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Keeping Tabs on Niacin

Vitamin B3 is one of the vitamins that make up the nutritional powerhouse known as the Vitamin B complex. Vitamin B3 is also called niacin, nicotinic acid and niacinamide and serves many vital purposes in the proper functioning of the body and the mind.

Vitamin B3 works with the other B vitamins to convert food into energy. It also serves to regulate the appetite as well as the proper function of the digestive system. Its primary tasks within the digestive system relate to controlling the levels at which bile and other stomach fluids are secreted.

Among the other important contributions that Vitamin B3 makes to the good health of the body is the essential role that it plays in the respiration of the cells its role in keeping the nervous system healthy and its relationship to the production of the hormones associated with reproduction. Vitamin B3 is also important to the health of the body's biggest organ - the skin.

Vitamin B3 plays an important role in mental health and recent research has made some intriguing connections between the use of Vitamin B3 supplements and the production of serotonin. By using the supplements L-Tryptophan it doesn't have to be spent by the body in the making of niacin thus freeing the L-Tryptophan to be taken to the nervous system where it is processed into 5-http which leads to the production of serotonin which is highly important for mood regulation and feelings of well-being. Serotonin imbalance has been shown to be associated with anxiety and depression.

Vitamin B3 is a water-soluble vitamin which means that it is washed out of the body via the urine and the body must renew its supply of this vital nutrient daily. Deficiencies of vitamin B3 can have serious health consequences for both the body and the mind.

Symptoms of physical irregularities by someone who has niacin deficiency can include muscular weakness and a lack of muscular control particularly in the larger muscles masses such as those found in the legs. Other physical irregularity symptoms are open sores on the skin and in the mouth, a swollen tongue and chronic bad breathe, loss of appetite, chronic diarrhea, joint pain, low blood sugar and headaches. It can also cause the disease pellagra which presents with such symptoms as severe dermatitis, diarrhea and dementia. Symptoms of mental irregularities caused by a severe lack of niacin in the body include depression, fatigue and insomnia. The insomnia makes all of the other symptoms both physical and mental quite much harder to bear.

Dietary supplements are a safe and effective way to be sure that you meet the recommended daily requirements of B3 in your diet. However, it is important to use dietary supplements according to the standard dose levels as taking too much can cause other health problems some that are actually serious in nature. There are cases in which higher than standard doses may be recommended such as to combat symptoms that have been brought about by deficiencies. However, taking doses that are much higher than the standard levels should only be done when under the care and supervision of a qualified healthcare professional who can see to it that you are not causing yourself any harm. Dietary supplements like all other medications should always be kept out of the reach of children.

Note: This article may be freely reproduced as long as the AUTHOR'S resource box at the bottom of this article is included and and all links must be Active/Linkable with no syntax changes.

Charlene J. Nuble 2005. For up to date links and information about Vitamins, please go to: or for updated links and information on all health related topics, go to:


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