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"My Mission is to bring affordable, ethical and effective healthcare, using the natural healing power of plants, to the children of the world, not just my children but all children, in my life time."

Diana Mossop

Vitamin B3

Introduction to Vitamin B3

The body uses the water-soluble vitamin B3 in the process of releasing energy from carbohydrates. It is needed to form fat from carbohydrates and to process alcohol. The niacin form of vitamin B3 also regulates cholesterol, though niacinamide does not.

Sources of Vitamin B3

The best food sources of vitamin B3 are peanuts, brewer’s yeast, fish, and meat. Some vitamin B3 is also found in whole grains.

Known Side Effect of Using Vitamin B3

Niacinamide is almost always safe to take, though rare liver problems have occurred at amounts in excess of 1,000 mg per day. Niacin, in amounts as low as 50–100 mg, may cause flushing, headache, and stomachache in some people. Doctors sometimes prescribe very high amounts of niacin (as much as 3,000 mg per day or more) for certain health problems. These large amounts can cause liver damage, diabetes, gastritis, damage to eyes, and elevated blood levels of uric acid (which can cause gout). Symptoms caused by niacin supplements, such as flushing, have been reduced with sustained-release (also called ‘time-release’) niacin products. However, sustained-release forms of niacin have caused significant liver toxicity and, rarely, liver failure. One partial time-release (intermediate-release) niacin product has demonstrated clinical efficacy without flushing, and also without the liver function abnormalities typically associated with sustained-release niacin formulations. However, this form of niacin is available by prescription only. In a controlled clinical trial, 1,000 mg or more per day of niacin raised blood levels of homocysteine, a substance associated with increased risk of heart disease. Since other actions of niacin lower heart disease risk, the importance of this finding is unclear. Nonetheless, for all of the reasons discussed above, large amounts of niacin should never be taken without consulting a doctor. The inositol hexaniacinate form of niacin has not been linked with the side effects associated with niacin supplementation. In a group of people being treated alternatively with niacin and inositol hexaniacinate for skin problems, niacin supplementation (50–100 mg per day) was associated with numerous side effects, including skin flushing, nausea, vomiting and agitation. In contrast, people taking inositol hexaniacinate experienced no complaints whatsoever, even at amounts two to five times higher than the previously used amounts of niacin. However, the amount of research studying the safety of inositol hexaniacinate remains quite limited. Therefore, people taking this supplement in large amounts (2,000 mg or more per day) should be under the care of a doctor. Vitamin B3 works with vitamin B1 and vitamin B2 to release energy from carbohydrates. Therefore, these vitamins are often taken together in a B-complex or multivitamin supplement (although most B3 research uses niacin or niacinamide alone). Certain medicines may interact with vitamin B3. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.

Diana Mossop was commissioned as an Officer in the WRAC in 1966 and served mostly in the Far East where by the age of just 24 she was promoted to Captain and was appointed as Commanding Officer of the WRAC in Hong Kong.