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Niacin

Niacin

Description

Niacin, also known as Vitamin B3, is important for the normal function of many bodily processes. Like other B vitamins, it is water-soluble and plays a role in turning food into energy, as well as in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. Niacin can also act as an antioxidant within cells, which means it can destroy cell-dam-aging free radicals. In conjunction with riboflavin and pyridoxine , it helps to keep the skin, intestinal tract and nervous system functioning smoothly.

General use

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of niacin for infants under six months is 5 mg. Babies from six months to one year of age require 6 mg. Children need 9 mg at one to three years of age, 12 mg at four to six years, and 13 mg at seven to 10 years. Women need 15 mg from 11-50 years, and 13 mg thereafter. Somewhat more is required for pregnancy (17 mg) and lactation (20 mg). Men require 17 mg from 11-14 years of age, 20 mg from 15-18 years, 19 mg from 19-50 years, and 15 mg at 51 years and older.

Niacin in the form of nicotinic acid can be taken in very large doses to decrease blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart attack . Niacin is an important part of the treatment of familial hyperlipidemia, an inherited disorder characterized by high blood cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart disorders. The amount of niacin required is between 2 and 3 g per day. Although treatment with niacin is considered the best strategy for normalizing blood cholesterol levels as of 2002, it should not be undertaken without professional medical advice and supervision. Niacin has been singled out as a dietary supplement for which people frequently exceed the upper limits of safe intake. One Canadian study found that 47% of adults who were taking dietary supplements were taking niacin above recommended levels.

Certain conditions preclude the use of high doses of niacin. These disorders include gout , diabetes, peptic ulcer, liver or kidney disease, and high blood pressure requiring medication. Even in the absence of these conditions, a patient on high doses of niacin should be closely monitored to be sure the therapy is both effective and without complications. A frequent side effect of this therapy is extreme flushing of the face and neck. It is harmless, but can be unpleasant. An alternative form of nicotinic acid that does not cause flushing is inositol hexaniacinate. "Slow release" niacin also causes less flushing, but should not be taken as there is higher risk of liver inflammation.

There is some evidence that niacinamide used on a long-term basis can prevent the onset of juvenile diabetes in many susceptible children. Those who have been newly diagnosed with juvenile diabetes may also benefit by extending the time that the pancreas continues to produce a small amount of insulin. The advice of a health care provider should be sought for these uses.

Inositol hexaniacinate can be helpful for people suffering from intermittent claudication. This condition causes leg pain with exercise due to poor blood flow to the legs. Dilation of the blood vessels caused by the inositol hexaniacinate relieves this condition to some extent, allowing the patient to walk farther with less pain.

Other conditions that may be benefited by supplemental niacinamide include vertigo, tinnitus, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) headaches, and osteoarthritis . Raynaud's phenomenon reportedly may be improved by large doses of inositol hexaniacinate. A health care provider should be consulted for these uses. Niacin is not effective for the treatment of schizophrenia .

Preparations

Natural sources

Tuna is one of the best sources of niacin, but many other foods contain the vitamin. Most processed grain products are fortified with niacin, as well as other B vitamins. Although niacin is not destroyed by cooking, it does leach into water, so cooking with minimal liquid best preserves it. The amino acid tryptophan is widely found in foods high in protein, and about half of the tryptophan consumed is used to make niacin. Cottage cheese, milk, fowl, and tuna are some of the foods that are highest in tryptophan.

Supplemental sources

Niacin can be purchased as an oral single vitamin product. A balanced B complex supplement is preferred over high doses of an individual vitamin unless there is a specific indication. Supplements should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from light, and out of the reach of children.

Deficiency

A serious deficiency of niacin causes a condition called pellagra. Once quite common in all countries, it has become rare outside of areas in which poor nutrition is still the norm. Affected groups include refugees displaced by war as well as populations affected by such emergency situations as famine. The symptoms of pellagra include dermatitis, dementia , and diarrhea .

Milder deficiencies of niacin can cause similar, but less severe symptoms. Dermatitis, especially around the mouth, and other rashes may occur, along with fatigue , irritability, poor appetite, indigestion , diarrhea, headache , and possibly delirium.

Risk factors for deficiency

Severe niacin deficiency is uncommon in most parts of the world, but some people may need more than the RDA in order to maintain good health. Vegans, and others who do not eat animal protein, should consider taking a balanced B vitamin supplement. Others that may need extra niacin and other B vitamins may include people under high stress , including those experiencing chronic illnesses, liver disease, sprue, or poor nutritional status. People over 55 years old are more likely to have a poor dietary intake. Certain metabolic diseases also increase the requirement for niacin. Those who abuse nicotine, alcohol or other drugs are very frequently deficient in B vitamins, but use of niacin with alcohol can cause seriously low blood pressure. A health care professional can determine if supplementation is appropriate.

Precautions

Niacin should not be taken by anyone with a B vitamin allergy, kidney or liver impairment, severe hypotension, un-stable angina , arterial hemorrhage, or coronary artery disease. Supplemental niacin can exacerbate peptic ulcers. Diabetics should use caution as supplements of either niacin or niacinamide can alter medication requirements to control blood glucose. Supplements can raise uric acid levels, and aggravate gout in people with this condition. Pregnant women should not take high doses of niacin, or any supplement, except on the advice of a health care provider.

Health care should be sought immediately if certain symptoms occur following niacin supplementation. These include abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting , yellowing of the skin, faintness, or headache. Such symptoms may indicate excessively low blood pressure or liver problems. Heart palpitations and elevated blood sugar are also potential effects.

Side effects

High doses of niacin can cause a harmless but un-pleasant flushing sensation as well as darkening of the urine. The "no-flush" form can lessen this complication.

Interactions

Niacin supplements should not be taken by anyone on medication for high blood pressure, due to the potential for hypotension. Isoniazid, a drug used to treat tuberculosis , inhibits the body's ability to make niacin from tryptophan. Extra niacin may be required. Supplements may also be needed by women taking oral contraceptives. Concomitant use of niacin with statin class drugs to lower cholesterol can cause myopathy. Cholestyramine and cholestipol, older medications to lower cholesterol, should be taken at a different time than niacin or they will reduce its absorption. Transdermal nicotine used with niacin is likely to cause flushing and dizziness . Carbamazepine, an antiseizure medication, is more likely to cause toxicity in combination with niacin.

Resources

BOOKS

Bratman, Steven, and David Kroll. Natural Health Bible. Prima Publishing, 1999.

Griffith, H. Winter. Vitamins, Herbs, Minerals & supplements: the complete guide. Arizona: Fisher Books, 1998.

Jellin, Jeff, Forrest Batz, and Kathy Hitchens. Pharmacist's letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. California: Therapeutic Research Faculty, 1999.

Pressman, Alan H., and Sheila Buff. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. New York: alpha books, 1997.

PERIODICALS

Batiste, M. C., and E. J. Schaefer. "Diagnosis and Management of Lipoprotein Abnormalities." Nutrition in Clinical Care: An Official Publication of Tufts University 5 (May-June 2002): 115-123.

Gotto, A. M. Jr. "Management of Dyslipidemia." American Journal of Medicine 112 (June 3, 2002) (Supplement 8A): 10S-18S.

Hopkins, P. M. "Familial Hypercholesterolemia." Curren Treatment OPtions in Cardiovascular Medicine 4 (April 2002): 121-128.

Prinzo, Z. W., Z. W. Prinzo, and D. Benoist. "Meeting the Challenges of Micronutrient Deficiencies in Emergency-Affected Populations." Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 61 (May 2002): 251-257.

Troppmann, L., K. Gray-Donald, and T. Johns. "Supplement Use: Is There Any Nutritional benefit?" Journal of the American Dietetic Association 102 (June 2002): 818-825.

ORGANIZATIONS

American Dietetic Association. 216 West Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60606. (312) 899-0040. <www.eatright.org>.

World Health Organization (WHO). Avenue Appia 20, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland. (+41 22) 791-2111. <www.who.int>.

Judith Turner

Rebecca J. Frey, PhD

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Niacin

Niacin

Jazz group

Jazz fusion supergroup Niacin, composed of star rock bassist Billy Sheehan, keyboard guru John Novello, and funk rock drummer Dennis Chambers, has both returned fusion to its roots with the resurrection of the venerable Hammond B-3 organ and given it a shot in the arm with an injection of hard rock sensibility. Formed in the mid-1990s, the group has continued to produce albums and tour into the 2000s, racking up accolades along the way–even as its members nurture solo careers and contribute to other bands.

Niacin was formed in the middle of the 1990s when rock bassist Billy Sheehan teamed up with keyboard player John Novello to create a vehicle for their work in jazz fusion and progressive rock. The duo brought in drummer Dennis Chambers to complete the trio. All three musicians were well established in rock and jazz circles at the time of the group's formation, crossing easily between the two musical styles. The centerpiece of the band is the Hammond B-3 organ, an instrument that has graced many a jazz and progressive rock recording and, until the late 1970s, was almost as essential to rock and jazz as the guitar or drum. The instrument also lent the group its name; niacin is also known as vitamin B3.

The man behind the Hammond B-3, John Novello, cites as his major influences rock greats such as Deep Purple, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Led Zeppelin. Asked to sum up his band's sound in a sentence, he told the Boston Globe's Steve Greenlee that Niacin is "sort of a progressive retro fusion band" and that it was "guaranteed not to play elevator music." By all accounts, the group has more than succeeded: critics have raved about the group's high energy sound, unusual for a trio. Music critic Jeff Miers, for instance, wrote in the Buffalo News that the group is "blazing, passionate, virtuosic and groovy as all get out."

True to form, Niacin's concerts are typically a workout for the musicians. "When we get on stage," Novello told the Boston Globe's Greenlee, "we just let loose." In fact, some have mistaken the trio for a quartet; Novello doubles on guitar synthesizers, prompting at least one record executive to ask the band members for the name of their guitar player.

Niacin signed with famed jazz man Chick Corea's Stretch label to release its eponymous debut in 1997. The group followed up the next year with High Bias, which features a composition by Corea called "Hang Me Upside Down." Corea also plays keyboard on the track. The rest of the album, with the exception of a cover of Joe Zawinul's "Birdland," was composed by Novello and Sheehan. Critics lauded High Bias's cohesion, with Mike Joyce of the Washington Post singling out Dennis Chambers's "sleight of hand finesse." Following the release of High Bias, the group launched a world tour to promote the album, with dates throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan.

Also in 1998 came a live album called Live!: Blood, Sweat and Beers. This album was particularly well regarded by music critics like Ken Hughes of Keyboard magazine, who raved about the band's crowd-energizing performances and called Chambers the "most exciting drummer on the planet."

Moving from the Stretch to the Magna Carta label, the group put out Deep in 2000. Glenn Hughes of rock group Deep Purple contributed vocals to this release, making it the first Niacin album to feature a vocalist. Guitarist Steve Lukather of the rock group Toto was also a guest on the album.

The group's next effort was Time Crunch. Released in 2001, the album features nine original compositions along with a pair of covers: "Red" by King Crimson, and "Blue Wind" by Jeff Beck.

A native of Buffalo, New York, Billy Sheehan has established a reputation as one of the strongest bass players in jazz and rock music. He began his career in the 1970s with the highly regarded Buffalo-based rock band Talas. That group became the first band to be inducted into Buffalo's Music Hall of Fame.

Sheehan first gained widespread renown as a bassist for star rocker David Lee Roth. Roth lured him away from Talas to join the David Lee Roth Band when Roth left Van Halen in 1985. Sheehan stayed with Roth through two platinum albums before leaving to found Mr. Big in 1989. Mr. Big scored a number one hit with "To Be with You," a single from their second album, Lean into It, released in 1991.

Five times voted "Best Rock Bass Player" by the readers of Guitar Player magazine, Sheehan has consistently broken new ground in his music, a trend he has continued with Niacin. Sheehan released his first solo album, Compression on the Favored Nations label in 2001.

John Novello is author of The Contemporary Keyboardist: Stylistic Etudes, named by Sheet Music magazine the "Bible" of contemporary keyboard playing. He grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, and studied jazz and big band music at the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston in the late 1970s

It was while at Berklee that Novello fell in love with the Hammond B-3 organ, and he played it at Boston area clubs while he was still in school. But, Novello later told Billboard 's Steve Graybow, "In 1978, the disco era started, and live music became at thing of the past. Next the DX7 came out, and no one wanted my big Jurassic monster dragged into their clubs." After graduating from school, Novello relocated to California, where he found work as a session player. His biggest claim to fame at that time was as the music director for the disco band A Taste of Honey, which found a hit in the song "Boogie Oogie Oogie."

Novello went on to become a celebrated a jazz and contemporary keyboard instructor, and established a reputation as a powerhouse composer, arranger, producer, and session player, laying down tracks for artists such as Chick Corea, rocker Edgar Winter, and pop star Donna Summer. Through it all, he never lost his appreciation for the distinctive sound of the Hammond B-3. And with Niacin, he finally got his chance to once again make the instrument sing. Along with his work for Niacin, he heads the John Novello Band, a jazz and blues group.

Self-schooled drummer Dennis Chambers has not been far from a drum kit from the time he could hold a pair of sticks. Straight out of high school in 1978, he joined George Clinton's legendary funk band Parliament/Funkadelic. He cut loose from Parliament/Funkadelic in 1985, and has played with numerous other acts since then, including Special EFX, the David Sanborn Band, Bill Evans, and many others. His fist solo recording, Getting Even, was released by Pioneer Records in 1998. Outbreak came next, in 2002, quickly followed by Front Page in 2003.

Each of Niacin's members continues to pursue solo efforts and to play in other bands in addition to his work with Niacin. But the fusion band remains the place for them to, as they put it on Niacin's website, feel "free to play and jam as we please, reach for new heights, and go musically where others wouldn't dare."

For the Record …

Members include Dennis Chambers , drums; John Novello , keyboards; Billy Sheehan , bass.

Group formed in the mid 1990s; signed with Stretch record label, released Niacin, 1997; released High Bias and Live!: Blood, Sweat and Beers, 1998; moved to Magna Carta label, released Deep, 2000; released Time Crunch, 2001.

Addresses: Record company—Magna Carta Records, 280 E. 51st St., PMB#1820, New York, NY 10022-6500. Website—Niacin Official Website: http://www.niacinb3.com.

Selected discography

Niacin, Stretch, 1997.

High Bias, Warp, 1998.

Live!: Blood, Sweat and Beers, 1998; rereleased, Magna Carta, 2000.

Deep, Magna Carta, 2000.

Time Crunch, Video, 2001.

Sources

Periodicals

Bangkok Post, January 9, 1998, p.1.

Billboard, August 29, 1998.

Boston Globe, November 22, 2002, p. C15.

Buffalo News, November 15, 2002, p. G34; March 2000, p. G16.

Keyboard, August 2003, p. 8.

Washington Post, August 7, 1998, p. N14.

Online

Dennis Chambers Official Website, http://www.dennischambers.com (August 26, 2004).

John Novello Official Website, http://www.keysnovello.com

(August 26, 2004). "Niacin," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (August 26, 2004).

Niacin Official Website, http://www.niacinb3.com (August 26, 2004).

—Michael Belfiore

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Niacin

Niacin

Niacin, or nicotinic acid, is a member of the water-soluble vitamin B family. For the most part, niacin functions as part of two important coenzymes. Both enzymes play vital roles in a number of metabolic pathways, in particular, those pathways concerned with cellular respiration (the process by which tissue cells "burn" carbohydrates and proteins in order to release energy) and, to a lesser extent, those pathways involved in the synthesis (blending) of fatty acids and steroids.

Pellagra

A deficiency of niacin causes pellagra, a serious disease which has plagued mankind for centuries. In most cases pellagra strikes people whose diet consists mainly of corn and cornmeal. Until fairly recently, pellagra was a major health problem in the United States. In the 1920s the disease killed thousands of people in poor rural areas. At that time, pellagra patients filled both hospitals and, because mental confusion was one of its symptoms, mental institutions as well.

Although no one knew the exact cause of the disease, by the beginning of the twentieth century more and more researchers began to suspect that a dietary deficiency was responsible. The search for an "anti-pellagra factor" intensified in both Europe and the United States. In 1912, Casimir Funk (1884-1967), the Polish-born biochemist who coined the term vitamin, managed to isolate the right factornicotinic acidfrom rice polishings. Unfortunately, at the time Funk was actually hunting for a substance that would cure beriberi, another serious deficiency disorder. When he found that nicotinic acid had only a minimal effect on beriberi, Funk pushed the compound aside. In the years that followed, the compound was largely ignored.

Niacin and Vitamins

In the 1930s, a number of researchersamong them Hans Euler-Chelpin, Otto Warburg, and Arthur Hardenbegan reporting that nicotinic acid appeared to be part of quite a few vital coenzymes. Perhaps, the researchers suggested, the compound was a lot more important than was originally supposed.

Niacin wasn't fully established as a vitamin until 1937. It was then that a team of researchers headed by American biochemist named Conrad Arnold Elvehjem (1901-1962) administered 30 miligrams of nicotinic acid to a dog suffering from blacktongue (the canine equivalent of pellagra). The dog improved immediately and, with further doses, was soon completely cured.

Other biochemical researchers quickly confirmed that niacin was the anti-pellagra vitamin for humans. They also confirmed that adding foods high in niacin to the diet, such as meat, green vegetables, yeast, and most grains, dramatically cured the disease. Moreover, since tryptophan is converted by the body into niacin, adding milk and other tryptophan-rich foods to the diet worked equally well.

Very quickly, pellagra cases began declining. In 1941 breads and cereals routinely began to be fortified with the vitamin. It was then that pellagra ceased to be a problem in the United States. The disease does crop up occasionally in other parts of the world, usually where poor diet is a problem.

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niacin

niacin A vitamin; one of the B complex without a numerical designation. It is sometimes (incorrectly) referred to as vitamin B3, and formerly vitamin PP (pellagra preventative). Deficiency leads to pellagra, which is fatal if untreated. Niacin is the generic descriptor for two compounds that have the biological activity of the vitamin: nicotinic acid and its amide, nicotinamide. In USA niacin is used specifically to mean nicotinic acid, and niacinamide for nicotinamide.

The metabolic function of niacin is in the coenzymes NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and NADP (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate), which act as intermediate hydrogen carriers in a wide variety of oxidation and reduction reactions.

Niacin can also be formed in the body from the amino acid tryptophan; on average 60 mg of dietary tryptophan is equivalent to 1 mg of preformed niacin. The total niacin content of foods is generally expressed as mg niacin equivalents; the sum of preformed niacin plus one‐sixtieth of the tryptophan. This means that most foods that are good sources of protein are also good sources of niacin. In cereals niacin is largely present as niacytin, which is not biologically available; therefore the preformed niacin content of cereals is generally ignored when calculating intakes. Free niacin is added to white flour and enriched breakfast cereals in many countries.

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niacin

ni·a·cin / ˈnīəsin/ • n. another term for nicotinic acid.

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niacin

niacin (ny-ă-sin) n. see nicotinic acid.

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niacin

niacin: see coenzyme; vitamin.

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niacin

niacin See nicotinic acid.

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niacin

niacin See NICOTINIC ACID.

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niacin

niacin •assassin • Yeltsin • sasine •Solzhenitsyn • rebbetzin •biomedicine, medicine •ceresin •ricin, Terramycin •tocsin, toxin •Wisconsin • oxytocin • niacin •moccasin • characin • Capuchin •Latin, satin •plantain • captain •marten, martin •cretin •pecten, pectin •Quentin •clandestine, destine, intestine •sit-in • quintain • bulletin • chitin •Austen, Mostyn •fountain, mountain •gluten, highfalutin, RasputinDustin, Justin •biotin • legatine • gelatin • keratin •certain, Curtin •Kirsten • Gethin • lecithin • Bleddyn •Gavin, ravin, ravine, savin, spavin •Alvin, Calvin •Marvin •Bevin, Kevin, levin, Previn, replevin •kelvin, Melvin •riboflavin • covin • Mervyn

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Niacin

Niacin

Description

Niacin, also known as Vitamin B3, is important for the normal function of many bodily processes. Like other B vitamins, it is water-soluble and plays a role in turning food into energy, as well as in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. Niacin can also act as an antioxidant within cells, which means it can destroy cell-damaging free radicals. In conjunction with riboflavin and pyridoxine, it helps to keep the skin, intestinal tract and nervous system functioning smoothly.

General use

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of niacin for infants under six months is 5 mg. Babies from six months to one year of age require 6 mg. Children need 9 mg at one to three years of age, 12 mg at four to six years, and 13 mg at seven to 10 years. Women need 15 mg at 11-50 years, and 13 mg thereafter. Somewhat more is required for pregnancy (17 mg) and lactation (20 mg). Men require 17 mg at 11-14 years of age, 20 mg at 15-18 years, 19 mg from 19-50 years, and 15 mg at 51 years and older.

Niacin, in the form of nicotinic acid, can be taken in very large doses to decrease cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack. The amount required is between 2 and 3 g. This is not a therapy that should be undertaken without professional medical advice and supervision. Certain conditions preclude the use of high doses of niacin. These include gout, diabetes, peptic ulcer, liver or kidney disease, and high blood pressure requiring medication. Even in the absence of these conditions, a patient on high doses of niacin should be closely monitored to be sure the therapy is both effective and without complications. A frequent side effect of this therapy is extreme flushing of the face and neck. It is harmless, but can be unpleasant. An alternative form of nicotinic acid that does not cause flushing is inositol hexaniacinate. "Slow release" niacin also causes less flushing, but should not be taken as there is higher risk of liver inflammation.

There is some evidence that niacinamide used on a long-term basis can prevent the onset of juvenile diabetes in many susceptible children. Those who have been newly diagnosed with juvenile diabetes may also benefit by extending the time that the pancreas continues to produce a small amount of insulin. The advice of a health care provider should be sought for these uses.

Inositol hexaniacinate can be helpful for people suffering from intermittent claudication. This condition causes leg pain with exercise due to poor blood flow to the legs. Dilation of the blood vessels caused by the inositol hexaniacinate relieves this condition to some extent, allowing the patient to walk farther with less pain.

Other conditions that may be benefited by supplemental niacinamide include vertigo, tinnitus, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) headaches, and osteoarthritis. Raynaud's phenomenon reportedly may be improved by large doses of inositol hexaniacinate. A health care provider should be consulted for these uses. Niacin is not effective for the treatment of schizophrenia.

Preparations

Natural sources

Tuna is one of the best sources of niacin, but many foods contain it. Most processed grain products are fortified with niacin, as well as other B vitamins. Although niacin is not destroyed by cooking, it does leach into water, so cooking with minimal liquid best preserves it. The amino acid tryptophan is widely found in foods high in protein, and about half of the tryptophan consumed is used to make niacin. Cottage cheese, milk, fowl, and tuna are some of the foods that are highest in tryptophan.

Supplemental sources

Niacin can be purchased as an oral single vitamin product. A balanced B complex supplement is preferred over high doses of an individual vitamin unless there is a specific indication. Supplements should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from light, and out of the reach of children.

Deficiency

A serious deficiency of niacin causes a condition called pellagra. Once quite common, it has become rare outside of areas where poor nutrition is still the norm. The symptoms include dermatitis, dementia, and diarrhea.

Milder deficiencies of niacin can cause similar, but less severe symptoms. Dermatitis, especially around the mouth, and other rashes may occur, along with fatigue, irritability, poor appetite, indigestion, diarrhea, headache, and possibly delirium.

Risk factors for deficiency

Severe niacin deficiency is uncommon in most parts of the world, but some people may need more than the RDA in order to maintain good health. Vegans, and others who do not eat animal protein, should consider taking a balanced B vitamin supplement. Others that may need extra niacin and other B vitamins may include people under high stress, including those experiencing chronic illnesses, liver disease, sprue, or poor nutritional status. People over 55 years old are more likely to have a poor dietary intake. Certain metabolic diseases also increase the requirement for niacin. Those who abuse nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs are very frequently deficient in B vitamins, but use of niacin with alcohol can cause seriously low blood pressure. A health care professional can determine if supplementation is appropriate.

Precautions

Niacin should not be taken by anyone with a B vitamin allergy, kidney or liver impairment, severe hypotension, unstable angina, arterial hemorrhage, or coronary artery disease. Supplemental niacin can exacerbate peptic ulcers. Diabetics should use caution as supplements of either niacin or niacinamide can alter medication requirements to control blood glucose. Supplements can raise uric acid levels and aggravate gout in people with this condition. Pregnant women should not take high doses of niacin, or any supplement, except on the advice of a health care provider.

Health care should be sought immediately if certain symptoms occur following niacin supplementation. These include abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, yellowing of the skin, faintness, or headache. Such symptoms may indicate excessively low blood pressure or liver problems. Heart palpitations and elevated blood sugar are also potential effects.

Side effects

High doses of niacin can cause a harmless, but unpleasant, flushing sensation and darkening of the urine. The "no-flush" form can lessen this complication.

Interactions

Niacin supplements should not be taken by anyone on medication for high blood pressure, due to the potential for hypotension. Isoniazid, a drug used to treat tuberculosis, inhibits the body's ability to make niacin from tryptophan. Extra niacin may be required. Supplements may also be needed by women taking oral contraceptives. Concomitant use of niacin with statin class drugs to lower cholesterol can cause myopathy. Cholestyramine and cholestipol, older medications to lower cholesterol, should be taken at a different time than niacin or they will reduce its absorption. Transdermal nicotine used with niacin is likely to cause flushing and dizziness. Carbamazepine, an antiseizure medication, is more likely to cause toxicity in combination with niacin.

KEY TERMS

Antioxidant— Any one of a group of substances that function to destroy cell-damaging free radicals in the body.

Gout— A painful condition of joints, especially the feet and hands, caused by the presence of uric acid crystals.

Myopathy— A disease of muscle tissue.

Sprue— A chronic disease of malabsorption characterized by diarrhea.

Resources

BOOKS

Bratman, Steven, and David Kroll. Natural Health Bible. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1999.

Griffith, H. Winter. Vitamins, Herbs, Minerals & Supplements: The Complete Guide. Tucson, AZ: Fisher Books, 1998.

Jellin, Jeff, Forrest Batz, and Kathy Hitchens. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty, 1999.

Pressman, Alan H., and Sheila Buff. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. Indianapolis: Alpha, 2000.

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Niacin

Niacin

Definition

Purpose

Description

Precautions

Interactions

Complications

Parental concerns

Resources

Definition

Niacin is a general term that refers to two forms of vitamin B3, nicotinic acid and niacinamide. Humans need niacin to remain healthy, and although the liver can slowly make very small amounts of niacin, most niacin must come from foods or dietary supplements.

Niacin deficiency is called pellagra. Pellagra affects the skin, digestive tract and brain. The best-known symptom is a rash that becomes darker when

Niacin

Age Recommended
Dietary Allowance
(mg)
Tolerable Upper
Intake Level
(mg)
Children 0–6 mos.2 (AI)Not established
Children 7–12 mos.4 (AI)Not established
Children 1–3 yrs.610
Children 4–8 yrs.815
Children 9–13 yrs.1220
Boys 14–18 yrs.1630
Girls 14–18 yrs.1430
Men 19>yrs.1635
Women 19>yrs.1435
Pregnant women1835
Breastfeeding women1735
Food Niacin (mg)
Cereal, fortified, 1 cup20-27
Tuna, light, packed in water, 3 oz.11.3
Chicken, light meat, 3 oz.10.6
Salmon, 3 oz.8.5
Cereal, unfortified, 1 cup5-7
Turkey, light meat, 3 oz.5.8
Beef, lean, 3 oz.3.1
Pasta, enriched, 1 cup cooked2.3
Bread, whole wheat, 1 slice1.1
Asparagus, cooked, ½ cup1
Carrots, raw, ½ cup0.6
Coffee, brewed, 1 cup0.5
AI = Adequate Intake
mg = milligram

(Illustration by GGS Information Services/Thomson Gale.)

exposed to light. In later stages, the digestive system may become inflamed, and finally the nervous system is affected.

Purpose

Niacin is a necessary part of the cycle in which the body breaks down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and converts them into energy. Niacin also plays a role in the production of certain hormones in the adrenal glands and in helping the liver remove harmful chemicals from the body.

Description

Niacin belongs to the B-complex group of water-soluble vitamins. Scientists working with extracts of nicotine from tobacco first discovered nicotinic acid in the 1930s. Because nicotinic acid turned out to be a vitamin essential to health, scientists created the name niacin by using the first two letters of “nicotinic” and “acid” and the last two letters of “vitamin”. They did not want a health-promoting vitamin to be associated with nicotine and tobacco.

Normal niacin requirements

The United States Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences has developed values called Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for vitamins and minerals. The DRIs consist of three sets of numbers. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) defines the average daily amount of the nutrient needed to meet the health needs of 97-98% of the population. The Adequate Intake (AI) is an estimate set when there is not enough information to determine an RDA. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) is the average maximum amount that can be taken daily without risking negative side effects. The DRIs are calculated for children, adult men, adult women, pregnant women, and breastfeeding women.

The IOM has not set RDAs or ULs for niacin in children under one year old because of incomplete scientific information. Instead, it has set AI levels for this age group. RDAs and ULs for niacin are measured in micrograms (mg) of niacin equivalent (NE). One mg NE equals 1 mg niacin or 60 mg tryptophan, an amino acid that the liver can convert into niacin. Unlike the UL for many vitamins, the UL for niacin acid refers only to niacin that comes from fortified food or that is in dietary supplements such as multivitamins. There is no UL for niacin found in natural plant and animal foods. The UL for niacin also does not apply to individuals who are taking large doses of niacin under the supervision of a medical professional for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

The following are the daily RDAs and IAs and ULs for niacin for healthy individuals:

  • children birth-6 months: AI 2 mg; UL not established. All niacin should come from breast milk, fortified formula, or food.
  • children 7-12 months: AI 4 mg; UL not established. All niacin should come from breast milk, fortified formula, or food.
  • children 1-3 years: RDA 6 mg; UL 10 mg
  • children 4-8 years: RDA 8 mg; UL 15 mg
  • children 9-13 years: RDA 12 mg; UL 20 mg
  • boys 14-18 years: 16 RDA mg; UL 30 mg
  • girls 14-18 years: 14 RDA mg; UL 30 mg
  • men age 19 and older: RDA 16 mg; UL 35 mg
  • women age 19 and older: RDA 14 mg; UL 35 mg
  • pregnant women: RDA 18 mg; UL 35 mg
  • breastfeeding women: RDA 17 mg; 35 mg

KEY TERMS

Alzheimer's disease— An incurable disease of older individuals that results in the destruction of nerve cells in the brain and causes gradual loss of mental and physical functions.

Amino acid— Molecules that are the basic building blocks of proteins.

B-complex vitamins— A group of water-soluble vitamins that often work together in the body. These include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7 or vitamin H), niacin/folic acid (B9), and coba-lamin (B12).

Dietary supplement— A product, such as avitamin, mineral, herb, amino acid, or enzyme, that is intended to be consumed in addition to an individual's diet with the expectation that it will improve health.

Enzyme— A protein that change the rate of a chemical reaction within the body without themselves being used up in the reaction.

Osteoporosis— A condition found in older individuals in which bones decrease indensity and become fragile and more likely to break. It can be caused by lack of vitamin D and/or calcium in the diet.

Steroid— A family of compounds that share a similar chemical structure. This family includes the estrogen and testosterone, vitamin D, cholesterol, and the drugs cortisone and prendisone.

Vitamin— A nutrient that the body needs in small amounts to remain healthy but that the body cannot manufacture for itself and must acquire through diet.

Water-soluble vitamin— A vitamin that dissolves in water and can be removed from the body in urine.

Sources of niacin

Good sources of niacin include red meat, poultry, fish, and fortified cereals. A niacin fortification program began in the United States in 1938 when supplemental niacin was added to bread. Today niacin is routinely added to flour, cereals, bread, and pasta. These products can be labeled “fortified” or “enriched.” Because of niacin fortification, most healthy Americans get enough niacin from their diet without taking a dietary supplement. Niacin is also found in multivitamins, B-complex vitamins, and as a single-ingredient supplement.

Niacin is one of the more stable B vitamins and is not degraded or lost by exposure to heat, light, or air. The following list gives the approximate niacin content for some common foods:

  • chicken, light meat, 3 ounces: 10.6 mg
  • turkey, light meat, 3 ounces: 5.8 mg
  • beef, lean, 3 ounces: 3.1 mg
  • salmon, 3 ounces: 8.5 mg
  • tuna, light, packed in water, 3 ounces: 11.3 mg
  • asparagus, cooked, 1/2 cup: 1 mg
  • carrots, raw, 1/2 cup: 0.6 mg
  • cereal, unfortified 1 cup: 5-7 mg
  • cereal, fortified, 1 cup: 20-27 mg
  • pasta, enriched 1 cup cooked: 2.3 mg
  • bread, whole wheat 1 slice: 1.1 mg
  • coffee, brewed 1 cup: 0.5 mg

Niacin deficiency

Niacin, like other B-complex vitamins, is used in enzyme reactions that break down fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and alcohol into smaller molecules that can be used to produce energy or to build up different molecules necessary to create new cells. Most of the niacin a person needs must come from food. The liver does synthesize small amounts of niacin from tryptophan, an amino acid found in protein . However, this process is very slow, and it takes 60 mg of tryptophan to create 1 mg of niacin. Therefore, for humans to get enough niacin to maintain health, they must eat niacin-rich foods or take a dietary supplement containing niacin.

Diets that contain little or no niacin over time will result in a disorder called pellagra. Symptoms of pellagra include cracked, dry, scaly skin (pellagra means “rough skin” in Italian), swollen tongue, sore mouth, diarrhea, and mental changes. Left untreated, pellagra is fatal. Symptoms of less severe niacin deficiency include fatigue, mouth sores, vomiting, headache, depression, and memory loss.

Pellagra was common in the United States 1940s, particularly among poor people living in the South whose diet consisted mostly of corn and cornmeal. Corn contains niacin, but the niacin is bound to other molecules in a way that make it unavailable for use in the body. Many people in Mexico and Central America survive mainly on a diet of corn products. However, the tradition of soaking corn in solution containing alkaline lime before cooking releases the bound niacin so that it is available to the body. This explains why people living in Mexico and Central American rarely develop pellagra despite corn being a staple in their diet.

In 1938, the United States began a program to add niacin to bread. The fortification program resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of people developing pellagra. Today in the United States, those at highest risk of developing niacin deficiency are people with alcoholism, people with anorexia nervosa (self-starvation), and people with Hartnup's disease, rare genetic disorders that affect the ability of the body to absorb tryptophan.

Niacin and cardiovascular disease

Niacin in the form of nicotinic acid when taken in quantities as large as 2 grams three times a day has proved successful in rigorous clinical trials in lowering cholesterol levels in the blood and slowing the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). When niacin is taken in these quantities, which are far beyond the established UL, it should be treated as a drug, not a dietary supplement, and taken only under the supervision of a physician. Sometimes niacin is prescribed along with statin (cholesterol lowering) drugs. This combination is often more successful in lowering cholesterol than either medication alone.

Over-the-counter niacin dietary supplements can be used to treat cardiovascular disease, but many physicians prefer high-dose prescription niacin. When sold as a prescription drug, the manufacturing process is more strictly controlled than it is for niacin sold as a dietary supplement. Niacin is available in a variety of immediate-, slow- or extended-release tablets or capsules and as a liquid. It is sold under many brand names including Niacor, Niaspan, Nicolar, Nic-otinex Elixir, Slo-niacin, and Novo-Niacin.

Niacin and other diseases

Several studies have examined the effect of large doses of niacin on preventing the development of type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes in high-risk individuals. Nicotinic acid was found to have no effect, but the results of studies using niacinamide were mixed. Research continues in this area. Research is also being done on whether niacin supplementation can decrease the risk of developing certain cancers. Again, the results are not clear. The same is true for studies looking at niacin supplementation as a way of preventing or delaying osteoporosis. Clinical trials are underway to determine safety and effectiveness of niacin both alone and in combination with other vitamins and drugs in preventing or treating cancer, cardiovascular disease, and dementias such as Alzheimer's disease. Individuals interested in participating in a clinical trial at no charge can find a list of open trials at <http://www.clinicaltrials.gov>.ziness, diarrhea, faintness, itchy skin, vomiting, unusual thirst, and irregular heartbeat. Liver damage may also occur at high doses.

Precautions

It must be emphasized that people who take high doses of niacin to lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health must treat niacin like a prescription drug and take it only under the direction of a physician. When high doses of niacin are prescribed, the dosage is increased gradually until the desired amount is reached in order to reduce unpleasant of side effects. Niacin should not be stopped suddenly without consulting a physician. Individuals who take large doses of niacin may need regular blood tests to determine the effectiveness of the treatment.

Studies on the safety of high doses of niacin during pregnancy have not been done. Niacin passes into breast milk and may cause unwanted side effects in breastfed babies. Pregnant and nursing women should consult their physician about whether to reduce or discontinue high-dose niacin supplements.

Interactions

Niacin, especially at high doses, may interact with other drugs. Before starting niacin supplementation, patients should review with their physician all the prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications that they are taking. Some common drug interactions are:

  • When niacin and cholesterol-lowering statin drugs such as lovastatin (Mevacor) or atorvastatin (Lipa-tor) are taken together, cholesterol is lowered more than when these drugs are taken alone.
  • Niacin may increase blood glucose (sugar) levels, requiring adjustments in insulin or diabetes drugs.
  • Oral contraceptives may increase the amount of niacin produced by the liver.
  • Niacin may increase the effect of nitrates (nitroglycerine, isosorbide) used to treat heart conditions.

Complications

When niacin is consumed within the established DRI range, complications are rare. However, when niacin is taken in therapeutic doses to treat disease, serious side effects may develop. The most common side effect is burning, tingling, or hot sensation in the face and chest along with flushed skin. This occurs most often at doses of 75 mg or higher. Building up slowly to large doses of niacin may reduce the sensation, as may taking aspirin 30 minutes before taking niacin. Other side effects include abdominal pain, dizziness, diarrhea, faintness, itchy skin, vomiting, unusual thirst, and irregular heartbeat. Liver damage may also occur at high doses.

Parental concerns

Niacin deficiency almost never occurs in children, and niacin is not taken in large doses by children to prevent disease. When taken within established DRI ranges, parents should have few concerns about niacin.

Resources

BOOKS

Berkson, Burt and Arthur J. Berkson. Basic Health Publications User's Guide to the B-complex Vitamins. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, 2006.

Gaby, Alan R., ed. A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition: Improve Your Health and Avoid Side Effects When Using Common Medications and Natural Supplements Together. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2006.

Lieberman, Shari and Nancy Bruning. The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book: The Definitive Guide to Designing Your Personal Supplement Program, 4th ed. New York: Avery, 2007.

Pressman, Alan H. and Sheila Buff. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals, 3rd ed. Indianapolis, IN: Alpha Books, 2007.

Rucker, Robert B., ed. Handbook of Vitamins. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis, 2007.

ORGANIZATIONS

American Dietetic Association. 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000, Chicago, Illinois 60606-6995. Telephone: (800) 877-1600. Website: <http://www.eatright.org>

American Heart Association. 7272 Greenville Avenue, Dallas, TX 75231. Telephone: (800) 242-8721. Website: <http://www.americanheart.org>

Linus Pauling Institute. Oregon State University, 571

Weniger Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331-6512. Telephone: (541) 717-5075. Fax: (541) 737-5077. Website: <http://lpi.oregonstate.edu>

OTHER

Higdon, Jane. “Niacin.” Linus Pauling Institute-Oregon State University, August 28, 2002. <http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/Niacin>

Harvard School of Public Health. “Vitamins.” Harvard University, November 10, 2006. <http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamins.html>

Maryland Medical Center Programs Center for Integrative Medicine. “Vitamin B3 (Niacin).” University of Maryland Medical Center, April 2002. <http://www.umm.edu/altmed/ConsSupplements/VitaminB3Niacincs>

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Niacin-for High Cholesterol (Systemic).” MayoClinic.com, July 4 2003. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR202404>

Medline Plus. “Niacin (Vitamin B3. Nicotinic acid), Niacinamide.” U. S. National Library of Medicine, August 1, 2006.<http://www.nlm.nih/gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-niacin.html>

Tish Davidson, A.M.

North African diet seeAfrican diet

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Niacin

Niacin

OVERVIEW

Niacin (NYE-uh-sin) is a B vitamin (vitamin B3) that is essential to cell metabolism. It occurs in two forms, nicotinic acid and nicotinamide, also called niacinamide. The only structural difference between the two compounds is that a hydroxyl group (-OH) in nicotinic acid is replaced by an amino group (-NH2) group in nicotinamide. Lack of niacin causes a disease called pellagra. Pellagra was common throughout human history among poor people whose diet consisted almost entirely of corn products. Those corn products did not supply adequate amounts of niacin, causing symptoms such as diarrhea, scaly skin sores, inflamed mucous membranes, weakness, irritability, and mental delusions. In some cases, people with niacin deficiency develop reddish sores and rashes on their faces. Mental hospitals were full of people who seemed crazy, but who were actually suffering from a dietary deficiency. Thousands of people died from pellagra every year.

KEY FACTS

OTHER NAMES:

Nicotinic acid; 3-pyridinecarboxylic acid; vitamin B3

FORMULA:

C6H5NO2

ELEMENTS:

Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen

COMPOUND TYPE:

Carboxylic acid (organic)

STATE:

Solid

MOLECULAR WEIGHT:

123.11 g/mol

MELTING POINT:

236.6°C (457.9°F)

BOILING POINT:

Not applicable; sublimes above its melting point

SOLUBILITY:

Slightly soluble in water, ethyl alcohol, and ether Niacin

Nicotinic acid was first isolated by the Polish-American biochemist Casimir Funk (1884–1967) in 1912. At the time, Funk was attempting to find a cure for another dietary disease known as beriberi. Since nicotinic acid had no effect on beriberi, he abandoned his work with that compound. It was left, then, to the Austrian-American physician Joseph Goldeberger (1874–1929) to find the connection between nicotinic acid and deficiency diseases. In 1915, Goldberger conducted a series of experiments with prisoners in a Mississippi jail and found that he could produce pellagra by altering their diets. He concluded that the disease was caused by the absence of some factor, which he called the P-P (for pellagra-preventative) factor. The chemical structure of that factor was then discovered in 1937 by the American biochemist Conrad Arnold Elvehjem (1901–1962), who cured the disease in dogs by treating them with nicotinic acid.

HOW IT IS MADE

Niacin is synthesized naturally in the human body beginning with the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan occurs naturally in a number of foods, including dairy products, beef, poultry, barley, brown rice, fish, soybeans, and peanuts. People whose diet consists mainly of corn products do not ingest adequate amounts of tryptophan, so their bodies are unable to make the niacin they need to avoid developing pellagra. It takes about 60 milligrams of tryptophan to produce 1 mg of niacin.

Interesting Facts

  • Early investigators chose to use the name niacin rather than nicotinic acid because the later term sounds too much like "nicotine." They did not want to give the impression that a person can get the niacin they need by smoking tobacco, which contains nicotine.
  • Some good sources of niacin include organ meats, such as kidney, liver, and heart; chicken; fish, such as salmon and tuna; milk and dairy products; brewer's yeast; dried beans and legumes; nuts and seeds; broccoli and asparagus; whole grains; dates; mushrooms; tomatoes; sweet potatoes; and avocados.
  • Corn is also a good source of niacin. However, people with corn-based diets are at risk for developing pellagra. The reason for this contradiction is that the niacin in corn is chemically inactivated. Corn must be treated with an alkaline material to convert the niacin it contains to a free form that the body can use. Native Americans who treated their corn products with ley, limestone, wood ashes,or other alkaline materials did not suffer from pellagra.

COMMON USES AND POTENTIAL HAZARDS

Niacin plays a number of essential roles in the body. It is necessary for cell respiration; metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates; the release of energy from foods; the secretion of digestive enzymes; the synthesis of sex hormones; and the proper functioning of the nervous system. It is also involved in the production of serotonin, an essential neurotransmitter in the brain. Niacin deficiency disorders occur as the result of an inadequate diet, consuming too much alcohol, and among people with certain types of cancer and kidney diseases. Physicians treat niacin deficiency diseases by prescribing supplements of 300 to 1,000 milligrams per day of the vitamin. Overdoses of niacin can cause a variety of symptoms, including itching, burning, flushing, and tingling of the skin.

Words to Know

METABOLISM
Process that includes all of the chemical reactions that occur in cells by which fats, carbohydrates, and other compounds are broken down to produce energy and the compounds needed to build new cells and tissues.
MUCOUS MEMBRANES
Tissues that line the moist inner lining of the digestive, respiratory, urinary, and reproductive systems.
NEUROTRANSMITTER
A chemical that carries nerve transmissions from one nerve cell to an adjacent nerve cell.
SUBLIME
Change in state from a solid directly to a gas.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

Eades, Mary Dan. The Doctor's Complete Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. New York: Dell, 2000.

"Niacin (Nicotinic Acid)." PDRHealth. http://www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/nmdrugprofiles/nutsupdrugs/nia_0184.shtml (accessed on October 20, 2005).

"Niacin Deficiency." The Merck Manual. http://www.merck.com/mrkshared/mmanual/section1/chapter3/3l.jsp (accessed on October 20, 2005).

"Nicotinic Acid." Gondar Design Science. http://www.purchon.com/biology/nicotinic.htm (accessed on October 20, 2005).

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