61 years ago, Canadian psychiatrist and biochemist Dr. Abram Hoffer cared for a state-hospitalized patient diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia – a bipolar mental disorder. Through careful research and observation, Dr. Hoffer deduced that the patient was suffering from a lack of vitamin B3 in the nervous system (vitamin B3-dependency disease). After administering vitamin B3 (niacin) supplements to the patient, he was restored to a functional state within days! For this historical discovery, Dr. Hoffer earned himself the title: ‘the Pioneer of Niacin.’ Stories like the one above demonstrates that vitamin B3 is extremely powerful.
As a preface, no vitamin is more important than any other. Each vitamin has its own respective role in our bodies. They can help support our immune system, respiratory system, and other bodily functions. But today I would like to focus on vitamin B3.
What is Vitamin B3?
There are eight B vitamins. Vitamin B3 (or niacin) is responsible for breaking down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy. Without energy, it becomes very difficult to function. For instance, it is hard to be aware of what is happening around us when we are low on energy. Similarly, a lack of vitamin B3 results in symptoms that include fatigue, tiredness, headache, and even memory loss.
On the other hand, a healthy intake of Vitamin B3 can keep a person’s digestive system, nervous system, and even their skin healthy. The recommended dosage is 16 milligrams a day for males and 14 milligrams a day for nonpregnant females. Moreover, a supplement of vitamin B3 has been shown to prevent skin cancer, support the nervous system, and decrease the chances of developing Alzheimer’s.
Where can I find Vitamin B3?
Vitamin B3 is an “essential nutrient – meaning that you must obtain it from food, as your body cannot produce it on its own.” (Healthline). Fortunately, there are a variety of meal choices that provide vitamin B3. For example, one easily accessible source of niacin is tuna. It provides a person with 37.5 mg of niacin per 6 ounces of fish. This is over 100% of the recommended amount for both men and women. Lean cuts of pork, another popular choice, provides 13.6 mg of niacin per 6 ounce chop. This provides just under 50% of the recommended amount for both men and women, respectively. For those who are vegetarian, green peas is another common option. Per every cup cooked, green peas supply 3.2mg of niacin, making it one of the easiest ways to improve your vitamin B3 intake.
Below is a chart that displays the top 10 richest foods in niacin. In conclusion, the next time you visit the local grocery store, remember to purchase items that will help maintain your vitamin B3 intake – it might just save your life.