Niacin, or nicotinic acid, doesn’t only optimize body functions, but it also provides other protective health benefits. Read on to learn more about what it has to offer.
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7 Health Benefits of Niacin, Nicotinic Acid, and Nicotinamide
What Is Niacin?
Niacin, or vitamin B3, is a nutrient that helps convert food into energy. It’s a vital component of the two coenzymes:
- Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+)
- Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP+)
Both these coenzymes help regulate cellular metabolism.
Niacin has two chemical forms:
- Nicotinic acid
You can get niacin from your food or through supplements. It’s also water-soluble, so your body can naturally excrete the unused amounts.
1. Improves Cholesterol Levels
Nicotinic acid can help manage high cholesterol. Not only does it decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, but It can also increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
LDL cholesterol is also known as “bad” cholesterol. It can cause a build-up in blood vessels, which could lead to plaque and, over time, blockages.
On the other hand, HDL cholesterol is known as “good” cholesterol. It helps deliver excess cholesterol to the liver which helps the body process and excrete it.
So, to prevent serious health issues, it’s best to keep your LDL cholesterol levels down and your HDL cholesterol levels up. A nicotinic acid supplement may be able to help you do this.
2. Decreases Triglyceride Levels
Triglycerides are a form of fat you can find in your blood. If you don’t use the calories from your diet immediately, your body turns them into triglycerides.
Just like other B vitamins, nicotinic acid helps convert food into energy. Therapeutic doses of this vitamin can help lower triglyceride levels by inhibiting key enzymes.
3. May Protect Against Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes Definition: Also known as insulin-dependent diabetes. It’s an inborn, chronic condition where the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin for your body.
Insulin is a hormone that allows your body to use the sugar you get from your diet for energy. Without insulin, your cells won’t be able to get the energy they need and may begin to malfunction.
Studies suggest that nicotinamide, along with insulin injections, may be able to help lower the risk of type 1 diabetes in children. Nicotinamide can help protect the cells that create insulin which, in turn, prevents the insulin deficiency that causes type 1 diabetes.
4. Helps Improve Brain Function
Experts believe our brains need niacin for energy and optimal functioning. In fact, some of the symptoms of a niacin deficiency include mental confusion and memory loss.
On top of that, niacin deficiencies can sometimes manifest with psychiatric symptoms. One study even shows niacin may be able to help the brain heal from the damage caused by schizophrenia.
Another study shows that niacin may help improve the cognitive symptoms and synaptic plasticity of Alzheimer’s disease.
5. May Help Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases
Niacin also contains antioxidant properties which may help fight against inflammation and oxidative stress that may cause cardiovascular disease. Both contribute to the hardening of arteries which can compromise overall heart function.
6. May Improve Symptoms of Arthritis
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 22% of adults are diagnosed with arthritis, a condition where there is swelling or inflammation of the joints.
Patients who took niacinamide reports a 29% improvement in their symptoms, while patients in the placebo group reported that their symptoms worsened by 10%. Patients who also took niacinamide also reduced their pain by 13%.
There was also an improvement in their flexibility and range of motion. Experts need to do more studies on this, but the preliminary results are promising!
7. Protects Skin from Sun Damage
Sun damage is the leading external cause of skin aging. On top of that, overexposure to the sun can also increase the risk of skin cancer.
Nicotinamide contains photoprotective properties when taken orally or applied topically.
If you think you’re not getting enough vitamin B3 from your diet, a supplement is a convenient way to get your daily dose. An integrative health specialist can help you learn more about this important nutrient and how it can help you meet your health goals.
Which nicotinic acid health benefits are you most excited about? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
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