Niacin
This gets under the skin

Niacin

Niacin is better known as vitamin B3. It has many different functions but is particularly well known for maintaining healthy mucous membranes and skin. Since skin is our largest organ, an adequate supply of nutrients is particularly important for you and your children and should not be missing from a balanced diet.

What exactly is niacin?

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Vitamins are extremely important for maintaining bodily functions. However, in most cases your body cannot produce them itself. But niacin is a bit different. Vitamin B3 generally belongs to the vitamin B complex, which the body can produce itself.

But what is niacin really? Vitamin B3 comes in two forms: nicotinic acid (vitamin B3) and nicotinamide, an amide of nicotinic acid that the body can convert into niacin. This B vitamin can also come from the amino acid “tryptophan”, which is found in many foods.

Niacin - Effects & tasks

[Translate to Englisch:] Eltern bespaßen Kleinkind in der Küche

The body mainly stores niacin in the liver. It supports normal nervous system and psychological functions, while helping to maintain normal skin and mucous membranes. Niacin also helps reduce tiredness and fatigue by supporting the energy metabolism.

Vitamin B3 daily requirement

[Translate to Englisch:] Geerntete Kartoffeln

The daily requirement depends on age and gender. The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) gives the following reference values for niacin intake for children and adults:

Age Equivalent of niacin mg/day - Men Equivalent of niacin mg/day - Women
Between 1 and 4 years 8 mg 8 mg
Between 4 and 7 years 9 mg 9 mg
Between 7 and 10 years 11 mg 10 mg
Between 10 and 13 years 13 mg 11 mg
Between 13 and 15 years 15 mg 13 mg
Between 15 and 19 years 17 mg 13 mg
Between 19 and 25 years 16 mg 13 mg
Between 25 and 51 years 15 mg 12 mg
Between 51 and 65 years 15 mg 11 mg
65 and above 14 mg 11 mg
Pregnant women in 2nd trimester   14 mg
Pregnant women in 3rd trimester   16 mg
Breastfeeding women   16 mg

How to prevent niacin deficiency?

If you are careful about eating varied and healthy foods, both a deficiency and excess of niacin is unlikely. In fact, niacin deficiency is unlikely in general since your body can synthesise it itself. However, an unbalanced diet can promote niacin deficiency in otherwise healthy people.

Food with niacin

[Translate to Englisch:] Kind betrachtet Kartoffeln in Supermarkt

Vitamin B3 can be produced independently by the body from the amino acid “tryptophane”. However, to cover you and your children’s daily requirements, you should also take vitamin B3 in your diet. People who eat a balanced diet and comparatively healthy lives can cover their daily requirements relatively easily.

Niacin is relatively resistant to heat for prolonged storage compared to other vitamins. However, it is water-soluble, which is why a certain proportion of it passes from foods into water during cooking, e.g. with vegetables. Many foods contain niacin; however, your body can process vitamin B3 from animal food much better than from plants. Furthermore, the niacin content of animal products is usually higher.

Food Niacin per 100 g
Chicken liver 12 mg
Oyster mushroom 10 mg
Tuna 8,5 mg
Beef (pure muscle meat) 7,5 mg
Cultivated mushrooms 5,2 mg
Saithe 4 mg
Lentils 2,5 mg

Average values according to Souci, Fachmann, Kraut: Food Composition and Nutrition Tables (7th ed.). Munich: C.H. Beck. 2008

More about vitamins & nutrients

Vitamins & minerals

Want to know what all the valuable micronutrients do, what foods have them and how much you need? Find more information here.

Find out more

B vitamins

The different members of the vitamin B complex perform different tasks – they take care of energy balance, the nervous system and many other processes in the body.

Find out more

Biotin

The many different members of the vitamin B complex with their different properties play an important role for your energy balance, the nervous system and other components of a healthy organism.

Find out more

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