Vitamin B3 or niacin is one of the 8 water-soluble B vitamins. Niacin is the generic name of nicotinic acid, an organic element that is vital for performing several bodily functions.
There are two chemical forms of niacin which include nicotinic acid and niacinamide or nicotinamide. The body utilizes niacin as nicotinamide (niacinamide) to form two important coenzymes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP). Also Read: Vitamin B3: Functions, Food Sources, Deficiencies and Toxicity
In the human body, more than 400 enzymatic reactions require NAD as a catalytic for cellular metabolism. Niacin plays a vital role in cell signaling and DNA repairing and acts as an antioxidant too. It is also involved in the normal functioning of nervous system, lowers cholesterol, balance the hormones, enhances brain, skin and hair health.
Deficiency of niacin is mostly characterized by the following symptoms memory loss and mental confusion, lethargy, depression, headache, diarrhea and skin issues. Severe cases of niacin deficiency may result in pellagra where the diet is not balanced and varied.
The recommended dietary allowance of niacin for normal adult men is 16-21mg/d and women are 12-16mg/d.
Niacin is available in a spectrum of dietary sources which include nuts, legumes, fortified cereals, dairy products and animal products. As niacin is water-soluble the body doesn’t store it and the excess amount is excreted if the body does not need it. The body gets niacin through dietary sources and also makes small amounts from the amino acid tryptophan.