Niacin, also referred to as nicotinic acid or vitamin B-3, is a vitamin in the B complex group and is soluble in water. White in color and crystal-like in appearance it is present in several animal and plant tissues. Niacin is essential for the normal and healthy functioning of intestinal tract, stomach, nervous system, and for a healthy skin. It is also necessary for the production of sex hormones. To further understand this vitamin, let’s look at its benefits.
Niacin is involved in the breakdown of all major foods. It is essential for the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fat; and is involved in the conversion of calories to energy. It is also required for the production of hydrochloric acid and is crucial for the metabolism of certain toxicants and drugs.
2.Supports nervous system:
Niacin supports the normal functioning of the central nervous system and is a vital element for healthy skin and normal digestive functioning. It is also essential for the formation of red blood cells and certain other hormones. By stimulating circulation, niacin helps maintain normal blood pressure and blood triglyceride levels. It is also found to support higher functions of the brain and cognition. Originally niacin was used for the treatment of pellagra, a serious condition that arises due to high levels of deficiency of this vitamin. Symptoms of pellagra include diarrhea, skin problems, and mental confusion. However, high doses of this vitamin have also been found useful for supporting normal mood and psychological functioning.
Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin and is commonly used to refer to two different compounds, namely, nicotinic acid and niacinamide. In this nicotinic acid is the compound that is capable of reducing cholesterol levels and supports detoxification by opening blood vessels wider. Niacinamide does not provide any of these benefits. Therefore, you need to ensure that the niacin referred to in your detoxification program is nicotinic acid and not niacinamide.
Nicotinic acid has the effect of causing vasodilation also referred to as the niacin flush. Niacin (nicotinic acid) enables to open the small blood vessels and capillaries wider so that more blood flows through it. These blood vessels help in reaching the fatty tissues and the toxins stored in these tissues are flushed into the blood stream. From here the toxins are processed out of the body. The niacin flush is not a harmful or dangerous procedure. It is in fact a sign of increased blood flow. Therefore it leads to a healthier skin, hair, and nails.
4.Promotes cardiovascular functions:
Nicotinic acid is found to play a significant part in effectively lowering LDL cholesterol levels and increasing HDL cholesterol, both of which support normal cholesterol levels. Niacin (nicotinic acid) has been used, either by itself or in combination with other drugs, for the treatment and prevention of high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and for the reduction of risks related to cardiovascular diseases. In clinical studies, niacin was found to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) by 20% and triglycerides by 10%-25%. It was also found to increase good cholesterol (HDL) by 15%-25%.
The niacinamide compound of niacin also has its share of benefits. Some studies have shown that this compound is capable of improving symptoms of arthritis and reducing the need for anti-inflammatory medicines. It is also useful in reducing insulin resistance in type 1 diabetics. Some studies have also proven that niacin (niacinamide) and its derivatives may have a key role in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin, which simply means that any excess of the vitamin will not be stored in the body but rather flushed out. Therefore, this vitamin has to be obtained on a daily basis by consuming food that contains niacin. However, also note that vigorous food processing, consumption of alcohol and sleeping pills results in the destruction of niacin benefits. Therefore, in addition to eating healthy, practice healthy habits to ensure a healthy you.