Niacin, a water-soluble B vitamin, plays a part in maintaining your energy level and brain function as well as helping to prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease. Adult men need at least 16 milligrams of niacin per day and women need at least 14 milligrams per day. You get niacin from eating protein-rich foods, such as chicken, tuna, turkey, salmon, pork, beef, peanuts and beans, and whole grains. It’s also available in individual supplement and included in multivitamin and b-complex supplements.
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, plays a role in metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. This means it helps convert the macronutrients into their building blocks, which are smaller carbohydrate molecules, such as glucose, amino acids and fatty acids. These are usable forms of energy for your body. Getting an adequate amount of niacin helps ensure your metabolism of nutrients is at its best and aids in maintaining your energy levels. Even a slight deficiency of niacin may cause physical and mental fatigue.
Your risk of heart disease may be reduced by consuming enough niacin. The vitamin may help to lower bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increase good cholesterol levels, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. These effects decrease your risk of both heart attack and stroke. An article published in the journal “Circulation” in November 2004 notes that taking niacin along with traditional cholesterol-lowering medications also significantly slows hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, associated with heart disease. Typically these results are produced from large, therapeutic doses of niacin, which should only be taken under medical supervision.