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Niacin Requirements and Dietary Sources

Vitamin Guide

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Updated February 04, 2014

Niacin, also called vitamin B-3, is a member of the water-soluble family of B-complex vitamins. It's required for normal digestive function, converting the food you eat to energy and for healthy skin and nerves.

Daily Requirements

Males

1 to 3 years: 6 milligrams per day
4 to 8 years: 8 milligrams per day
9 to 13 years: 12 milligrams per day
14+ years: 16 milligrams per day

Females

1 to 3 years: 6 milligrams per day
4 to 8 years: 8 milligrams per day
9 to 13 years: 12 milligrams per day
14 + years: 14 milligrams per day

Niacin is found in dairy products, poultry, fish, lean meats, nuts, legumes and eggs. Deficiency is rare, but can lead to pellagra, a disease of the skin and nervous system.

Niacin supplements have been recommended for reducing triglycerides and LDL cholesterol in the blood and to increase levels of HDL cholesterol.

Taking large amounts of supplemental niacin may result in liver damage. The Institute of Medicine established 35 milligrams per day as the upper tolerable intake level for adults. Taking large doses will also cause a niacin flush, and can increase glucose levels in diabetes. Large doses of niacin should only be used under the supervision of a physician.

Also Known As: Nicotinic acid, vitamin B-3

Sources:

Medline Plus. "Niacin." NIH. Updated 01/2007.

Otten JJ, Hellwig JP, Meyers LD. "Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements." IOM, 2006.

AHA. "Cholesterol Medications." Updated 08/2008.

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