You might think the primary function of B vitamins are to offer your body ‘bonus’ benefits such as a temporary energy boost or momentary cognitive clarity. What gets lost in the hype is that B vitamins play a vital role in the health of your body. Without B vitamins, many of your body’s systems would not be able to function.
One of the most commonly studied B vitamins is niacin, also called vitamin B3. Niacin plays a role in cell signaling as well as in making and repairing DNA. Potential niacin benefits include support for cognitive health, heart health and skin health. While a severe deficiency of niacin isn’t as common in Western cultures as some regions of the world, it remains important to check that you are meeting your daily nutritional needs.
Supports Brain Function
B vitamins collectively play a very important role in brain function. For example, vitamin B1 is necessary for synthesizing fatty acids and nucleic acids. There are two flavoproteins derived from vitamin B2 that are crucial in most enzymatic processes in the body’s cells. Niacin supports brain function by forming nucleotides NAD and NADP+. These enzymes are essential for brain cell and nerve function. Taking a Niacin supplement or B vitamin complex is one way to support many processes of your brain.
There have been studies which suggest Niacin is valuable for brains recovering from different forms of trauma. The brain relies on two significant sets of blood vessels to circulate blood. The face, brain and scalp all receive blood through two sets of carotid arteries. Proper function of these vessels is important for supplying oxygen to the different parts of the brain. Niacin has been shown to support blood vessels, which is very important for recovering brains.
Supports Heart Health
Niacin has been widely studied for its role in proper circulatory function. Niacin treatments have been shown to boost levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol as well as reduce triglycerides. Studies have shown that niacin has a positive effect on oxidative stress. For everyday health, making sure your good cholesterol and triglyceride levels are in check is a significant potential niacin benefit.
Niacin plays an important role in vascular function. This vitamin supports the structure and integrity of the lining of vessels and arteries and may support normal vascular contractions. The body requires properly functioning arteries to circulate blood. Niacin has also been shown to help maintain blood pressure levels already within the normal range. Maintaining a proper blood pressure is known to help minimize cardiovascular-related health complications.
Supports Skin Health
Niacin also plays a role in your skin’s health. One negative result of low niacin levels is that your skin becomes more sensitive to UV damage. Niacin has also been studied for its potential to counteract UV damage. This vitamin plays a role in supporting the development of cells that have been exposed to UV light. Niacin can be taken orally or topically to promote skin health.
As the body ages, so does the skin. Your body’s dermis and epidermis become naturally thinner with age. As the natural aging process occurs, it is thought that niacin speeds cell turnover. Optimal skin health is not only ideal for its aesthetic benefits, but also in staving off infections that would lead to other health complications. This is because the skin is the first line of defense for the immune system and helps to prevent the intrusion of potentially harmful factors.
Niacin Side Effect and Warning
Taking a vitamin B3 supplement is generally considered to have a low risk of side effects although tingly, pins-and-needles sensations have been noticed by some users. Niacin can cause discomfort in the skin, including flushing. Thankfully, B vitamins are water soluble and therefore not stored in the body. Any excess B vitamins taken into the body can generally be easily filtered out of the bloodstream by the liver and safely excreted through the kidneys and bladder.
A balanced diet is a good place to get all of the B vitamins you need. However, taking a supplement can also be an effective way to make sure you are getting enough niacin when you don’t eat how you should. If you are looking to support your heart, brain, or skin health, it may be in your best interest to seek out niacin.