Niacin, generally referred to as vitamin B3, acts much like other B vitamins within the human body. As a dietary supplement or as a nutrient found in many food sources, niacin helps convert food calories into energy. This essential nutrient also provides many other health benefits.
Often classified as an essential nutrient, niacin does not reside in the human body naturally. Therefore, you must consume enough during the day through food sources or supplements. However, vitamin B3 deficiency remains very rare because countless food items contain the nutrient.
Niacin acts as a water-soluble vitamin. Your body absorbs some of the nutrient and passes the excess amounts through urination and sweating.
Niacin Health Functions
When consumed at higher levels, niacin has shown to provide health benefits including the reduction of fat deposits within the body. Vitamin B3 also helps lower cholesterol levels. Without proper levels of niacin you will immediately notice side effects.
Niacin deficiencies usually cause muscle fatigue and weakness, a loss of appetite, and sometimes skin problems. Extreme deficiencies tend to cause a disease known as pellagra, which eventually leads to brain-related issues.
Consuming too much of the vitamin often causes dry or itchy skin, skin flushing and rashes. In extreme cases, the nutrient has the ability to damage the liver.
Like most B vitamins, niacin generally helps your body metabolize food items in order to gain energy. Proper muscle function and growth take place in part due to the regular consumption of vitamin B3. This nutrient comes in pill and powder form at grocery stores and vitamin shops. It can also be found in food sources like meat and nuts.