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Alternative namesDiet - niacin; Nicotinic acid
DefinitionNiacin is a water-soluble vitamin necessary for many aspects of health, growth, and reproduction. It is part of the vitamin B complex.
FunctionNiacin assists in the functioning of the digestive system, skin, and nerves. It is also important for the conversion of food to energy.
Food SourcesNiacin (also known as vitamin B3) is found in dairy products, poultry, fish, lean meats, nuts, and eggs. Legumes and enriched breads and cereals also supply some niacin.
A deficiency of niacin causes pellagra . The symptoms include inflamed skin, digestive problems, and mental impairment.
Large doses of niacin can cause liver damage, peptic ulcers , and skin rashes . Even normal doses can be associated with skin flushing. It can be prescribed as a treatment for elevated total cholesterol and other types of lipid disorders, but it should only be used with medical supervision due to its potential for severe side effects.
Recommended daily allowances (RDAs) are defined as the levels of intake of essential nutrients that the Food and Nutrition Board judges to be adequate to meet the known nutrient needs of most healthy persons.
Update Date: 1/18/2003Steven Angelo, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT