Feel tired and sluggish even though you get plenty of good sleep, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet?
You may need more niacin.
Niacin is another name for vitamin B3. It is a key vitamin for maintaining a healthy metabolism. Simply stated, it turns food into energy. B3 breaks down carbohydrates – sugars and starches – and fats into energy and protein into amino acids which are critical for developing and keeping tissue healthy.
Like all of the B family vitamins, niacin is water-soluble – it dissolves in water. The body is able to eliminate excess amounts of water-soluble nutrients through the urine, helping to prevent toxicity from consuming too much.
Other vitamins are fat-soluble. The difference is important because the human body can store fat-soluble vitamins but it can’t store their water-soluble counterparts, including B3. Because of this, niacin must be ingested every day to prevent a deficiency.
When we don’t get enough niacin, our bodies start to slow down as they lose energy. Unusual fatigue or disorientation might be signaling low B3 levels. Every part of the human body needs B3 in order to work properly.
Because it is so essential, niacin is usually included in daily multivitamins – check the label for how much there is in each tablet.
Niacin is also provided by many foods: cereal grains, milk, yeast, and meat.
There is a fine line between getting enough niacin and overdoing it. Serious side effects can result from taking large doses of B3: 2,000 mg to 6,000 mg a day.
Many people say that it isn’t hard to tell when they have taken too much niacin. The blood vessels in the skin dilate (widen) and blood flows to the surface of the skin, producing a burning sensation and reddening.
NOTE: Seek medical attention without delay if you suspect you have taken too much niacin.
The Renegade Pharmacist advocates enjoying the “magic” of niacin as a dietary supplement and embraces the “niacin flush” with its warming effect on the body which starts about 20 to 30 minutes after dosing. Within 1 hour, “You have this warm glowing sensation that can last for several hours. A bit like the ‘runner’s high’ you get after a gym workout. Your mood elevates, energy goes up and your brain functions better with more clarity.”
The long-term benefits of getting enough vitamin B3 include:
- Detoxification of heavy metal and toxins stored in fat cells (especially when combined with sauna therapy)
- Energize (50 – 500 mg daily will give a natural energy boost)
- Anti-arthritic (better than NSAIDS, 1,000 to 1,500 mg a day for moderate arthritis; 3,000 mg to 4,000 mg for severe inflammation)
- Cardio health (1,000 to 3,000 mg a day)
- Improved brain function (1,000 mg of niacin is taken 3 times a day can help memory and correct certain senility problems)
- Prevent hair loss
- Fight insomnia (50 mg to 500mg at bedtime)
- Mood elevator
- Fight cancer (linked to DNA repair, genomic stability, and the immune system)
- Clear complexion (eliminate acne with daily doses of 400 mg to 500 mg)
- Combat dementia (protects against Alzheimer’s disease and other aging brain disorders that cause cognitive decline)
Vitamin B3 also contributes to a healthy digestive tract, nervous system, and skin. “The recommended daily amount of niacin for adult males is 16 milligrams (mg) a day and for adult women who aren’t pregnant, 14 mg a day,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
Doctors prescribe niacin to patients to help balance cholesterol levels. One exception is pregnancy. Expecting mothers should avoid taking niacin to control cholesterol. Instead, it should only be used to correct a vitamin deficiency.
The combination of reducing cholesterol and blood pressure makes niacin very heart-healthy. It relieves hypertension (high blood pressure) which puts strain on the heart and arterial walls. Left unchecked, this extra pressure can contribute to heart damage or a ruptured blood vessel wall.
There are some health risks linked to niacin: it can aggravate allergies, gallbladder disease and symptoms of some thyroid disorders. Diabetics may find that niacin hampers blood glucose control and interferes with the body’s normal insulin response.
People with liver or peptic ulcer disease or severely low blood pressure (hypotension) are advised not to take large amounts of niacin. B3 has been associated with liver damage, can cause hypotension, and might trigger a peptic ulcer.
Sufferers from the complex form of arthritis gout need to avoid taking too much niacin because it can overstimulate uric acid production in the blood (hyperuricemia), raising the risk of a painful bout of gout.
Although rare in the western world, people with niacin deficiencies experience symptoms that include:
- Memory loss and mental confusion
- Skin problems
Severe niacin deficiency is called pellagra. It is found mainly in third world countries where diets are not nutrient-rich and varied.