7 Health Benefits of Niacin (B3)
Last updated on July 16, 2011
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, aids many different metabolic processes in the body. It works by providing energy on a cellular level and by maintaining cell health, which is essential for just about every process within the body. Here are seven important health benefits of niacin.
Circulation and Heart Health
When you eat foods that contain niacin, you can prevent heart disease and maintain good circulation. It has been found that niacin may lower cholesterol levels and prevent cholesterol from settling into the arteries and liver. Additionally, it prevents atherosclerosis, which is a condition that may prevent proper blood circulation.
Researchers are still trying to identify why, but they are beginning to discover that diabetes may be affected by niacin consumption. Some people have been able to delay their need for supplemental insulin by using niacin as a supplement.
Muscle and Joint Help
Niacin increases the strength of your muscles and it also reduces pain and fatigue in the muscles and joints. Preliminary research has found that niacin may improve joint mobility in people with osteoarthritis, lessening the need for anti-inflammatory medications.
Eating healthy foods is not beneficial unless the nutrients are absorbed through the digestive system. Niacin aids in nutrient absorption so that you are getting the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that are needed for optimal health. It should be noted, however, that high doses of niacin have been found to potentially exacerbate digestive problems such as nausea and acid reflux. Taking niacin before bed with a light snack may prevent these digestive symptoms.
It has been found that niacin can balance the hormone levels within the body, which can in turn have numerous health benefits. Niacin helps to regulate sex hormones and supplementing with niacin or eating more niacin rich foods may help improve one’s sex life.
Research has found that high levels of dietary niacin may be associated with a lower risk of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Niacin deficiency is also associated with depression and overall mental impairment.
Niacin works within the body to improve energy levels partly because it helps the body achieve optimal nutrient absorption. When the body is getting the nutrients that are needed you will feel more energetic because everything is functioning normally.
Although niacin is essential for the body’s function, too much can have serious side effects. Too much niacin can cause something called the “niacin flush,” which causes the skin on the face and chest to turn red. Excessive doses of niacin may also cause liver problems and stomach ulcers. Niacin may also interfere with certain medications such as aspirin, antibiotics, blood thinners, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and blood pressure-lowering drugs. Be sure to consult with your physician before supplementing with niacin.