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Vitamin B3

Nicotinic Acid (niacin), Niacinamide (nicotinamide)

Nicotinic acid was isolated as a pure chemical substance in 1867, but not until 1937 was it dsicovered to be the anti-PELLAGRA vitamin for humans. Classical deficiency of niacin, Pellagra, is characterised by the four D's - dermatitis, dementia, diarhoea, and death. Nicotinic acid is produced from tryptophan in the body and is then converted into niacinamide. Nicotinic acid functions in the body as a component in the coenzymes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and NADP, which are involved in approximately 200 enzyme processes.

Nicotinic acid and niacinamide have different beneficial applications.


Up to several grams of nicotinic acid has been used in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol). Studies evaluating niacinamide in arthritic patients have utilised between 900mg - 4,000mg daily.

Potential applications

Elevated blood lipids i.e. elevated cholesterol levels, hyperglycaemia, diabetes, intermittent claudication, Raynaud's phenomena, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Niacinamide has been shown to be a tumour-specific radio-sensitizer, possibly because of its effect on vaso-relaxation and increased tumour oxygenation.

Known contraindications

Nicotinic can cause a harmless facial flushing resulting from vasodilation and histamine release. Nicotinic acid should not be used by diabetic individuals unless under supervision. It should also not be used by those with liver disease or peptic ulcers.


The conversion of vitamin folic acid to its active form tetrahydrafolate (THF) requires vitamin B3. Nicotinic acid is intricately involved with other B vitamins in energy metabolism.

Use in conjunction with

  • Cholesterol reduction - flax seed oil, ester C, antioxidant complex, vitamin E
  • Hyperglycaemia - chromium complex, garlic, quercetin complex, fibre complex


© Cheryl Thallon at Viridian

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