Vitamin B3 is known as Niacin or nicotinic acid. There are two other forms of niacin: niacinamide and inositol hexanicotinate. These other forms of niacin do not work in the same way as niacin. Please Do NOT confuse the forms they are not equivalent and do not work the same way in the body.

The main benefits of B3 are:

  • Improving Brain Function
  • Lowering LDL- Cholesterol (L is lousy – ‘bad’ cholesterol)
  • Lowering Triglycerides
  • Increasing HDL- Cholesterol (H is Happy – ‘good’ cholesterol)

The metabolically active form of Niacin is the coenzyme NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). NAD then converts to NADP (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate). NAD helps with creating cellular energy, cellular communication and control of gene expression. NADP helps with cellular antioxidant function and the synthesis of cholesterol and fatty acids.

For Reference and Completion:

Niacin Deficiency

Severe niacin deficiency leads to pellagra, a disease characterized by a pigmented rash or brown discoloration on skin exposed to sunlight; The neurological symptoms of pellagra can include depression; apathy; headache; fatigue; loss of memory that can progress to aggressive, paranoid, and suicidal behaviors; and auditory and visual hallucinations (may resemble schizophrenia).
Pellagra is not common and is mostly limited to people living in poverty, such as refugees and displaced people who eat very limited diets low in niacin and protein.

Niacin Excess

Usually will come from supplementation. Too much niacin may cause flushing; the skin on the patient’s face, arms, and chest turns a reddish color because of vasodilation of small subcutaneous blood vessels accompanied by burning, tingling, and itching sensations. These signs and symptoms are typically transient and can occur within 30 minutes
Severe niacin excess my cause hypotension (low blood pressure), fatigue, impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance; gastrointestinal effects, such as nausea, heartburn, and abdominal pain; and ocular effects, such as blurred or impaired vision and macular edema (a buildup of fluid at the center of the retina). High doses of nicotinic acid taken over months or years can also be toxic to the liver.

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Dr. Laurie Goldman is a medical doctor, psychiatrist, and functional medicine practitioner who’s been in private practice since 1999. She founded Clear Path Wellness to help her patients reach their maximum state of mental and physical health using a personalized, comprehensive approach powered by the principles of functional medicine, which treats the whole person, not just symptoms.   

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B Vitamins Vitamin B3 – Everything You Need To Know