Niacin is one of the many vitamins required by the body to function properly. Too much and too little niacin can lead to serious complications for several body systems, making it important for each person to maintain a healthy diet and avoid overuse of supplements to keep niacin levels within a healthy
Niacin is a B vitamin, also known as nicotinic acid, despite not related to nicotine. Its function in the body is to enable healthy tissue growth and carbohydrate conversion. The presence of niacin in the body are also necessary vitamins thiamin and riboflavin to perform its intended functions.
The recommended dosage of niacin is different for adults and children. Men require 16 to 19 mg and women 13 to 14 mg daily. Children begin only need 2 mg per day in childhood and slowly working up to the adult dose at the age of 14 years. Niacin can be used by eating lean meat, fish, whole wheat bread items and green vegetables. Taking a standard multivitamin will also help you reach your daily recommended dose of this vitamin.
Pellagra is a serious disease caused by a deficiency of niacin in combination with the lack of protein. It is a common disorder in developing countries where access to proper nutrition is poor. Symptoms of pellagra include sensitivity to light, confusion, insomnia, ataxia of muscles, wounds and diarrhea. Pellagra is fatal if left untreated because the body is unable to perform the normal functions helped by niacin and finally turns off. In addition to pellagra, creating general niacin deprivation prolonged problems with the skin, nervous system and digestive system, and a lowered metabolism.
People who have too much niacin in their systems their experiences own set of symptoms. Skin problems are the most obvious with flushing, dry skin and severe forms of rash. Niacin in high doses car raise blood sugar, causing serious problems for diabetics. Indigestion is also associated with high levels of niacin and severely elevated levels over time can lead to liver failure and an irregular heartbeat. It is also suspected, but not proven that elevated niacin in pregnant women can lead to birth defects in their unborn children. As some symptoms of low and high levels of niacin mirror each other, such as skin and gastrointestinal complaints, should a blood test done to determine how niacin levels are at and treated accordingly.
There are some benefits to having slightly elevated levels of niacin, namely lowering cholesterol. Niacin acts to lower the bad LDL cholesterol and raise HDL levels, which keeps cholesterol where it needs to be. Studies also show that people taking niacin in combination with cholesterol-lowering drugs have a reduced risk of experiencing a second heart attack. In relation to the skin, niacin is a common ingredient in skin care products, especially those which are promoted as anti-aging or reduce scar. The effectiveness of niacin in this arena has not been proven.
Niacin is essential for healthy body functioning, but people who tend to have too little or too much niacin in their systems should have their levels monitored closely. Most people in developed countries do not have to worry deprivation, like eating a normal balanced diet should provide the body with vitamin in sufficient amounts. People within the homeless and other economically depressed situations in developed countries as well as in the developing world who are not able to maintain a healthy diet should be monitored for pellagra and other complications of niacin deficiency. They take niacin supplements for any reason shall also monitor themselves closely to ensure that the body continues to use vitamin properly and that it does not cause any adverse side effects or damage.