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Veterinarian Reviewed on June 6, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized


Niacin is one of the B vitamins. The B vitamins, such as Vitamin B6 are water soluble vitamins and therefore need to be replenished regularly. They will dissolve in water and the excess vitamins are filtered through the kidneys and leave the body through urine.

Niacin Function

Niacin is vital in the proper function of the digestive system, nerves and skin. It also contributes in converting the food you eat to the energy you need. It is found in dairy products, fish, lean meats, poultry, eggs and nuts. Some legumes and enriched cereals and bread also provide niacin.

Uses in humans

Niacin supplements are used for the prevention and treatment of a lack of niacin, as well as to lower cholesterol and triglycerides. It is also an agent that is used to reduce the risk of additional heart attacks in people who have high cholesterol and who have already suffered through a heart attack.

Side effects of Niacin

Pellagra is caused by a deficiency of niacin. It is exhibited by inflamed skin, mental impairment and digestive problems. Niacin should not be taken if you have had allergies to nicotinic acid, stomach ulcers, active bleeding or severe liver disease. It can also cause flushed skin. The skin flush and accompanying itchiness is usually evident if alcohol or a hot beverage is consumed right after you have taken niacin. Usually symptoms subside over time.

If you have diabetes, gout or muscular diseases such as myasthenia gravis or uncontrolled angina, you should not take niacin without medical supervision. Often the dosage needs to be adjusted under these circumstances.

Use in pregnancy

The Food and Drug Administration states that niacin may be harmful to unborn children if it is taken in high doses as a treatment for high cholesterol. Your physician needs to be informed if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Niacin will pass to the baby through breast milk and has the potential to harm the baby. Do not take niacin supplements if you are breast feeding.

Other effects of Niacin

Niacin supplements can cause dizziness with sudden changes in posture. It is important to get up slowly and not make sudden moves if you are taking niacin. Hold on to something to steady yourself as you stand from a sitting or lying position to prevent yourself from falling or tipping over.


The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of niacin changes with age. Gender also plays a role in proper dosage. Infants need 2-4 mg per day according to their age. Children from 1-3 years require 6 mg per day. At the age of 4-8 years the dosage increases to 8 mg per day. From 9-13 years, the RDA is 12 mg per day.

As men approach adolescents and adulthood the RDA is 16mg per day. Women will require 14mg per day. The specific dosing will depend on the other factors as well, such as pregnancy. It is important to consult with your health care professional as to the proper dosage for your specific needs.

As with any seemingly benign supplement, too much is not good. It is always advisable to consult with your health care provider before beginning any type of vitamin regime. Special attention needs to be given to women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. All underlying issues also need to be addressed.

Read also: Gout

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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