Niacin (vitamin B3) is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for heart health, brain health and skin health. It is used to treat high cholesterol and triglyceride level, high blood pressure and depression.
Niacin is also known as nicotinic acid, nicotinamide and vitamin PP because it prevents the onset of pellagra, a condition that is caused by deficiency of niacin.
Vitamin B3 is not stored in the body, hence it is important to consume niacin-rich foods daily to prevent its deficiency.
Health Benefits of Niacin (Vitamin B3)
Below mentioned are some amazing health benefits of niacin:
Niacin Increases Good Cholesterol Level
Our body needs good HDL cholesterol to protect the heart and to reduce the risk of heart diseases. Scientific studies have found that treatment with niacin or vitamin B3 can raise the level of HDL cholesterol by 16 to 25%.
Furthermore, it lowers the level of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides, which are the major risk factors for heart diseases and stroke.
Niacin enhances the metabolism of fat and decreases its storage in the body. By doing so, more fat is used as a source of energy for the body. It inhibits the enzymes that promote the formation of triglycerides and cholesterol in the body.
Niacin decreases the clearance of apolipoprotein A-1, a protein that is associated with increased production of HDL cholesterol and decreased the production of LDL and VLDL cholesterol.
Niacin for a Healthy Skin
Niacin is an excellent skin-friendly vitamin. It boosts hydration levels in individuals with dry skin. This vitamin enhances water content in the skin and makes it soft, supple and lustrous.
It is an anti-aging vitamin that fights signs of aging such as wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots. Niacin further improves skin elasticity and helps in reducing redness of the skin and hyper-pigmentation.
It increases the production of keratin, a protein that protects the skin against damage and helps in retaining healthy skin.
Niacin possesses anti-inflammatory effects against acne and skin irritation by suppressing the formation of inflammatory compounds. Getting enough niacin from foods and supplements might help in improving overall skin appearance. (3, 4)
Anti-Depressant Role of Niacin
Niacin has an amazing ability to reduce anxiety and depression and it is a natural alternative to anti-depressants that have various side-effects.
Niacin increases the blood flow towards the brain, which can benefit individuals with depression. It further protects the brain cells and nerve cells against damage by toxic substances.
Besides this, niacin boosts the synthesis of serotonin, a brain chemical that improves mood and social behavior. Individuals with high levels of serotonin have a higher sense of well-being and happiness, whereas a low level of serotonin can lead to anxiety and depression.
Niacin further helps in limiting inflammation of brain cells by deactivating the action of inflammatory compounds. Thus, individuals with depression can benefit by increasing their intake of niacin-rich foods. (5)
Niacin Fights Cancer
Niacin reduces the progression of cancer and it may be helpful in fighting against the disease. It inhibits the formation of inflammatory substances that otherwise worsen the condition.
Niacin reduces oxidative stress and destabilizes free radicals, which is a major causative factor for cancer. It further plays an important role in DNA- damage repair and dramatically decreases the risk of cancer.
Scientific studies have found that niacin converts the food you eat into energy for the cells and the body. Thus, it can help individuals with cancer to stay energized and may further improve fatigue symptoms in them. (6, 7)
Role of Niacin in Alzheimer’s Disease
Research has found an inverse relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and intake of niacin-rich foods. It was further found that individuals with a low intake of niacin were at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, as compared to individuals with higher niacin intake.
It benefits the brain by improving memory and cognitive function. It further stimulates the brain and slows down mental decline.
Niacin protects the brain cells against damage and improves antioxidant function in the brain. Adequate intake of niacin improves blood flow towards the brain and thus, it boosts brain health.
Hence, niacin intake improves social behavior, reduces confusion and enhances the quality of life of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. (8)
Niacin Enhances Heart Health
Niacin is very famous for its use in the treatment of heart diseases. It plays a vital role in increasing HDL ‘good’ cholesterol, which is heart-protective. Niacin also reduces the risk of heart diseases by lowering the level of bad LDL cholesterol and VLDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which are the major risk factors for heart attack and strokes.
It suppresses the expression of inflammatory compounds that otherwise worsen heart health. Thus, it is essential to protect the heart by making foods rich in niacin a part of your daily diet. (9)
Other Health Benefits Of Niacin
Studies have found a few more health benefits of niacin, such as:
- Niacin reduces symptoms of arthritis
- It enhances absorption of carbohydrates, protein, and fat
- It improves symptoms of schizophrenia
- It widens the arteries and helps in reducing high blood pressure (Also Read: Ayurvedic Medicine for Hypertension)
- It enhances overall blood circulation
Note: Niacin has various side-effects on the body. Consult your doctor or health physician before starting with niacin supplements.