Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin that is a vital component of the human diet. It is also known as vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid and can be found in various plant and animal tissues. It plays a role in metabolism, energy production, blood circulation, brain health and sexual health. Below is an outline of some of the benefits of Niacin.
- Aids in enzyme and hormone production. Niacin helps regulate the production and function of more than 50 enzymes used by the body to release energy and make fat from carbohydrates. It’s also required in the production of sex hormones and other chemicals.
- Helps maintain sexual health. Niacin is known to increase mucus secretion in the mouth and sexual organs, which can improve sexual experience. Both men and women are advised to take niacin because it is good for blood flow, which in turn leads to better sexual stimulation. Additionally, niacin has the ability to imitate the natural flush that men and women get from sexual excitement and arousal. This is the reason why the term “Niacin flush” exists.
- Prevents diabetes in children. Traditionally, niacin has been known to raise the level of glucose in the blood, making it an incompatible treatment option for diabetes. However, recent studies have shown that the administration of this vitamin in low doses can help in diabetes management, especially in children. The explanation for this is that niacin helps increase the level of healthier high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the blood, which in turn reduces the level of triglycerides and unhealthy low-density lipoproteins. In addition, niacin improves blood lipids, which complement statin therapy in type-2 diabetes.
- Boosts blood supply and circulation. Niacin is an essential component in the production of red blood cells. It also opens up blood vessels, which improves blood flow and circulation in the body. This also helps maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Helps maintain a healthy brain. Niacin boosts blood supply and circulation, which is necessary for the brain to function. It also helps control homocysteine, an amino acid that damages blood vessels in the brain. Studies have also connected sufficient intake of niacin to the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In some studies, niacin has been proven effective in treating migraine and maintaining psychological well being.
- Aids in energy production. One of the key components in metabolizing fat, protein and carbohydrates is niacin. This metabolic process is responsible for producing energy needed by the body to carry out its functions.
- Helps in detoxification. Niacin is a vasodilator, meaning it dilates blood vessels in the body, including capillaries. By dilating the blood vessels, the toxins they carry, including bad cholesterol, get flushed out of the body. As such, you can find many detoxification programs based on this principle.
These benefits clearly show that niacin plays a role in remaining healthy. However, instead of using niacin supplements, it’s better to increase your intake of niacin by taking more niacin-rich foods such as lean meats, liver, poultry, milk, canned salmon, and leafy green vegetables.