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vitamins And Minerals > > Niacin

Niacin is an essential vitamin needed for growth and good health. Niacin is one of the B-complex vitamins, and like all of these, it is water-soluble. Niacin is essential for a proper metabolism. It is used by the body to produce enzymes that release energy from foods in the form of glucose. Niacin also helps promote growth of healthy skin, and it aids in nerve development and maintenance of a healthy digestive system. The vitamin also aids in heart disease prevention by blocking production of cholesterol.

Niacin can be obtained through various animal and plant foods, as well as through supplements. Protein-rich foods like beef, fish and peanuts are all excellent sources of the vitamin. Milk and eggs, as well as whole wheat bread, are also significant providers of niacin.

The recommended daily allowance for niacin is 15-20 mg for adult males and 13-15 mg for adult females. Pregnant and breastfeeding females need slightly more niacin, 17 and 20 mg respectively.

Certain conditions can increase a person's need for niacin. Some of these include cancer, diabetes, prolonged diarrhea, prolonged fever, liver disease, overactive thyroid or various intestinal problems. Early signs of niacin deficiency include digestion problems, weak muscles and changes in skin texture. Severe niacin deficiency can result in a disease called Pellagra. Symptoms of Pellagra include dermatitis (cracked skin), diarrhea, changes in texture or color of the tongue, confusion and disorientation. Doctors treat Pellagra by prescribing niacin supplements to afflicted patients.

An excess of niacin in the system is not extremely toxic, as it is water-soluble and is expelled in urine. However, consuming more than 1,000 mg of per day may cause a temporarily flushed face. Consuming an excess of 3 g per day can cause liver damage. Niacin overdose can be dangerous for people with ulcers or asthma. Large doses of niacin can be given to aid in lowering cholesterol, but this should only be done under close supervision by a doctor.

vitamins And Minerals > > Niacin