B-vitamins are celebrated for good reason, as they contribute a great deal to our body’s overall healthy functioning. While B-2 (riboflavin) and B-12 (cobalamin) tend to get more attention, B-3, or niacin, deserves your attention as well.
In the 1940s, a few doctors began to note that niacin helped almost miraculously with arthritis pains and stiffness.
This vitamin causes a unique reaction in our blood vessels, causing them to dilate near the skin, resulting in a red, warming “flush” of the skin. To avoid an unpleasant reaction, start “low and slow” with niacin (50-100 mcg daily) and go from there.
Niacin, like the other B-vitamins, works synergistically (that is, better together), so you’ll often find them offered in supplement form as a “complex” incorporating all (or most) of them.
Along with the aforementioned arthritis benefits, here are a few more niacin benefits.
The work of Dr. Abram Hoffer showed that three doses of 1,000 mg per day improved memory and some problems associated with senility. Although a small sample size, one of his studies led to 5 out of 10 people suffering from senility to have incredible recoveries.
Another study was done by the University of California and also showed that niacin proves promising for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, which famously diminishes memory.
If you suffer, like so many people, from sleep issues, niacin might be worth a try. Niacinamide (a related form of niacin) works to activate certain receptors (benzodiazepine) in the brain, which can improve sleep.
Niacin may just be your ticket as well for reducing cholesterol. Not only is it shown to lower cholesterol, but triglycerides as well. We have blood fats referred to as “low-density lipoproteins,” which are linked to cardiovascular disease and cancer. Niacin helps with blood sugar problems and dilates our blood vessels, enhancing the circulation of oxygen and nutrients.
Moreover, heart patients taking niacin also had substantially lower rates of death after five years than those not taking niacin, according to one study.
As stated in the introduction, niacin, and specifically its form niacinamide, has proven to be an excellent supplement for arthritis. This is because niacinamide only works to dilate blood vessels surrounding the joints.
Additional benefits of taking niacin
- Reduced sensitivity to sunlight: Niacin deficiency can make you extremely light sensitive.
- Motion sickness: Along with papaya, niacin can help reduce or prevent motion sickness.
- Better sex: Niacin taken 15-20 minutes prior to sex may increase the production of natural lubricants in the vaginal area.
Dosage and safety
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to niacin.
It can irritate the lining of the stomach if taken without food, so be sure to take it following your meals.
Niacin might also exacerbate problems with gout, and time-released forms of niacin have caused significant liver damage. Avoid these.
In general, 100-200 mg a day will often be plenty to help your body perform at its best. As always, it never hurts—and is certainly recommended—to consult your doctor before you begin any new supplementation.