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Food Sources High In Vitamin B3 Niacin

Author:   Peter Sedesse MD

Vitamin B3 Niacin Daily Requirements

Vitamin B3 is commonly known and often displayed as Niacin on food labels. Vitamin B3 is found in a large variety of foods ranging from vegetables, meats, nuts and grains. While almost all foods contain some amount of Niacin, the largest quantities come from meat sources, with liver containing the highest amounts. Along with most of the B-complex vitamins, the major function of Niacin is it´s role in converting carbohydrates into useful energy. Vitamin B3 is also an important vitamin because of it´s role in digestion. Niacin is a water soluble nutrient, which means excess amounts are removed from the body during urination. Because of this, the recommended amount of 14-18mg must be consumed consistently as deficiency symptoms can begin to occur after a relatively short amount of time. One of the functions of Vitamin B3 is in the production of hair and fingernails. Because of this function, a sudden change in hair and fingernail quality is often the first symptom of a Niacin deficiency. Vegans and Vegetarians should pay close attention to their intake of this nutrient, similar to most of the B-complex vitamins.

Meat as a primary food source of Vitamin B3

Meat is the most common source of Vitamin B3, and most individuals can get their daily supply from just a small portion of meat per day. Some types of meat, particularly liver, provide very high amounts of the nutrient, but all meats provide large amounts. This includes chicken, red meat as well as fish. Because of the health risks of red meat, and the health benefits of most types of fish, it is recommended to add fish to your weekly meal plans and reduce the number of times red meat is eaten per week.

Vitamin B3 found in dairy, fruits and vegetables

There are also many foods that contain Vitamin B3 in lesser amounts. These include all types of nuts, seeds and beans. The health benefits of these three types of food, along with their large amounts of Niacin makes them an excellent choice to add some variety to your meals and snacks. Eggs, Milk and other dairy products also contain good amounts of Vitamin B3, but they do not provide as many other health benefits as the other choices mentioned. Almost all vegetables contain small amounts of Niacin, but a few random vegetables contain significantly higher amounts, these include avocados, tomatoes and carrots. As with nuts, beans and seeds, these three vegetables also have other important health benefits besides Vitamin B3 so deserve special attention when planning meals.

Whole Grain and Enriched cereals are a good source of Niacin

Niacin is also found in large amounts in the outer layers of most grains. For this reason, whole grain foods are preferred over processed foods. However, many breads and cereals that have the Vitamin B3 removed during processing, later have it added back afterwards. This is noted on food labels as enriched with Niacin.

Summary of information about Vitamin B3 Niacin food sources

Vitamin B3, Niacin, plays a very important role in energy production within the body and can often be attributed to people ´just feeling a little tired today´. While meat sources, especially liver, provide the fastest and easiest way to get the recommended 14-18mg per day, there are healthier choices such as fish, nuts, beans, avocados, tomatoes and carrots that should be used whenever possible.

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