body converts the amino acid tryptophan to create niacin (using also B6 and iron), and consequently deficiencies in B3 are not common. Daily recommendations for niacin in the diet of healthy individuals are listed below.

Generally, high doses of niacin are used to control specific diseases such as elevated cholesterol, pellagra (a B3 deficiency disease with symptoms such as diarrhea and mental disturbance), dermatitis and dementia. It also helps with recent onset Insulin Dependent Diabetes, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. High doses must be prescribed by a qualified professional and it is recommended that regular screening for liver stress and cholesterol status are completed. If doses above 50mg per day are required, facial flushing may be a result and inositol hexaniacinate is recommended to reduce this affect.

The DRI (Daily Recommended Intake) /RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of dietary vitamin B3 are listed below:

Please Note: By definition, the DRI/RDA recommendations apply only to 98% of healthy individuals and are not sufficient for those with higher nutrient requirements based upon their biochemical individuality, genetics, health status, medications, deficiencies, lifestyle, and toxic exposures.

Daily recommendations for Vitamin B3 are listed below.

Pediatric

  • Infants birth     - 6 months: 2 mg (adequate intake)
  • Infants 7     months - 1 year: 4 mg (adequate intake)
  • Children 1- 3     years: 6 mg (RDA)
  • Children 4 - 8     years: 8 mg (RDA)
  • Children 9 -     13 years: 12 mg (RDA)
  • Boys 14 - 18     years: 16 mg (RDA)
  • Girls 14 - 18     years: 14 mg (RDA)

Adult

  • Men 19 years     and older: 16 mg (RDA)
  • Women 19 years     and older: 14 mg (RDA)
  • Pregnant     women: 18 mg (RDA)
  • Breastfeeding     women: 17 mg (RDA)

People who do not eat a balanced diet every day may benefit from taking a multivitamin and mineral complex.

Recommended Daily Allowance 18mg/Day

Optimal Daily Allowance 85mg/Day

What are possible Vitamin B3 (Niacin) deficiency conditions and symptoms?

Claudication (cramping in the calf muscle when walking)

Depression

Dermatitis

Diarrhea

Eczema

Edema (Water Retention)

Fatigue

High cholesterol

Hyperpigmentation

Insomnia

Loss of Appetite

Memory Loss

Osteoarthritis

Raynauds disease (cold hands and feet)

Red neck

Rheumatoid arthritis

Schizophrenia

Skin eruptions

Sore tongue/mouth

Stress and Anxiety

 

What are possible Vitamin B3 excess symptoms?

Niacin should not be used without professional guidance. Caution should be exercised in individuals with previous or current liver disease or elevated liver enzymes, gout or peptic ulcers.If high dose niacin, inositol hexaniacinate or niacinamide therapy is used, periodic checking of liver function and cholesterol is required

20-30 minutes after taking niacin there may be facial flushing.  This may be reduced using sustained or timed-release/slow-release niacin products. Such products may be more toxic to the liver and cause liver damage. Other side effects include gastric irritation, nausea. Niacin can impair glucose tolerance.

What steals Vitamin B3 from the body?

Certain drugs

Bile acid sequestrants.

Broad spectrum antibiotics: Amoxicillin/Clavulanic Acid (Augmentin), Vancomycin

What tests can be used to assess Vitamin B3 or niacin levels?

N-Methylnicotinamide, lactate and pyruvate in urine

Erythrocyte (red blood cell) levels of NAD and Polyadenosine diphosphate (ADP)ribosylation

Urinary ketoacid elevations

Fecal fat

What foods contain the highest amounts of Vitamin B3?

Top 10 Vitamin B3 (niacin) rich foods are:
1. Yeast extract 97mg/100g

Recipe: Creamy Cheese Sauce

Recipe: Cauliflower Popcorn

2. Yellow fin tuna 22.1mg/100g

Recipe: Paleo Tuna Salad

3. Anchovies 19.9mg/100g

Recipe: Spicy Sauteed Mushrooms with Anchovy

4. Liver 16.7mg/100g

Recipe: Chicken Liver with Onions + Bacon

5. Peanuts 14.9mg/100g

Recipe: Homemade Nutter Butters

Recipe: Homemade Snickers Bars

Recipe: Reece's Chocolate Cheesecake

6. Turkey breast 14.3mg/100g

Recipe: Turkey Roll Ups

Recipe: Turkey Burgers

7. Chicken 12.5mg/100g

Recipe: Creamy Chicken Thighs

Recipe: Chicken Tikka Masala

Recipe: Chicken Tenders

8. Pork (lean cooked chop) 10.9mg/100g

Recipe: Pork Chops with Braised Apples

9. Beef (Cooked lean rib) 9.0mg/100g

Recipe: Beef Enchiladas

Recipe: Crispy Szechuan Style Beef

10. Sunflower seeds 8.3mg/100g

Recipe: Cinnamon Spice Baked N'Oatmeal

Recipe: Rosemary Raisin Crackers

This article was written by Jonathan Tommey, clinical nutritionist and Bella Grace, NTP. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Content should not be considered a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

Bella Grace

Isabella Grace is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner focusing on toxin-free, natural living to its fullest extent. Her mission is to provide personalized integrative health solutions to create sustainable, lifelong change and enable you to live, love, and serve at your fullest health potential.

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