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Niacin—vitamin B3

Niacin, or vitamin B3, also known as nicotinic acid, is a member of the B-complex, the group of vitamins so important for countering the effects of stress. In its raw form it is a white, crystalline vitamin that dissolves readily in water. Niacin is essential for a healthy nervous system, healthy skin, production of sex hormones by the adrenal glands, and normal function of the stomach and intestinal tract.

Niacin is required by all living cells, and a deficiency affects every cell of the body. It is an important component of two coenzymes, niacinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and niacinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP). These coenzymes are responsible for metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins, releasing energy in tissues and cells.

The late stage of severe niacin deficiency is known as pellagra, a disease that causes weakness, fatigue, anorexia, indigestion, and skin lesions. The term pellagra comes from the Italian, meaning rough or raw skin. Symptoms include diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia and death—thus its mnemonic: "the disease of the four D's."

Niacin can be found in meats, poultry, wheat germ, red-fleshed fish (e.g., tuna and salmon), eggs, legumes, nuts, and brewer’s yeast.

Benefits of niacin

  • Used by the body to form coenzymes involved in metabolism of protein, fat, and carbohydrates
  • Required for formation of red blood cells
  • Required for production of hormones (sex steroids)
  • Assists in the production of hydrochloric acid for digestion in the stomach
  • May lower LDL cholesterol
  • Helps maintain normal blood pressure
  • Supports central nervous system function
  • Essential for the healthy skin and hair
  • Maintains normal digestion
  • May reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and age-related cognitive decline


RDI/AI – 16 mg per day
UL – 35 mg per day

How We Help

At DermaHarmony, our goals are to educate chronic skin care suffers about dermatology, share what contributes to health and wellness, and support our readers in any way we can. We manufacture and sell two soaps in our store that help with a variety of skin conditions. They're worth consideration if you have a condition that can be helped with pyrithione zinc, sulfur, or salicylic acid.

Principal Author: M. Ofiyeva
Date of Initial Publication: 07/05/2007
Article Last Updated: 03/10/2011