Book between plants with supplement capsules

Knowledge blog > Micronutrient dictionary

Vitamin B3 (niacin)

Table of Contents

What is vitamin b3?

Vitamin B3 is a water-soluble vitamin of the B vitamin group and is also called niacin or nicotinamide.

What are the functions of vitamin b3?

Vitamin B3 is another vitamin that is a building block for an important coenzyme. NAD+/NADH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is a similar cofactor to the aforementioned FAD, which contains riboflavin as a building block. NAD+ contains vitamin B3. Vitamin B3 therefore fulfills important functions in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism as well as in energy metabolism in general. Vitamin B3 is relevant in both fat burning and fatty acid synthesis. Niacin also has an antioxidant effect and is important for the regeneration of tissues such as the skin and nerves.

What makes vitamin b3 unique?

As a component of NADH, vitamin B3 is involved in many cell reactions. This cofactor is part of fat burning, fat synthesis, alcohol metabolism, carbohydrate breakdown, cholesterol synthesis, the reduction of oxidative stress, nucleotide production for DNA and so on and so forth. This gives NADH an almost monopolistic position in the cell.

How much vitamin b3 do you need per day?

The recommended niacin intake according to the German Nutrition Society (DGE) is as follows:

Age Niacin mg equivalents*/day male Niacin mg equivalents*/day female
0 to under 4 months 2 2
4 to under 12 months 5 5
Children and teenagers    
1 to under 4 years 8 8
4 to under 7 years 9 9
7 to under 10 years 11 10
10 to under 13 years 13 11
13 to under 15 years 15 13
15 to under 19 years 17 13
19 to under 25 years 16 13
25 to under 51 years 15 12
51 to under 65 years 15 11
65 years and older 14 11
Pregnant women    
2nd trimester 14
3rd trimester 16
Breastfeeding   16

* 1 mg niacin equivalents = 1 mg niacin = 60 mg tryptophan (The body can produce niacin from the amino acid tryptophan itself.
niacin from the amino acid tryptophan)

When do you need vitamin b3 most?

If you have skin problems, vitamin B3 can support regeneration. In this case, it makes sense to pay attention to the niacin supply. This vitamin is also particularly important when energy requirements are high so that the cells do not run out of energy and have to fall back on emergency reserves during this time

How does an vitamin b3 deficiency develop and how does it manifest itself?

Nutritional niacin deficiency occurs primarily in countries where people mainly eat maize. This is because the vitamin B3 it contains is bound and therefore cannot be utilized as well. In this country, it is mostly illnesses such as chronic diarrhea, liver cirrhosis or alcoholism that lead to a deficiency. This is manifested, for example, by digestive disorders and a feeling of physical weakness. An extreme deficiency can cause the disease pellagra: Symptoms include dementia, diarrhea and skin changes. If left untreated, this nutritional disorder leads to death.

What happens if there is an overdose of vitamin b3?

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) points out that a sufficient supply of niacin is ensured by the usual diet in Germany. An overdose is usually caused by taking certain food supplements or medication. Doses above 30 mg can cause symptoms such as reddening of the skin, a feeling of heat, hives and itching due to the vasodilating effect.

Which foods are particularly high in vitamin b3?

Fish and meat as well as dairy products and eggs contain a lot of niacin. But nuts, mushrooms, yeast and pulses also contain a good portion of niacin.

Further blog articles on the topic

What vitamins are there and what do they do in your body?
Vitamins are vital substances for your body. You need them to maintain all your bodily functions; without them, your body would not be able to perform or survive. In this article, we will start by introducing you to these vital substances and going into more detail about the functions of the vitamins. We even need two parts for 13 vitamins. Here in Part 1 you will find everything about the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and vitamin K2.
Read article
What are the functions of water-soluble vitamins?
Having already dealt with the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K2 in Part 1, the water-soluble vitamins, which are in no way inferior to the fat-soluble vitamins, are still missing. What functions do B vitamins and of course the well-known vitamin C have? Find out more in part 2 on vitamins.
Read article
Why are vitamins & co. so important for athletes?
How much importance should be attached to special nutrition for athletes? Why do athletes need more nutrients? Here you can find out more about the macro and micronutrients you need as an endurance or strength athlete.
Read article
Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
What is vitamin b1, what function und effect does it have on your well-being?
Read article
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
What is vitamin B2, what function and effect does it have on your well-being?
Read article
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
What is vitamin B5, what function and effect does it have on your well-being?
Read article
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
What is vitamin B6, what function and effect does it have on your well-being?
Read article
Vitamin B7 (biotin)
What is vitamin B7, what function and effect does it have on your well-being?
Read article

This dictionary entry is based on carefully researched sources:

Bibliography & Sources