Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is a micronutrient your body uses for proper metabolism, nervous system function, and antioxidant protection. It is an important nutrient – which means you have to get it from food, as your body cannot produce it on its own.
As niacin dissolves in water, any residue is excreted in your urine rather than stored in your body. Therefore, it is important to regularly eat niacin-containing foods.
The recommended dietary supplement (RDA) for this nutrient is 16 mg per day for men and 14 mg per day for women – enough to meet the needs of almost 98% of adults.
Foods With Vitamin B3
The liver is one of the best natural sources of niacin. A typical 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of boiled beef liver provides 14.7 mg of niacin, or 91% RDA for men and 100% RDA for women.
Chicken liver is also a good source, providing 73% and 83% of the RDA for men and women for each 3-ounce (85-gram) cooked, respectively. Besides, the liver is amazingly nutritious, rich in protein, iron, choline, vitamin A, and other B vitamins.
Chicken, especially breast meat, is a good source of both niacin and healthy protein.
3 ounces (85 grams) of boiled, lean, skinless chicken breast contains 11.4 mg of niacin, 71% and 81% of the RDA for men and women, respectively. By comparison, the same number of lean, skinless chicken thighs contain only half of that amount.
Chicken breasts are also high in protein, containing 8.7 grams per cooked ounce (28 grams), making it an excellent choice for low-calorie, high-protein foods designed to lose weight.
Tuna is a good source of niacin and is a good alternative to people who eat fish but not meat. One 5.8-ounce (165-gram) can of simple tuna provides 21.9 mg of niacin, more than 100% of the RDA for men and women. And there are many proteins, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
There is some concern about mercury poisoning because this metal can accumulate in the flesh of tuna. However, one meal a week is considered safe for most people.
Although turkey contains less niacin than chicken, it does provide tryptophan, your body can turn into niacin. 3 ounces (85 grams) of cooked turkey breast pack 6.3 mg of niacin and tryptophan is enough to produce an extra milligram of niacin. In total, this is about 46% of the RDA for men and 52% for women.
However, since the median intake of niacin in the United States is 28 mg per day for men and 18 mg per day for women, it is unlikely that your body will need to convert most tryptophan into niacin.
Tryptophan is also used to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin and the hormone melatonin – both of which are important for mood and sleep.
Salmon – especially caught in the wild – is also a good source of niacin. One cooked 3-ounce (85-gram) leaflet of wild Atlantic salmon packs 53% of the RDA for men and 61% for the RDA for women. The same portion of Atlantic salmon on the farm contains less – about 42% of RDA for men and 49% for women.
Salmon is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help fight inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease and autoimmune disorders. Wild salmon contains more omega-3s than domesticated salmon, but both are good sources.
Eating canned anchovies is a cheap way to meet your niacin needs. One anchovy provides approximately 5% of the RDA for adult men and women. So, eating 10 anchovies gives you half the amount of niacin you need each day. These fish are small and are an excellent source of selenium, which contains about 4% of the RDI per anchovy.
Eating selenium-rich foods is associated with a 22% lower risk of cancer, especially those of breast, lung, throat, stomach, and prostate.
Reduced pork cuts, such as pork chops or reduced pork chops, are also good sources of niacin. 3 ounces (85 grams) of a pork pack of 6.3 mg of niacin, or 39% and 45% of the RDA for men and women, respectively.
In comparison, the same portion of fatty cuts like grilled pork shoulder contains only 20% of the RDA for men and 24% for the RDA for women.
Pork is also one of the main sources of food for thiamine – also known as vitamin B1 – which is a key vitamin for your body’s metabolism.
Ground beef is a good source of niacin and is rich in protein, iron, vitamin B12, selenium, and zinc. Various bees in the soil contain more niacin per ounce than fatty products.
For example, a single 3-ounce (85-gram) 95% low-fat cooked beef provides 6.2 mg of niacin, while the same amount of 70% low beef contains just 4.1 mg.
Some studies have found that grass-fed beef provides more omega-3 fatty acids and healthier antioxidants than regular beef cattle, making it a more nutritious alternative.
Peanuts are one of the best vegetarian sources of niacin. Two tablespoons (32 grams) of peanut butter contain 4.3 mg of niacin, about 25% of the RDA for men and 30% for women. Nuts are also rich in protein, monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.
While peanuts are high in calories, research shows that eating them daily is associated with health benefits such as a reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes. Besides, daily consumption of nuts does not lead to weight gain.
One medium avocado contains 3.5 mg of niacin, or 21% and 25% of the RDA for men and women, respectively. They are rich in fiber, healthy fats, and many vitamins and minerals. In fact, one avocado contains more than double the potassium banana.
Avocados are also an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease if eaten regularly.
One cup (195 grams) of brown cooked rice contains 18% RDA for male niacin and 21% for women. However, some studies show that only 30% of the available niacin in the body is absorbed, making it a much smaller source than other foods.
In addition to its niacin content, brown rice is rich in fiber, thiamine, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and selenium. Swipe white rice with brown has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve heart health symptoms in obese and overweight women.
Whole wheat products – such as whole wheat bread and pasta – are also high in niacin. This is because the outer layer containing niacin-rich wheat grains – known as bran – is added to whole wheat flour but is removed from pure white flour.
For example, one muffin in wheat-filled wheat contains about 15% of the RDA for men and women, but an English muffin made with unleavened white flour offers only about 5%. However, like brown rice, only 30% of niacin in whole wheat products is digested and added.
Mushrooms are one of the best vegetarian sources of niacin, offering 2.5 mg per cup (70 grams) – that is 15% and 18% of the RDA for men and women, respectively.
This makes these delicious fungi a good choice for vegetarians or vegans who seek natural sources of niacin. Mushrooms are grown under sunlight also produce vitamin D and are one of the dietary sources of this vitamin.
Interestingly, research has found that vitamin D supplementation through mushrooms acts as an ingredient to increase vitamin D levels in poor adults.
Green peas are an excellent source of highly absorbed niacin, which boasts 3 mg per cup (145 grams) – about 20% of the RDA for both men and women. They are rich in fiber, 7.4 grams per cup (145 grams). One cup of green peas provides more than 25% of the daily needs of a person who eats 2,000 calories a day.
Studies show that peas also contain many antioxidants and other chemicals that can reduce your risk of cancer, lower cholesterol levels, and promote the growth of healthy intestines.
White potatoes are a good source of niacin – with or without skin. One of the large baked potatoes provides 4.2 mg of niacin, which is about 25% of the RDA for men and 30% for women.
According to another review, Russet brown potatoes pack the highest amount of niacin in any type of potato – with 2 mg per 100 grams. Sweet potatoes are also a good source, providing almost the same amount of niacin as a standard white potato.
Fortified and Enriched Foods
Most foods are fortified or enriched with niacin, converting you from negative sources of this nutrient to good. Fortified foods are supplemented with extra nutrients, while fortified foods contain added nutrients that were lost during processing.
Many breakfast kinds of cereal and refined grain products such as white bread and pasta are enriched or enriched with niacin to improve nutrient content.
What does vitamin B3 do for your body?
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is an important nutrient. In fact, every part of your body needs it to function properly. As a supplement, niacin may help lower cholesterol, ease arthritis and boost brain function, among other benefits.
Is niacin the same as Vitamin B3?
Vitamin B3 is one of 8 B vitamins. It is also known as niacin (nicotinic acid) and has 2 other forms, niacinamide (nicotinamide) and inositol hexanicotinate, which have different effects from niacin. All B vitamins help the body convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which the body uses to produce energy.
When should I take niacin morning or night?
Niacin should be taken with food. The extended-release form of niacin should be taken at bedtime.