Vitamin B3 also called niacin is an important B-complex vitamin that performs many key roles in the body. The vitamin was first discovered in 1867 when it was isolated from yeast and rice polishing. The other names for vitamin B3 are nicotinic acid and niacinamide.
Dried yeast is the best source of niacin, followed by rice bran, peanuts, and liver. Meat, fish and whole grain cereals are good sources while a fair amount of niacin can be obtained from milk, eggs, and some vegetables.
Niacin has many important health functions including:
Vital for skin health: A disease called pellagra results from a deficiency of niacin with marked skin lesions. Niacin is important to normal growth and health of skin cells.
Digestion and metabolism: Niacin is part of enzyme systems that help in many processes that go in during digestion and metabolism. When there is a lack of niacin in the diet, diarrhea, ulcers, irritation, and inflammation of tongue and mouth are seen.
Nervous system: Niacin is vital to preserving normal functions of brain cells. Without this vitamin, many nervous system disorders including depression, dementia and delirium, irritability, poor memory, and inability to concentrate can all be experienced.
Vitamin B3 lowers skin cancer risk
Many studies in recent times have also shown that vitamin B3 can lower the risk of skin cancer.
A study was conducted on 386 volunteers in the age group of 30 to 91, who had been treated for melanoma or skin cancer in the past five years. These were divided into two groups. One group was given 500 milligrams of vitamin B3 twice a day and the other was given a placebo. After 12 months, the group that received vitamin B3 had 23% less new melanoma as compared to the ones that did not receive the vitamin.
People who had taken the B3 supplement also had 20 percent lesser incidence of basal cell carcinomas and 30% lesser diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma. The trial was conducted in Royal Prince Alfred and Westmead Hospitals in Australia and was called the “Oral Nicotinamide To Reduce Actinic Cancer”(ONTRAC) study.
Vitamin B3 also helps in other skin conditions including acne. A study conducted at the State University of New York found reduced acne with a topical gel that had 4 % niacinamide – a form of B3 which was significant compared to the results achieved with the commonly used clindamycin gel to treat acne.
The studies done above also showed that niacin was safe in the doses that were tested on the volunteers and did not cause any side effects.
Disclaimer: The vitamin health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. VitaminsOnly strongly recommends to consult health care professionals for any questions concerning your health.
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