Niacin (vitamin B3): what it is for, function and food

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Niacin, vitamin B3 or PP is an essential micronutrient that participates in various functions of the body, such as reducing cholesterol, improving blood circulation and maintaining the health of the nervous system. In addition, it is a type of water-soluble vitamin that can be found in two forms in the body, such as nicotinic acid and nicotinamide.

A small percentage of niacin is produced in the body, from the conversion in the liver of the amino acid tryptophan, however, it is obtained mainly through the ingestion of foods of animal and vegetable origin such as chicken, fish or avocados, for example. example; however, if necessary, it can be ingested through vitamin supplements.

what is it for

Niacin exerts several functions in the organism and in turn could provide several benefits, which include:

  • Help convert food into energy for cellsbecause it gives rise to coenzymes that participate in this process;
  • Maintain cell healthit can regulate processes such as gene expression, DNA repair and cell death;
  • Improve diabetes controldue to which it regulates the secretion of insulin;
  • Maintain the immune systembecause it helps to activate the defense cells of the organism;
  • The form of nicotinic acid helps to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterolbecause it inhibits the movement of free fatty acids and lipolysis, reduces the production of triglycerides and the secretion of VLDL by the liver, and increases the levels of HDL, helping in turn to protect the health of the heart;
  • Maintain the health of the nervous system, because the brain needs this vitamin to produce energy and function properly, so it could protect against diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression and other psychiatric illnesses. In addition, it could alleviate headache and migraine pain;
  • Maintain skin healthprotecting it from the damage that causes UV rays;
  • Could protect against some types of canceras the skin, mouth and throat;
  • Could alleviate the symptoms of arthritisdue to its anti-inflammatory effect.

In addition, some scientific studies indicate that nicotinic acid could increase the sensitivity of the tumor to radiation or chemotherapy, however, further studies are necessary.

Foods with Vitamin B3

The table below indicates the amount of niacin per 100 grams of food:

Foods Vitamin B3 abundance
Liver a la plancha 11.92 mg
cooked fresh tuna 11 mg
Tuna canned in oil 9.8 mg
cockatoos 10.18 mg
pollo cocido 7.6 mg
Seeds of ajonjoli 5.92 mg
whole wheat harina 5.4 mg
cooked salmon 5.35 mg
Trucha a la plancha 4.5 mg

tomato paste

2.42 mg
Avena today 2.4 mg
almonds 2.1 mg
avocado 1.1 mg
hake 1 mg

In addition, it is also important to increase the consumption of tryptophan, an amino acid that increases the activity of niacin in the organism and which is present in queso, los huevos and cacahuates, for example. See a list of foods rich in tryptophan.

daily niacin requirement

The recommended daily amount of niacin varies according to the age, as shown in the table below:

  • 0 to 6 months: 2 mg.
  • 7 to 12 months: 4 mg
  • 1 to 3 years: 6 mg
  • 4 to 8 years: 8 mg
  • 9 to 13 years: 12 mg
  • Men from 14 years: 16 mg
  • Women from 14 years: 18 mg
  • Embarrassed women: 18 mg
  • Women in the period of lactation: 17 mg

Niacin supplements should be taken carefully and under the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist, since in excess they can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, tingling, comezón, reddening of the skin and headache.

niacin deficiency

Vitamin B3 or tryptophan deficiency can cause pellagra, an illness whose characteristic symptoms are associated with the onset of diarrhea, dermatitis and dementia.

This disease is not common in developed countries, however, it persists in underdeveloped countries, appearing mainly in alcoholic people, with malnutrition or in people who feed on corn. Other risk factors are anorexia nervosa, diseases that cause malabsorption of nutrients, AIDS, cancer or chemotherapy.

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Consult a Doctor | Translated by User2937

Content for educational purposes only

The translator user relied on the following text:

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