With the fourth vitamin in our row, we are getting to the third vitamin in the vitamin B complex. Vitamin B3 plays an important role in our metabolism, especially in the protein metabolism. In this blog post, you will find information about Niacin, which is the well-known name for vitamin B3, based on the question “What are the Functions and Benefits of Vitamin B3? – The Enzyme Builder.
Why can you call Vitamin B3 “The Enzyme Builder”?
Vitamin B3 also called niacin, has a very important function in our metabolism, namely the protein, the fat and the carbohydrate metabolism. There the most important task of vitamin B3 is to support enzymes as a building block of coenzymes. They help the enzymes to work well. The two considerable coenzymes in which
vitamin B3 plays an important role are NAD (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and NADP (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate). This is the general notation. The oxidated form is NAD+/NADP+ and the reduced form is NADH/NADPH. These coenzymes participate in different redox reactions in order to generate energy for the body cells out of macro nutrients like protein, fat and carbohydrates.
Now you know that vitamin B3 or niacin is necessary to provide your body with enough energy so that you can do what you like.
What is Vitamin B3?
Vitamin B3 is the third vitamin of the essential vitamins in the vitamin-b-complex, which we have to get through our nutrition.
It is a water-soluble, organic compound, which is also known as niacin and it represents a group of compounds. In this group, there is nicotinic acid (pyridine 3 – carbonic acid) and nicotinamide. These are the precursors of the coenzymes NAD (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and NADP (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate).
What is the demand of Vitamin B3?
Depending on the age, health and lifestyle the daily demand for an average and healthy adult for the essential vitamin B3 is
16.000 – 18.000 micrograms (μg) per day.
Where can you get Vitamin B3 from (Top 5 foods)?
Here are the Top 5 foods, which are rich in vitamin B3:
1. Peanuts (up to 20.000 μg/100g)
2. Mushrooms (up to 6000 μg/100g)
3. Sesame and brown rice (up to 5000 μg/100g)
4. Pulses like lentils and peas (up to 3000 μg/100g)
5. Cale and broccoli (up to 2000 μg/100g)
Tip: Brewers yeast is an overall good source of the vitamins in vitamin B complex, which includes the highest amount of vitamin B3 (up to 35.000 μg/100g). Other good animal sources of vitamin B3, which should be at least organic and should not be eaten on a daily basis are fish, liver (up to 20.000 μg/100g) and poultry (up to 15.000 μg/100g).
What are the functions and benefits of Vitamin B3?
As mentioned above, the main and most important function of vitamin B3 is its participation in the energy metabolism. In the protein, the fat and the carbohydrate metabolism, it is indispensable as a component of the coenzymes NAD/NADP. There it runs redox reactions like the citrate cycle and the respiratory chain, which are processes to generate energy on the cellular level. Moreover, it is involved in the regeneration of body substances like skin, muscles, nerves and the DNA. Therefore, it is very important for the nerve system and a good function of the brain.
It is also known to decrease blood fat values.
What deficiency symptoms of Vitamin B3 exist?
A hypovitaminosis of vitamin B3 is normally seldom. Some risk groups are people who have untreated corn as a staple in their diet, women, who are pregnant, smoker, alcoholics and athletes. The symptoms can be as followed:
- gastrointestinal complaints
- inflammations in the mouth and adjacent areas
- skin diseases like eczemas
- no appetite, aggression and a lack of concentration
- other psychological and neurological disorders
A very typical disease due to a dangerous lack of vitamin B3 is pellagra, which causes the above symptoms, but to a greater extent, which can lead to death. At the beginning of the 20th century about 3 mio. South Americans were affected by this disease. Now only in some areas of the developing countries, it is still an issue.
In Mexico, where corn is a staple, there is a cooking technique, where the corn is treated in an alkaline solution (for example lime water) in order to make the niacin accessible for the body.
What overdose symptoms of Vitamin B3 exist?
A hypervitaminosis of vitamin B3 is seldom, as constant high amounts over 30.000 μg are needed. This can cause the followed symptoms:
- low blood pressure and a rise of urea acid in the blood
- vertigo or other circulatory problems
- gastrointestinal complaints
- liver damage
What else may you have to consider about Vitamin B3?
Vitamin B3 was first synthesized in 1867 through the oxidation of nicotine. The importance to the human body was found out in 1936. Around this time, it was also called vitamin PP or Pellagra-Preventing-Factor, as it was discovered, that niacin has the ability to cure pellagra, which can be a big issue for people eating untreated corn as a staple.
Vitamin B3 can be stored in the liver for not more than about two weeks.
Around 6,6 mg of vitamin B3 are necessary to receive 1000 kcal of energy.
Vitamin B3 can also be built with the help of the amino acid tryptophan, which is also a precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin and the hormone melatonin.
Fact: The word “niacin” comes from the composition of nicotinic acid + vitamin. The intention of this word creation was to separate it from nicotine, which is also found in tobacco and which is not a recommended source for nicotinic acid.
Vitamin B3, also called niacin, is an important essential vitamin for a proper function in the enzyme metabolism in providing us with high amounts of energy out of protein, fat and carbohydrates and it helps to regenerate body substances, such as skin, muscles, nerves and the DNA. Yeast and nuts are good sources for your daily amount of vitamin B3.
Now it is your turn? What do you think? What was interesting here for you? Let us know in the comments.