Foods That Contain Vitamin B3The vitamin B3 we get from food includes preformed niacin and the amino acid tryptophan, which can be converted to niacin in the body. Food composition tables, however, list only preformed niacin. Niacin equivalent is the term used to refer to either 1 mg of niacin or to 60 mg of tryptophan (it takes 60 mg of tryptophan to make 1 mg of niacin).
Most proteins contain tryptophan. In the average protein-rich American diet, tryptophan provides about 60 percent of the niacin you need. If a diet is adequate in protein, then it will surely supply enough niacin equivalents from both sources to meet daily needs. The best sources of niacin are foods with a high protein content, such as meat, eggs, and peanuts. Other good sources of vitamin B3 equivalents, such as milk, actually provide more tryptophan than niacin. Mushrooms and greens are good vegetable sources. Vitamin B3 is also added to enriched breads and cereals to replace that lost during processing.
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Diets that are adequate in protein will most likely supply enough niacin
to satisfy your daily needs.
The RDA takes into account both preformed niacin and that available from tryptophan. Together they account for the recommendation of 6.6 mg of niacin for each 1,000 calories eaten. For women, this should total no less than 14 mg and for men 16 mg (niacin equivalents). Pregnant and lactating women require slightly more. Human milk contains about 7 niacin equivalents per 1,000 calories, which is enough for infants.
Use this chart to find foods that are rich in niacin:
|Food||Quantity ||Niacin (mg) |
|Peanut halves, roasted, salted||1 cup|| 20.6 |
|Product 19 cereal||1 ounce|| 20 |
|Tuna, canned, water drained||31/2 ounces|| 12.2 |
|Chicken, white meat, no skin||31/2 ounces|| 9.5 |
|Beef liver||3 ounces|| 9.1 |
|Turkey, all meat, no skin||31/2 ounces||7.3|
|Lamb chops, cooked||31/2 ounces|| 6.1 |
|Beef round, bottom, broiled||4 ounces|| 5.3 |
|Cheerios cereal||1 ounce|| 5 |
|Ground beef||3 ounces|| 5 |
A niacin deficiency brings on the disease pellagra, which causes weakness, loss of appetite, and rough, red skin. Go to the next page to learn more about the symptoms of a niacin deficiency.
Niacin isn't the only vitamin you need to maintain overall health. Visit these links to learn about other essentail nutrients you need to include in your diet.
- Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, can be found in all living cells and in all foods. Learn about its importance to your diet in How Vitamin B5 Works.
- Vitamin B6 is actually three substances, pyridoxine, pyridoxamine, and pyridoxal, that work to metabolize protein and amino acids. Read more in How Vitamin B6 Works.
- In How Biotin Works, learn how biotin acts as a coenzyme in several metabolic reactions, such as the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.
- Read How Folate Works to learn about folacin, folic acid, and folate and how a folate deficiency can cause megaloblastic anemia.
- Vitamin B12, also called cyanocobalamin or cobalamin, is essential because it assists folate in making DNA and RNA. Read more in How Vitamin B12 Works.
- To learn about the many vitamins in our diet, how much you should be eating, and where to find them, go to our general Vitamins page.
- To find the best prices on B vitamin supplements, click here.