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Vitamin B3 Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is one of eight B vitamins. It plays a role in transforming the food we eat into energy. It helps the body absorb proteins and fats, and it keeps the skin, hair, and nervous system healthy. Other potential benefits of vitamin B3 come from lowering cholesterol, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Other names for vitamin B3 include nicotinamide, nicotinic acid, and vitamin PP because they prevent pellagra. The body releases any unwanted niacin into the urine. The body does not store niacin, so people should eat it daily. A healthy diet can provide all the B3 vitamin B needs. Vitamin B3 deficiency is uncommon in the United States.

Symptoms of Vitamin B3 Deficiency

Dietary sources of niacin, such as brown rice, can help prevent deficiency. In the past, niacin deficiency was common, especially in the southern U.S. Now, however, many people are getting enough B3 vitamins in their diet.

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), a person without vitamin B-3 can get:

  • skin rash produced by the sun
  • heavy appearance on the skin
  • bright red tongue
  • fatigue or apathy
  • vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea
  • circulatory problems
  • disappointment
  • headache
  • memory loss
  • in severe cases, insanity

Severe deficiency of vitamin B-3 can lead to pellagra. The condition can be fatal.

Factors that can lead to low B3 levels include:

  • malnutrition in tryptophans or a condition that reduces the body’s ability to convert tryptophan into niacin, such as Hartnup syndrome or carcinoid syndrome
  • malnutrition, for example, due to impaired alcohol consumption, anorexia, and inflammatory bowel disease
  • a low in vitamin B2, B6, or iron, as this may reduce the amount of tryptophan converting to niacin


By the 1800s, pellagra was common among poor Americans whose diet consisted of corn, broth, and pork salt – all harmful sources of niacin. Today, most people in developed countries get a lot of niacin from their diet. Niacin deficiency may be caused by problems affecting the absorption of niacin or tryptophan. The most common reason is alcohol abuse. Other possible causes include disruption of the digestive system and long-term treatment with isoniazid (Laniazid, Nydrazid).


The recommended daily dose (RDA) for niacin is 16 milligrams per day for men and 14 milligrams per day for women. Good sources of niacin include red meat, fish, poultry, fortified bread and cereals, and improved pasta and peanuts.

If you do not eat a lot of niacin or if you have a health condition that affects the absorption of niacin or tryptophan, talk to your doctor. Niacin supplements or multivitamin/mineral supplements, which usually contain at least 20 milligrams of niacin, can help prevent niacin deficiency.

Nacin supplements such as nicotinic acid or nicotinamide are approved by the FDA for the treatment and prevention of niacin deficiency. Under a doctor’s direction, high doses of over-the-counter or prescription niacin or nicotinic acid can be used to treat high cholesterol, including high triglycerides.

The most common side effect of niacin supplementation is brushing. Other side effects include nausea, vomiting, pruritus, pneumonia, abnormally high liver enzymes, and constipation.

However, too much nicotinic acid or too much niacin can be harmful. Avoid taking more than the doctor’s recommendation or recommendation. If you are taking doses of more than 100 milligrams a day, doctors recommend periodic liver tests.

Used in medicine

In the past, some people have combined vitamin B-3 with the use of statins as a treatment for cholesterol control. However, research has shown mixed results and has harmed some people.

For this reason, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association does not recommend using this treatment.


The amount of vitamin B3 found in food does not cause side effects. However, taking large amounts of vitamin B-3 as a supplement can have adverse effects.

These include:

  • Rash or itchy skin
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Extra vitamin B3 can also:

  • Decreased glucose tolerance and insulin resistance
  • Continue attacks among people with gout
  • Eye problems are the result
  • May cause gastrointestinal problems
  • Increases the risk of liver damage
  • This leads to low blood pressure, loss of balance, and risk of showers

Related: Vitamin A Deficiency | Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment


What happens if you don't get enough vitamin B3?

Pellagra is a condition that occurs due to a lack of vitamin B-3, otherwise known as niacin. It can cause many symptoms, but the most common are diarrhea, dermatitis, and dementia. Without diagnosis and treatment, pellagra can be life-threatening.

What are the symptoms of lack of vitamin B3?

Vitamin B3 deficiency symptoms include fatigue, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth sores, a swollen bright red tongue, poor circulation, and depressed mood. Cracked scaly skin that is highly sensitive to the sun is another symptom of vitamin B3 deficiency.

How do you treat vitamin B3 deficiency?

If you have a mild vitamin B3 deficiency, you may be able to correct it by eating food rich in vitamin B3s. Foods with niacin include Beef liver and kidney. Beets.


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