Niacin is the common name for Vitamin B3, and is used by the body to help produce energy from the foods we eat. Niacin also helps maintain healthy nervous and digestive systems. The vitamin has been shown to lower cholesterol levels, and play a key role in supporting the genetic processes of the cells in the body.
The vitamin Niacin can be found in liver, red meat and a variety of fish including salmon and mackerel. Peas, peanuts and many types of beans are also good food sources of niacin.
The European Commission daily recommendation for Niacin is 18mg for both men and women. In the United States, the recommendations are a little higher at 20mg daily. The UK RDA for Niacin is 17mg for men and 13mg for women.
A dietary deficiency in Niacin or Vitamin B3 is rare in Western countries because of it's presence in everything from peanuts to red meat. Following a corn based diet, such as those favoured in China, Africa and India, increases the risk of developing a deficiency. Alcoholics and those with eating disorders can also develop a Vitamin B3 deficiency.
Symptoms of niacin deficiency include nausea, vomiting, forgetfulness, loss of appetite, skin lesions, headache, anemia and an overall feeling of fatigue. If left untreated, a niacin deficiency can lead to Pellagra and Oesophagitis.
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