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You + Me + B3

Karen Alexander, Licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

April 1, 2021

Boost Your Energy with Niacin

Vitamin B3, also called Niacin (NA), is a B vitamin that helps your body to turn food into energy. NA plays a critical role in maintaining cellular antioxidant function, which can reduce your risk of cancer. Due to the water-soluble nature of NA, your body will rid itself of any excess through the urine.

  • Men who are 18 years and older need 16 mg of niacin equivalents
  • Women who are 18 years and older need 14 mg
    • However, during pregnancy and lactation, women will need to consume 18 mg
7 Health Benefits of Niacin
1. Cellular integrity and function

Once NA is absorbed, its active form is involved in the maintenance of genome integrity, control of gene expression and cellular communication.

2. Cardiovascular health

NA may reduce blood pressure, oxidative stress and the risk of arteriosclerosis. It increases HDL (good cholesterol) and reduces triglycerides plasma levels. NA can decrease cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, especially when used in combination with statin drugs. Precaution should be exercised since therapeutic doses can increase blood glucose.

3. Immune system and inflammation modulator

NA has immunomodulatory properties and it exhibits an anti-inflammatory effect by decreasing inflammatory molecules (pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α) in patients with ventilator-induced lung injury. Recent evidence indicates that targeting IL-6 could help control the inflammatory storm in patients with COVID-19.

4. Joint and muscles benefit

Niacinamide supplementation has shown to improve the global impact of osteoarthritis, improve joint flexibility, reduce inflammation and allow for a reduction in standard anti-inflammatory medications when compared to placebo.

  • Smoother skin surface
  • Reduction in skin roughness
  • Improvement in fine lines and wrinkles
  • Improvement of the hydration status of the skin
  • Reduced facial hyperpigmentation,
  • Decrease redness/blotchiness, decrease skin yellowness (sallowness)
  • Improved skin elasticity
5. Skin beauty and anti-aging effect
  • Smoother skin surface
  • Reduction in skin roughness
  • Improvement in fine lines and wrinkles
  • Improvement of the hydration status of the skin
  • Reduced facial hyperpigmentation,
  • Decrease redness/blotchiness, decrease skin yellowness (sallowness)
  • Improve skin elasticity
6. Anti-depression effects

Niacinamide has potential antidepressant effects, especially in combination with tryptophan or in combination with antidepressant medications.

7. Treats pellagra

Severe niacin deficiency leads to pellagra, a condition that affects the skin, the gastrointestinal tract and the nervous system.  Although pellagra is uncommon, certain populations are at high risk of developing NA deficiency. The populations include people living in poverty, undernourished people with chronic health conditions (anorexia nervosa, cancer, carcinoid syndrome) and people with Hartnup disease (rare genetic disorder.) Additionally, people who have alcohol use disorder, AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease or liver cirrhosis are at a higher risk.

Pellagra Symptoms Include:

  • Rough skin that turns red or brown in the sun
  • A bright red tongue
  • Vomiting, constipation or diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Aggressive, paranoid, or suicidal behavior
  • Hallucinations, apathy, loss of memory
8.  Ameliorate ulcerative colitis and pellagra, one of the many complications of Crohn’s disease
9. Improves erectile dysfunction

Abnormally elevated cholesterol or fats (lipids) in the blood, also known as dyslipidemia, are closely related to erectile dysfunction. Recent studies have found that vitamin B3 (niacin) can improve erectile function in patients suffering from moderate to severe ED and dyslipidemia due to its lipid-lowering effect.

Risks of NA Supplementation

NA can be obtained through foods and supplements. Additionally, the body can convert the amino acid tryptophan to nicotinamide. Although it is very important for the body’s function, NA supplementation is not advised for people with active peptic ulcer disease, liver disease or arterial bleeding and hypersensitivity. It should be noted that NA can increase uric acid and the risk of bleeding, decrease phosphorus levels and interact with many medications such as tuberculosis drugs and diabetes medications. Due to the increased risk of side effects, any supplementation should be closely monitored by a doctor. For example:

  • Doses 30 mg or more of nicotinic acid can make the skin on your face, arms and chest turn red, burn, tingle, and itch. These symptoms can also lead to headaches, rashes and dizziness.
  • Doses of 1,000 or more mg per day can cause more severe side effects.
Food Sources

The niacin that is found naturally in food is safe. NA food sources include animal-based foods, such as red and white meats, which provide about 5-10 mg of NE per serving. Other sources of NA can be found in plant-based foods that provide about 2-5 mg of NE per serving.

Excellent food sources of Niacin include:

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Turkey
  • Salmon
  • Peanuts

The recipe of the week comes via Beaming Baker: Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Energy Bites


  • 1 cup natural, unsalted creamy peanut butter
    • Note: Two tablespoons (32 grams) of peanut butter contain 4.3 mg of niacin.
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder


  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper. Clear some space in the freezer for this sheet. Set aside at room temperature.
  2. In a medium bowl, add peanut butter, maple syrup, coconut flour and cacao powder. Whisk as needed until consistency is present. When the mixture gets harder to stir, use a rubber spatula to fold until well incorporated. Fold until thickened.
  3. Using a cookie scoop, scoop and drop peanut butter balls onto the prepared baking sheet, spaced evenly apart. Transfer to the freezer to chill for 20-30 minutes, until somewhat firm. Roll the balls and present using mini baking paper cups.




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