Vitamin B3

The best foods and the symptoms of deficiency

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The major functions of vitamin B3, otherwise known as niacin, are many aspects of metabolism including the breakdown and use of fatty acids, protein breakdown and usage and the regulation of certain neurotransmitters. 

 It is also responsible for energy production and the release of energy from the food we eat. 

Some of the main benefits of this vitamin include lowering cholesterol and improving circulation.  It also helps in the treatment of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses as well being a good memory enhancer.

Vitamin B3 deficiency symptoms affect the following areas and include:

  • Mental: depression, anxiety, irritability, dementia, poor memory, confusion
  • Skin: acne, rough inflamed, rashes, dermatitis, inflamed mouth
  • Digestion: burning or raw sensation in the mouth, tongue or stomach, tender gums, indigestion, bad breath, diarrhea, constipation


  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Anorexia
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches and migraine

The following can contribute to a B3 deficiency:

  • Alcohol - destroys B3
  • Coffee, tea and smoking
  • High sugar or refined carbohydrate intake
  • Antibiotics
  • Rigorous exercise

The amount of this vitamin needed in our diets per day varies for each individual, but on average it is suggested that a male requires 17mg per day and a woman slightly less.

Good food sources of vitamin B 3 are:

  • Brewers yeast
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cheese
  • Rice bran
  • Wholegrain barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Rye
  • Potatoes with skin
  • Meats including organ meat
  • Fish
  • Peanuts
  • Tomato puree

Three slices of lean roast beef, 150g of roast chicken or a large salmon steak would provide an average adult with enough vitamin B 3 for a day.

This vitamin can cause blood sugar levels to elevate and so people who are pregnant, or suffer with diabetes, glaucoma or gout should use supplements with caution.

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