What Is Niacin & What Foods Can I Find It In?

3D-model of Niacin (src)

Niacin is one of the water-soluble B vitamins, also known as vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid.

It’s an essential nutrient.

Niacin deficiency is rare in developed countries, and it is more typically associated with poverty and malnutrition.

Deficiency of niacin causes severe health problems, characterized by four Ds: dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, and eventual death.

Table of Contents

Niacin In The Form Of Nicotinic Acid

Niacin is found in meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and some vegetables.

It is found in the form of nicotinic acid (vitamin B3), which is the oxidized form of niacin and is the biologically active form of the vitamin.

Niacin is an essential nutrient required for the maintenance of a healthy body.

It is an essential cofactor for the metabolism of tryptophan to serotonin and norepinephrine, both of which are neurotransmitters that affect mood and mental health.

Niacin Is Essential

Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is a water-soluble B vitamin that has multiple necessary biological effects, particularly on energy metabolism. (source )

Niacin is a coenzyme that is responsible for energy release from carbohydrates. (source )

Niacin possesses many health benefits, like its impact on decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

If you are interested, you can find them in Niacin: 9 Research-Backed Benefits & One Side-Effect .

Benefits of Niacin

Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin and is used in the formation of carnitine.

Niacin is a nutrient that helps the body use and store energy.

It is also necessary for the maintenance of healthy skin, eyes, and bones.

Niacin helps the body metabolize proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

It also helps maintain blood sugar levels and promotes blood clotting.

It is essential for good nerve and brain function.

Niacin Deficiency

Deficiency of niacin causes pellagra. Pellagra was known as the disease of the four Ds: dermatitis, diarrhea, dementi,a and death.

Niacin deficiency can result in impaired immune function and decreased hemoglobin production.

Niacin deficiency is also known to cause numerous skin changes, which include skin dryness, peeling, pruritus, scaling, lichenification, and dermatitis.

Supplements of niacin such as nicotinic acid or nicotinamide are approved by the FDA for treating and preventing niacin deficiency.

Toxicity Of Niacin

In large doses, niacin has been known to be toxic.

Toxicity when eating foods containing niacin is rare, but can occur from long-term use of high-dose supplements.

It can lead to symptoms like fatigue, irritability, and even liver damage.

Caution should therefore be used if one is taking niacin or B-complex supplements. (source )

Niacin In Foods

Protein foods, such as eggs, fish, meat, dairy milk, and poultry, are naturally rich in niacin.

They are also plentiful in the amino acid tryptophan, which can be synthesized into niacin by the liver. (source )

Plant-based foods, such as nuts, legumes, and grains, also provide niacin.

But they are not as bioavailable as protein-rich foods. (source )

Niacin in fortified foods

Niacin are often added to fortified foods.

Niacin that is added to enriched and fortified foods is in its free form and therefore highly bioavailable.

Foods You Can Find Niacin In

You find Niacin mostly in spices and herbs, vegetables, breakfast cereal, and beverages.

Examples of food sources include

Foods in our nutrition tool

You can find regularly updated top-ranked lists of foods for over 200+ nutrients in our nutrition tool.

If you are interested in what foods contain the most Niacin, we recommend you visit our tool.

Here's our top-ranked list of foods that contain Niacin.

Sara Niemelä

co-founder Care Omnia, Head Content Creator

Author Image of Sara Niemelä

Nutrition is my passion. I've spent thousands upon thousands of hours reading, analyzing, categorizing and comparing research studies.

I’m a wife and a mother of three. I enjoy the outdoors, cooking, and spending time with my family.