March 12, 2018
Niacin: also known as vitamin B3, is an essential nutrient for energy, longevity and DNA repair pathways in our system.
It is a water soluble vitamin that we use in the production of NAD, nicotinomide adenine dinucleotide that is phosphorylated and reduced into actionable forms in the body.
NAD is a critical coenzyme in over 400 reactions in the body. The most important of which is the oxidative phosphorylation cascade to produce energy in the cell. As we break down fats, sugars and proteins into energy, NAD donates electrons to make the reaction go. It is also used in the production of fatty acids and cholesterol.
NAD is involved in the activity of PARP enzymes that are essential for DNA repair and programmed cell death. This all leads to the knowledge that niacin is critical for cancer prevention. There is preliminary data that niacin protects our skin from sunlight damage.
Niacin is most famous for its lipid lowering effects to prevent coronary artery disease. It has been shown in many studies to help alter our fat carrying
molecule profile towards a more favorable type of large and fluffy lipoproteins.
Newer research is showing that NAD is involved in a class of genes called sirtuins, anti aging genes. These genes encode for enzymes that alter proteins during production and thus cause age prolonging effects. This activity is enhanced during intermittent fasting. ( I highly recommend this type of fasting - see this podcast).
Niacin deficiency is deadly and called pellagra. It presents with digestive, skin and neurologic dysregulation. The 3 D's of dermatitis, dementia and diarrhea. Skin rashes are on sun exposed areas and are thick, scaly and brown pigmented. Patients get a bright red tongue and complain of vomiting and abdominal pain. The symptoms progress to headaches, memory loss and fatigue.
There are no known serious side effects of excessive niacin intake. Many people flush, fell hot and turn red, when consuming high doses for cardiac cholesterol control. Taking the metabolite nicotinamide will avert the flush symptoms.
Food sources of B3 are predominantly from animal flesh and legumes. The US government has been fortifying breads and cereals for years as an added source.
Most adults need 12 to 16 mg/day. Incrementally less for kids. This nutrient is easily obtained from a anti inflammatory diet.
People at risk for insufficiency or deficiency have: alcoholism, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, HIV, eating disorders, celiac disease, heart disease and certain drugs including isoniazid, anti cancer immunosuppressants like 6MP.
*With many of these micronutrients, you will see a pattern that the brain, gut and skin are often affected. These highly metabolic and rapid cell turnover organs are most susceptible to insufficiency states that occur with a modern human processed, government subsidized diet that promotes gut dysfunction, malabsorption and inflammation.