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How Vitamin B3 Works

Vitamin B3 Supplements

Do not take niacin supplements if you are not under the supervision of a health care professional.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Do not take niacin supplements if
you are not under the supervision
 of a health care professional.

Taking vitamin B3 for various conditions is a tricky business and should not be undertaken without the supervision of a health care professional. Used in large doses, such as those required to affect blood cholesterol levels, niacin is no longer working as a vitamin but as a drug, and significant side effects can occur.

Doses of 75 mg or more cause blood-vessel dilation, which can result in tingling, itching, and flushing of the face, neck, and chest -- a condition called niacin flush. It is uncomfortable but not dangerous. Starting with 50 to 75 mg three times per day and slowly increasing the amount can help minimize this problem. Also, many people find that by taking an 83 mg aspirin with the niacin, the flushing is greatly reduced. Aim to reach the full dose desired by six weeks; always take it with meals to avoid gastric irritation and nausea. If you want to find the
best prices on B vitamin supplements, click here.

Inositol hexaniacinate has very few side effects. People's blood cholesterol levels go down, HDL cholesterol levels go up, and there are no flushing symptoms or liver problems. Again, seek professional supervision and remember to start slowly. Take about 500 mg three times per day for two to three weeks, then increase to 1,000 mg three times per day. Take it with meals for best results.

Doses used for children who were starting to develop insulin-dependent diabetes ranged from 100 to 200 mg per day. Adult doses are based on weight: approximately 11.5 mg per pound of body weight.

Warning: People who have any type of liver disease, high levels of liver enzymes in their lab reports, gout, or peptic ulcers should not take niacin. When taking any type of vitamin B3 supplement discussed here, it is important to check liver function periodically. If you take more than 500 mg of niacin, or 3,000 mg or inositol hexaniacinate or niacinamide per day, your doctor should check your liver enzymes levels at least every three months.

As we've just learned, niacin is necessary to provide energy for the body and to ward off pellagra, and it's being used to treat ailments from diabetes to arthritis to migraines. However, too much vitamin B3 is not a good thing. Don't overdo it with your vitamin B3 intake, and this essential b-complex vitamin will help keep your body working properly.

Niacin is just one of the many vitamins your body needs to maintain overall health. Follow these links to learn more.
  • 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.
  • Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is good for more than just easing the common cold. Learn more in How Vitamin C 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.

Jennifer Brett, N.D. is director of the Acupuncture Institute for the University of Bridgeport, where she also serves on the faculty for the College of Naturopathic Medicine. A recognized leader in her field with an extensive background in treating a wide variety of disorders utilizing nutritional and botanical remedies, Dr. Brett has appeared on WABC TV (NYC) and on Good Morning America to discuss utilizing herbs for health.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.