Niacin / Nicotinimide (Vitamin B3)

Background

Vitamin B3, also called as niacin, is an important water-soluble vitamin which is third of eight B-Vitamins.  It was discovered in 1937 and as a result it became possible to relieve of pellagra, a niacin deficiency disease that causes horrible skin lesions, diarrhea, dementia, and sometimes even death.[1] Now Vitamin B3 or Niacin has been widely used as a nootropic supplement to enhance cognitive ability.[2]

Benefits

Vitamin B3, niacin is much beneficial to our health. Vitamin B3 decreases LDL cholesterol and triglycerides that can cause blockages in blood vessels, increases beneficial HDL cholesterol which can remove other cholesterol from the body. It increases circulation, develops brain function by improving the oxygen carrying capacity of the red blood cells, controls blood run in memory tissue, and is able to mobilize fat from cells into the blood. Vitamin B3 also strengthens GABA, which is a calming neurotransmitter.[3]
The common health benefits of Vitamin B3 include:

  • Improve cognition and memory [9]
  • Promote mood [10]
  • Improves cholesterol levels [11]
  • Improve heart health [12]
  • Help people who are suffering diabetes [13]
  • Maintain skin health [14]
  • Help people who have Alzheimer’s disease [15]
  • Lower the occurrence of symptoms of arthritis [16]
  • Help people who are with pellagra [17]
  • Improve blood flow to the genital region and improve erectile dysfunction [18]
  • Reduce birth defects [19]
  • Lower risks for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) [20]

Being a nootropic supplement, Vitamin B3 helps improve cognition, memory, mood and neuroplasticity.[4] Studies show that Vitamin B3 can help to lower the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, eye problems like cataracts, osteoarthritis, circulation problems, migraine, headache, dizziness, and learning disorders like ADHD.[5]
Vitamin B3 also helps to lessen skin inflammation, flare ups, irritation, and redness.
Vitamin B3 niacin supplementation can help decrease impotence because it acts as a vasodilator that helps improve blood stream to the genital region.

How it works

Vitamin B3, Niacin, is a precursor to the coenzymes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP) that are involved in cellular metabolism.
Vitamin B3, niacin, being a precursor to NAD and NADP, repairs cells and DNA damage and stimulates our immune system. Niacin enhances the production of Nitric Oxide (NO) that relaxes blood vessels in our brain boosting cerebral blood flow. Niacin also acts as an antioxidant helping to eliminate free radicals which can damage brain cells.
As a precursor to NAD, niacin also provides electrons for ATP synthesis that fuels mitochondria in brain cells. Low levels of niacin result in brain fog, slow mental processing, and cognitive decline.
Vitamin B3 affects cognitive function by stimulating the production of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are involved in memory, learning, cognition, recall and mood.

Considerations

The common side effects are feeling warmth, redness, itching or tingling of the face, neck, arms or upper chest. This is called “flushing”. To prevent flushing, avoid drinking hot beverages or alcohol at the same time you take Vitamin B3, niacin.

Recommendations

The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for Vitamin B3 niacin is as follows, according to the USDA :

  • Children: between 2-16 milligrams daily, depending on age
  • Men: 16 milligrams daily
  • Women: 14 milligrams daily
  • Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding 17- 18 milligrams daily

Remember that the ideal dosage of niacin is higher than the RDA deems sufficient for you to not fall ill and depends on how you’re using it, your age, weight, gender, and specific needs. Optimal dosages are around 50mg for most active adults. High doses of 2 to 3 grams or more have even been known to reduce high cholesterol.

Sources