Vitamin B3 Rich FoodsFoods which are good sources of niacin
Welcome to our page dedicated to niacin, one of the B vitamins. The main purpose of this page is to provide you with a list of niacin rich foods, but we also explain the benefits of this important vitamin, as well as look at the symptoms of deficiency.
What is niacin and why do you need it?
Niacin is a water-soluble B-vitamin, often known as vitamin B3. It is an essential vitamin that plays a part in maintaining energy levels and brain function, as well as processing fat, lowering cholesterol levels and regulating blood sugar levels. Furthermore, it also helps prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease.
It is well regulated by the body and thus overdose is rare and usually only occurs when Niacin is taken as supplements. The current DV for vitamin B3 is 20mg, though there is ongoing discussion about this amongst healthcare professionals, hence the lower levels in the RDI box to the right.
The Institute of Medicine recommends adults do not consume more than 35 milligrams of niacin per day.
RDI Vitamin B3
- 16mg Males over 14
- 14mg Females over 14
- 18mg Pregnant women
- 17mg Breastfeeding women
- 12mg Children 9-13 years
- 8mg Children 4-8 years
- 6mg Toddler 1-3 years
- 4mg Infants 7-12 months
- 2mg Infants 0-6 months
List of Vitamin B3 rich FoodsThe best sources of niacin
Niacin is found in a wide range of foods, and it is also added to a range of foods, notably cereals, upon processing. It is found in protein-rich foods such as meats, nuts and beans, and whole grains. Coffee also contains niacin. Here are some of the foods that contain the highest levels of this nutrient:
Vitamin B3 foods
Foods high in niacin (per 100g)
- Yeast extract – 127.5 mg
- Rice bran – 34.0 mg
- Coffee powder, instant – 28.2 mg
- Peanut butter – 24.6 mg
- Yellowfin tuna (cooked) – 22.1 mg
- Anchovies, canned – 19.9 mg
- Lamb’s liver (cooked) – 16.7 mg
- Chicken breast (cooked) – 14.8 mg
- Mushrooms, shiitake, dried – 14.1 mg
- Peanuts (oil roasted) – 13.8 mg
- Tuna, canned – 13.3 mg
- Seaweed, spirulina – 12.8 mg
- Bacon, cooked – 11.1 mg
- Pork chop, lean (cooked) -10.9 mg
- Venison, cooked – 10.8 mg
- Tomatoes, sundried – 9.1 mg
- Beef, lean rib (cooked) – 9.0 mg
- Sunflower seeds – 8.3 mg
- Mushrooms, portobello (grilled) – 6.3 mg
- Fortified cereals – eg Kelloggs All-bran – 14.8 mg; Kelloggs cornflakes – 17.9 mg
It is interesting to note that some foods, such as corn, release niacin when they are cooked. Before cooking, the niacin in corn cannot be digested by humans.
Vitamin B3 deficiency leads to a condition called pellagra. The symptoms of this condition include diarrheea, dermatitis, dementia, inflammation of the mouth, amnesia and delirium. If the condition is severe and left untreated it can lead to death.
However, the symptoms of less severe niacin deficiency include:
- poor concentration
- physical and mental fatigue
Benefits of niacin
Vitamin B3 plays an important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It helps to convert these macronutrients into glucose, fatty acids and amino acids; smaller molecules which are useable forms of energy for your body. It is important to make sure you have an adequate supply of niacin so you can ensure your optimum metabolism of these nutrients to aid in maintaining your energy levels.
Other benefits of this nutrient include:
- plays a role in the formation of red blood cells and skin cells
- helps maintain your central nervous system and brain function
- assists functions of the digestive system
- balances the hormone levels within the body
- according to the Linus Pauling institute it may help lower bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increase levels of good cholesterol
- helps regulate sex hormones
- may help prevent dementia and Alzheimers, and reduce the rate of age-related cognitive decline
- evidence that it helps reduce atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries
Too much of this vitamin (upwards of 150mg per day) can cause something called “niacin flush” which makes the skin on the chest and face turn red. This is harmless but uncomfortable. Niacin can also cause stomach upsets and diarrhoea, and for this reason if you are taking supplements it is recommended you take them with food to minimise the chances of this happening.
While B3 can be used as a treatment for high cholesterol, it is important that this is ONLY done under medical supervision. High doses of this nutrient (greater than 500 mg per day) can cause liver problems, stomach ulcers, low blood pressure, changes to heart rhythm, and other serious side effects. Therefore it is essential that you don’t try to treat this condition yourself with over-the-counter niacin supplements.