Importance of B3 vitamin for digestion, muscle development, sex and stress hormones

B3 helps breakdown carbs, fats and proteins
B3 helps breakdown carbs, fats and proteins

Niacin, or vitamin B3, is an important member of the B-complex of vitamins. As with the other B vitamins, niacin plays an important role in energy production through the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. B3 also promotes proper nervous, digestive, and muscle system functions. Niacin is also necessary for the formation of numerous sex and stress hormones as well as red blood cells.

More than other B-complex vitamins, niacin has been shown to have specific therapeutic effects with diseases such as elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, diabetes, atherosclerosis and arthritis. These conditions are treated with high levels of various forms of B3, including niacin, niacinamide, and inositol hexaniacinate. High levels of vitamin B3 can damage the liver and should be used under professional supervision.

Nicotinic acid lowers LDL or bad cholesterol, and raises HDL, or good cholesterol, and is nearly as effective as the commonly prescribed statin drugs in some studies, and is far less expensive. It can also reduce triglyceride levels. Since nicotinic acid opens blood vessels, high doses can cause flushing, itching and significant drops in blood pressure. Such side effects can lead to dizziness and headaches. Small doses of aspirin can reduce the flushing effects of niacin. Nicotinimide can be used to treat or prevent some forms of diabetes. People who consume more than two drinks per day, or have liver disease, should not take high dosages of vitamin B3. Niacin should not be taken with the antibiotic, tetracycline, because it can interfere with the absorption and effectiveness of this medication.

The body can convert the amino acid tryptophan into vitamin B3. Many high protein foods such as meat, chicken, fish, dairy products, sunflower seeds and legumes are rich in niacin.