Niacin Side Effects vs. Benefits

Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) is a water-soluble vitamin with lots of benefits. Some benefits are listed below.


Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for many areas of health, including brain function, heart health, and more. Although niacin has a lot of possible adverse effects, it’s one of the few micronutrients that doctors often use to treat health issues, including high cholesterol, skin disorders, schizophrenia, and more – using both supplementation and niacin meals.

So, what exactly is niacin, and how may it benefit your health? Please continue reading to learn all you need to know about this important vitamin and why it’s so important to obtain enough of it in your diet.

What Is Niacin and What Does It Do?

Vitamin B3, commonly known as niacin vitamin or niacinamide, is a water-soluble lipid-altering vitamin found in various foods such as various kinds of meats and organ meats, tuna fish, seeds, mushrooms, and more.

It, along with other B vitamins such as vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and others, make up the vitamin B complex. Niacin, often known as vitamin B3, is available in three forms: nicotinic acid, niacinamide, and inositol hexaniacinate. Niacin, a B3 vitamin, has been widely researched and has been proved to help with various common health issues.

So, what is niacin’s purpose, what does it accomplish in the body, and how does it affect your health? Vitamin B3 is essential for a healthy heart and metabolism, as well as helping to keep blood cholesterol levels in check. It also aids in brain function, skin health, and the prevention or treatment of diabetes.

Recent investigations have shown that consuming niacin-containing drugs or supplements in high amounts may cause several well-known niacin adverse effects. Headaches, dizziness, and low blood pressure are the most frequent niacin adverse effects. Continue reading for a detailed list of niacin applications, side effects, advantages, sources, and deficiency symptoms.

Health Advantages

While certain documented niacin side effects may be harmful, there are several advantages to eating a diet rich in vitamin B3 foods or contemplating supplementing. Niacin treatment may assist with the following issues.

1. Helps to Lower Cholesterol

Niacin is regarded as an essential therapy option for lowering cholesterol levels. This is because niacin has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease in individuals with mixed dyslipidemia, which is characterized by an increase in plasma cholesterol, triglycerides, or both.

Supplementing with niacin has been found in studies to be highly useful for people who have high levels of bad LDL cholesterol, low levels of healthy HDL cholesterol, or excessive triglyceride levels and are at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or other kinds of heart disease.

When administered in large amounts, niacin has been proven in many trials to enhance levels of excellent HDL cholesterol and reduce triglycerides just as effectively as some prescription medicines. In addition, niacin also aids in the reduction of harmful LDL cholesterol. Drugs like Crestor, Lescol, and Lipitor are often used in conjunction with statins for cholesterol management.

2. May Lower the Chances of Heart Disease

Vitamin B3 provides additional heart-health advantages besides balancing cholesterol and triglycerides, such as the capacity to decrease atherosclerosis, a harmful hardening of the arteries that may lead to coronary heart disease.

Vitamin B3 may help minimize the chance of recurrence in patients who have previously had a cardiac arrest or heart disease, such as a prior heart attack, by reducing blood levels of low-density lipoproteins, which is one of the key risk factors for heart disease. For example, when males with high lipoprotein(a) were given high-dose, extended-release niacin for 24 weeks, their lipoprotein(a) levels fell.

3. Keeps Blood Sugar Levels in Check

One of the most important properties of niacin is its potential to help reduce diabetic symptoms by balancing blood sugar levels. FOR EXAMPLE, Vitamin B3 in the form of niacinamide is thought to help diabetes by enhancing the activity of beta cells, which are the cells responsible for insulin synthesis.

Niacin may help diabetic patients regulate their blood sugar levels more efficiently but may also reduce their risk of high blood cholesterol and heart disease, both of which are frequent in persons with diabetes.

It’s worth noting that some studies show that niacin may have a role in difficulties associated with high blood sugar levels, so if you have a known issue involving high blood sugar, see your doctor before taking any kind of niacin to prevent undesired niacin side effects.

4. Improves the health of the skin

Some individuals use niacin or niacinamide to improve skin health and cure diseases including acne and inflammation. Vitamin B3 in the form of niacinamide is suggested as a natural acne therapy when applied topically, and some patients opt to take niacin or B vitamin complex supplements to alleviate symptoms.

Niacin is also used to treat skin disorders, including bullous pemphigoid and granuloma annular, since it may decrease skin inflammation, flare-ups, irritation, redness, and more. (nine, eleven) These are two inflammatory skin disorders that cause blistering and discomfort and an elevated risk of infection.

5. It aids with brain function

ACCORDING TO RESEARCH, Vitamin B3 promotes brain health and may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related brain illnesses associated with cognitive decline.

Niacin, commonly known as niacinamide, is a vitamin that is used to treat and prevent schizophrenia and hallucinations. Furthermore, in several studies and case reports, niacin has therapeutic benefits for depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental diseases.

6. Helps to maintain joint health

According to certain studies, vitamin B3 in the form of niacinamide may help increase joint mobility. In addition, according to research, increased niacin consumption has been linked to lower levels of joint discomfort and reduced inflammation in illnesses like osteoarthritis.

High dosages of niacinamide have been shown in trials to increase flexibility and decrease swelling, enabling many people who take niacinamide to minimize their use of analgesics and arthritis drugs.

Niacin is often administered in large dosages as a therapy for osteoarthritis or bone and joint pain for its anti-inflammatory properties. Reducing inflammation may aid in the relief of arthritic symptoms and the rebuilding of joint cartilage, which is essential for mobility and strength.

7. Helps with Pellagra

Pellagra is a disease caused by a vitamin B3 deficiency that is especially common in low-income regions and in people who have eating problems or are alcoholics. Symptoms of pellagra include muscular weakness, digestive difficulties, inflammation, and skin irritation.

Low levels of niacin and other B vitamins are common in people with pellagra, which may be caused by a lack of niacin or other underlying problems, including protein metabolism or amino acid absorption. When vitamin B3 levels aren’t recovered, people with pellagra may die from the shortage within a few years.

The most common therapy for pellagra is to provide large doses of nicotinamide, a kind of vitamin B3 that performs the same function as niacin but has somewhat different absorption and adverse effects.

8. Assists in the prevention of impotence

Erectile dysfunction, often known as impotence, is the inability of a man to maintain an erection. This may affect sexual enjoyment and is caused by low blood flow, poor circulation, and other variables such as stress, weariness, and sickness.

Because niacin works as a vasodilator and improves blood flow throughout the body, supplementing with vitamin B3 may help avoid erectile dysfunction. According to studies, 1,500 mg of niacin per day is adequate to enhance sexual function in impotent males.

9. It helps to prevent birth defects

Vitamin B3 has been proven to help with nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) deficiency prevention. Because NAD molecules are required for energy storage and DNA synthesis in cells, raising B3 levels in pregnant women may reduce the overall risk of birth defects.

According to a 2017 study, disrupting the production of NAD molecules may result in deformities in both humans and animals. Vitamin B3 supplementation during pregnancy, on the other hand, may assist mice in avoiding deformations.

Despite the study’s results, further human research is needed before physicians may give vitamin B3/niacin. More study is required, in particular, to understand how pregnancy affects NAD levels and to identify what a good amount is for a healthy pregnancy.

Traditional Medicine’s Uses for Vitamin B3

Foods high in niacin are often high in various other key nutrients, which is why they may be used in a variety of traditional medical treatments for their healing and health-promoting effects.

Animal proteins, such as meat, chicken, and fish, are popular ingredients in Traditional Chinese Medicine and are said to tonify the qi, or vital energy, which is necessary for supporting life and preserving mental and physical health. Fish is also known to aid with weariness, beef is thought to strengthen the spleen, and chicken is thought to maintain the kidneys in good working order.

There are many plant-based niacin items on an Ayurvedic diet to choose from. Sweet potatoes, for example, are filling, simple to digest, and good for your liver, whilst asparagus is known to alleviate inflammation, alkalize the body, and replenish the blood.

Side Effects, Interactions, and Concerns

So far, several research has looked at the effectiveness, safety, side effects, and pharmacologic characteristics of niacin. While additional study is required before definitive conclusions can be drawn, some preliminary studies suggest that niacin may be difficult to take for certain individuals, resulting in many negative niacin side effects.

Either evaluating the benefits of taking niacin against the risks of niacin side effects, researchers discovered that vitamin B3, when taken alone or in combination with other medications or supplements, has beneficial effects, particularly in terms of heart health. However, given the wide spectrum of potential niacin adverse effects, experts advise that supplementing be done only as advised and ideally under medical supervision for people with underlying health problems.

If you consume meals high in niacin, you’re unlikely to have any negative side effects. Taking large amounts of supplements, on the other hand, might result in a variety of side effects, including:

  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Rashes and skin responses
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Allergies: Because certain niacin supplements, particularly time-release niacin, include histamines, which are chemical components that may induce allergic symptoms, they can cause allergies.
  • Problems with the heart and irregular heartbeats
  • Rising blood sugar levels
  • Gallbladder function has deteriorated
  • Gout
  • Blood pressure that is too low
  • Ulcers in the stomach or intestines

Colestipol, laropiprant, lovastatin, simvastatin, and inositol hexanicotinate are some of the other drugs that are often used with niacin, contain niacin, or interact with niacin. If you’re taking any of these drugs and are experiencing any negative side effects or have any concerns, speak to your doctor about the optimal dose and treatment plan for you.

Symptoms and Causes of Deficiency

Niacin deficiency is uncommon in industrialized nations, where malnutrition is infrequent. Alcoholism, malnutrition, digestive issues, and chronic use of certain drugs that interfere with absorption are some of the most prevalent reasons for insufficiency.

The “4 D’s” are the clinical signs of a vitamin B3 deficiency: dermatitis (skin rashes), diarrhea, dementia, and death. The diagnosis is typically clinical, and high-dose niacin supplementation usually alleviates symptoms.

The following are some of the most prevalent indications and symptoms of niacin deficiency:

  • Skin inflammation, hallucinations, and stomach trouble are all symptoms of Pellagra. In addition, rashes, stomatitis, diarrhea, and mental difficulties are common among malnourished persons or those who are alcoholics.
  • Mouth, vaginal, and urethral mucous membrane swelling – symptoms that affect the mouth, vaginal, and urethral mucous membranes may cause mouth discomfort, increased salivation, tongue swelling, and ulcers.
  • Several sorts of lesions are among the skin’s symptoms.
  • Burning in the throat and esophagus, stomach pain, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are all indications of digestive disorders.
  • Some investigations have shown a relationship between niacin and depression, reduced awareness, cognitive decline, disorientation, confusion, mania, and paranoia.

The Top 15 Niacin-Rich Foods

Many foods are rich in niacin, making it practical and straightforward to achieve your daily requirements by eating a nutritious diet. Furthermore, by receiving the bulk of your niacin from food rather than pills, you can ensure that you’re getting plenty of the other vital nutrients your body needs.

Here are 15 of the best niacin-rich foods to include in your diet:

  1. 19.2 milligrams per cup of chicken (96 percent DV)
  2. 11.9 milligrams of liver per slice (60 percent DV)
  3. 3 ounces tuna: 11.3 milligrams (56 percent DV)
  4. 9.6 milligrams per cup of turkey (48 percent DV)
  5. 6.8 milligrams per 3 ounces of salmon (34 percent DV)
  6. 4.8 milligrams per can of sardines (24 percent DV)
  7. 3 ounces grass-fed beef: 4.4 milligrams (22 percent DV)
  8. 3.8 milligrams per cup of sunflower seeds (19 percent DV)
  9. 3.8 milligrams per ounce of peanuts (19 percent DV)
  10. 3.2 milligrams per cup of green peas (16 percent DV)
  11. 1 cup cooked brown rice: 3 milligrams (15 percent DV)
  12. 2.5 milligrams per cup of mushrooms (13 percent DV)
  13. 1 cup avocado, cubed: 2.6 milligrams (13 percent DV)
  14. 1 medium sweet potato has 1.7 milligrams (8 percent DV)
  15. 1.3 milligrams per cup of asparagus (7 percent DV)

Dosage and Supplements

The recommended daily requirement for vitamin B3 niacin, according to the USDA, is as follows:

  • Children: 2–16 mg per day, depending on their age.
  • 16 milligrams per day for men
  • 14 milligrams per day for women
  • 17–18 milligrams per day for pregnant and nursing women

Remember that the best niacin dose is determined by how you use it, as well as your age, weight, gender, and individual requirements. For example, large dosages of two to three grams or more of niacin are often prescribed for cholesterol control, but lesser levels are required for people merely trying to improve their health.

When taking niacin tablets or a niacin supplement, it’s normally best to take them with a meal to help slow down absorption and avoid niacin side effects, including stomach problems.

Some health care experts may prescribe taking niacin alongside aspirin or an antihistamine for a few weeks until your tolerance to niacin builds, depending on your requirements and purpose for utilizing it.

Remember that niacin is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that excessive amounts are eliminated in the urine. Because the body flushes off water-soluble vitamins like niacin and other B vitamins virtually daily, they must be replaced in the body quite regularly via diet or supplementation.

How to Take B Vitamins at the Same Time

Vitamin B3 may typically be acquired in sufficient levels from a balanced diet to satisfy your daily requirements for most individuals. However, if you’re looking for a fast and simple approach to increase your consumption, seek a high-quality supplement manufactured from whole food sources. Not only will your body be able to absorb and use these nutrients more effectively, but you’ll also be less likely to experience unpleasant vitamin B complex side effects.

Taking a B complex supplement is a wonderful way to ensure you’re getting all of the B vitamins your body needs. Because the B vitamins interact with one another to improve digestion and absorption, taking them all together in a high-quality B vitamin complex supplement helps them operate better in the body.

B vitamins may help boost metabolism and promote heart, brain, muscle, and joint health. Still, it’s always better to eat a variety of complete foods that naturally contain all of the vitamins and minerals you need. To ensure you receive your daily dose of B vitamins, consume high-quality cuts of meat, such as free-range and grass-fed chicken and cattle, fish, beans, nuts, and seeds. Unlike supplementation, consuming a variety of niacin-rich foods should not result in niacin levels that are high enough to induce serious niacin side effects.

Many additional drugs, such as Lovastatin and Simvastatin, are often taken in conjunction with prescription niacin to help lower cholesterol and improve heart health. If you’re taking these prescription medications, it’s crucial to work closely with your doctor to determine the best dose for you. This will help you avoid side effects and optimize your outcomes.

Niacin vs. Niacinamide vs. Nicotinamide

Niacin is available in three distinct forms:

  • Nicotinic acid is a kind of nicotinic acid
  • Nicotinamide/niacinamide
  • Hexaniacinate of inositol

Nicotinamide, also known as niacinamide, is a kind of vitamin B3 that may be obtained in both dietary and supplement sources. Nicotinamide is often favored over other supplementary forms of niacin because it causes less flushing and may be used to treat pellagra, acne, and arthritis. On the other hand, Nicotinamide is not as effective as niacin in lowering cholesterol and improving heart health.

B12 vs. Vitamin B3 vs. Other B Vitamins

Your body needs eight B vitamins, each playing a different function in your health. For example, vitamin B12 is essential in maintaining the health of the brain system, making red blood cells, and generating DNA. In contrast, vitamin B3 is well-known for its ability to cut cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and promote heart health. On the other hand, other B vitamins aid in energy generation, liver function, metabolism, growth and development, immunological health, and other functions.

All B vitamins are water-soluble, which means they dissolve in water and are delivered to the body’s tissues. They can’t be stored for extended periods, so you’ll need a continuous supply in your diet to guarantee you’re getting enough. They’re also common in related foods, including animal products, fortified meals, and some fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, they all operate together in the body to support good health, which is why taking a B complex rather than individual B vitamins is typically suggested.


The easiest method to increase your vitamin B3 consumption in your daily diet is to increase your intake of nutrient-rich foods that contain niacin and to make sure to include a couple of servings each day to assist meet your requirements. Protein-rich meals like meat, fish, and chicken, and nutrient-dense alternatives like brown rice, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, and more, are all good sources of niacin.


Hugo Weidel, an Austrian chemist, was the first to discover niacin in 1873, and it was subsequently extracted by Casamir Funk, a biochemist who is also credited with creating the notion of vitamins, or “vitamines,” based on the amine group he detected in niacin’s chemical structure.

Conrad Elvehjem reported in 1937 that after separating pellagra from the liver, niacin was able to treat it, emphasizing the role of nutrition in health and disease prevention. The vitamin was rapidly fortified into foods to avoid deficiency and pellagra in the general population. It was initially called “nicotinic acid,” but it was changed to prevent confusion and distinguish it from nicotine, one of the hazardous compounds contained in tobacco products.

By 1955, scientists had discovered a relationship between niacin and cholesterol, making it one of the earliest lipid-lowering medications on the market. It’s now extensively utilized as a natural treatment for many ailments, from high cholesterol to schizophrenia and arthritis.


Like other water-soluble vitamins, excess levels of niacin are eliminated in the urine, which helps avoid niacin toxicity or overdose. As a result, consuming a broad range of vitamin B3-rich foods is unlikely to produce negative side effects. Therefore, it is usually regarded as a safe and effective strategy to satisfy your vitamin B3 requirements.

High amounts of niacin in supplement form, on the other hand, might cause a variety of unpleasant side effects. One of the most prevalent adverse effects is niacin flush, which is characterized by skin redness, burning, and itching. Niacin supplementation’s other possible adverse effects include stomach discomfort, nausea, elevated blood sugar, liver damage, and gout.

As a result, it’s critical to follow the directions for taking niacin and check your doctor before supplementing if you have any underlying health concerns or are taking any other drugs. If you encounter any bad side effects, talk to your doctor about reducing your dose or stopping usage altogether.

Last Thoughts

  • What exactly is niacin? Niacin, often known as vitamin B3, is a water-soluble vitamin that has been widely researched for its potential to lower cholesterol, regulate metabolism, improve skin health, and improve cognitive function.
  • Niacin, which may be found in a range of foods and supplements and B vitamin complexes, is critical for many aspects of health.
  • Niacin has been shown to boost heart health, prevent impotence, reduce joint pain, maintain clean skin, manage blood sugar levels, promote cognitive function, cure pellagra, and prevent birth abnormalities in studies. But, unfortunately, it’s also linked to niacin’s negative effects.
  • Niacin flush, characterized by redness/burning of the skin, gastrointestinal difficulties, elevated blood sugar, skin problems, and more, is some of the most prevalent niacin adverse effects.
  • Niacin, along with several other B vitamins, should be part of a healthy, well-balanced diet to assist in improving your health and maintaining your body at its best.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need B3 niacin?

A: B3 niacin is essential for energy production in our cells.

What happens if you don’t have enough vitamin B3 niacin?

A: If you don’t get enough vitamin B3, your body can go into a state called niacin deficiency. This is when the body doesn’t produce enough NAD+, which affects the metabolism and breaks down carbohydrates. Symptoms include severe mood swings, depression, fatigue, weight loss without trying, or appetite changes.

What are the symptoms of vitamin B3 deficiency?

A: Vitamin B3 deficiency can cause various symptoms, but some common ones are hair loss, dry skin, and mouth sores.

Related Tags

  • vitamin b3 supplement
  • niacin benefits
  • niacin liver damage myth
  • the best time of day to take niacin
  • niacin flush benefits

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)