Vitamin B3

We recommend:

Nature’s Sunshine Vitamin B complex
Vitamin B-3 is made up of niacin (nicotinic acid) and its amide, nicotinamide (or “niacinamide”). Some niacin is converted to niacinamide in the body and though the two are identical in their vitamin functions, niacinamide does not have the same bodily effects of niacin as explained below.

Vitamin B3 is a water soluble nutrient, measured in milligrams (mg), and is part of the vitamin B complex. It has a key role in cell metabolism because it is needed to help process fats, proteins and carbohydrates.  It’s involved in DNA repair and the production of steroid hormones in the adrenal glands.

Please note: Niacin can cause temporary skin flushing (redness, heat and itching) usually experienced soon after ingestion which is why it can help with some circulatory disorders as explained below.

Function How it helps
Essential Coenzyme (all forms of B3) Some of Niacin is converted into the several coenzymes, including nicotinamide, which are essential to many processes including: energy production, synthesis of DNA and certain hormones; the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, cholesterol and proteins; and the growth of body tissues.
Cholesterol and Fat Regulation (niacin or inositol hexanicotinate only) Niacin is an accepted treatment for high cholesterol, as is inositol hexanicotinate (a combined form of Niacin with  Inositol which offers similar benefits to Niacin but without the problem of skin flushing that Niacin can cause). Multiple studies show that niacin and inositol hexanicotinate (but not niacinamide) have significant benefits on levels of high-density cholesterol (HDL or “good cholesterol”), with better results than prescription drugs such as the so-called “statins” and without the high risk of toxicity associated with the drugs.  There are also benefits on levels of low-density cholesterol (LDL or “bad cholesterol”), although these effects are less dramatic.Please note: Research shows that inositol hexanicotinate is a more clinically effective cholesterol/ lipid-lowering agent than standard niacin, as well as possessing lower toxicity and little risk of side effects.
Blood Sugar Regulation in Diabetes Type 1 & Type 2 (niacinamide only) Niacinamide may prevent diabetes or delay the need for insulin in individuals with type 1 diabetes. Niacinamide increases both the sensitivity and secretion of insulin. It also appears to protect the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas from damage caused by various factors including auto-immune reactions and free radicals. Such damage is associated with the development of insulin-dependant diabetes mellitus (IDDM)
Circulation (niacin and inositol hexanicotinate only) Both niacin and inositol hexanicotinate have been found to increase blood flow in circulatory disorders such as Raynaud’s Disease (fingers and toes that are hypersensitive to cold) and intermittent claudication (a disease which depletes oxygen in the lower extremities and, inter alia, can cause walking-induced cramping). Some of the circulatory benefits of niacin and inositol hexanicotinate are due to the influence on blood clotting and blood lipids. Please note: With inositol hexanicotinate, the vasodilation is sufficiently gradual to completely avoid the flushing symptoms, however this also means that the circulatory stimulation will not be as prominent or acute as with standard niacin preparations.
Pellagra (niacin) Niacin (vitamin B3) and niacinamide is an approved treatment for Pellagra. Pellagra is a nutritional disease that develops due to insufficient dietary vitamin B3 or the chemical it is made from, tryptophan. Symptoms of pellagra include skin disease, diarrhoea, dementia, and depression.
Atherosclerosis (niacin) Niacin decreases blood levels of cholesterol and lipoprotein, which may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (“hardening” of the arteries). However, niacin also can increase homocysteine levels, which may have the opposite effect. Overall, the scientific evidence supports the use of niacin in combination with other drugs (but not alone) to decrease cholesterol and slow the process of atherosclerosis. More research is needed in this area before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Skin conditions Niacinamide has been used in skin care products, including moisturizers, anti-aging products, and rosacea treatments. The benefits of niacinamide in skin care needs to be further studied before recommendations are made. 


Best food sources
Fish Liver Meat
Nuts Whole grains and cereals Mushrooms
Brewers Yeast legumes Avocados
Leafy green vegetables Tomatoes Eggs
Milk Carrots


Deficiency Symptoms

Rough, scaly, dry, cracked skin


Emotional instability


Inflammation of mouth & gastrointestinal tract

Skin redness & inflammation

Short term memory impairment

Mouth ulcers






Nervous disorders


Swollen red tongue


Typical Supplemental Dosage Range:  10-500mg per day

Factors which deplete levels, impair absorption and/or inhibit activity:

Excessive intake of sugar


Isoniazid (TB drug)


Vitamin B6 deficiency

Contraindications/Drug Interactions

  • Niacin (not inositol hexanicotinate or niacinamide) may cause temporary ‘flushing’ (redness, tingling, sensation of heat, itchiness), especially in doses above 50-100mg. The ‘niacin flush’ has not been shown to be harmful to the body.

    Please note: The duration and seventy of the flushing depends on the person, the dosage and the quantity and type of food and/or drink in the stomach at the time. With consistent daily use of a particular dose of niacin, the severity of the flush will typically diminish gradually, to the point that the flush will eventually cease to occur after ingestion.

  • Time-release preparations of niacin may cause liver damage, and should be avoided.

    Please note: Although the niacin in inositol hexanicotinate is metabolised one molecule at a time (due to molecular bonding to inositol) it is NOT a time-release preparation and does not possess the safety risks of time-release niacin.

  • High-dose niacin in any form should be avoided in those with pre-existing liver disease (or elevated liver enzymes) or gall bladder disease, unless under medical supervision.

  • It is advised that liver function and cholesterol testing be periodically carried out on those using long-term high-dose niacin (i.e. more than 2000mg per day) in any form.

  • Long-term, high-dose niacin or inositol hexanicotinate should be avoided in diabetics unless medically supervised, as it may impair glucose tolerance and decrease effectiveness of anti-diabetic drugs.

  • High-dose niacin should be avoided in cases of pregnancy, peptic ulcers or gout unless under medical supervision.

  • Taking high-dose niacin with alcohol, beta-blockers, mecamylamine or pargyline may cause severe hypotension (low blood pressure).

  • High-dose niacin may occasionally cause nausea and gastric irritation.

  • High-dose niacinamide may cause depression in some adults.

  • Niacin may reduce effectiveness of chenodiol (drug for dissolving gallstones).

  • High-dose niacin may reduce the effectiveness of choline and block zinc in the body.

  • Niacin and inositol hexanicotinate should be taken with food.

  • High doses of single B-vitamins may deplete other B-vitamins; therefore if high doses are required, supplementation with a multivitamin or B-complex is advised.

Please note: Research shows that as well as avoiding the ‘niacin flush’, inositol hexanicotinate is less toxic and more clinically effective than standard niacin preparations.

Leave a Reply