Vitamin B3 - niacin dosage

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

David Tomen
David Tomen
17 minute read
Vitamin B3 is known for increased alertness, clarity, focus, memory, enhanced mood and energy, is a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger, lowers LDL-cholesterol, increases HDL-cholesterol and lowers triglycerides

Vitamin B3 (Niacin, nicotinic acid, 3-pyridine-carboxylic acid) is one of eight B-Vitamins. Niacin is a precursor to the coenzymes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP).

NAD is needed to catabolize fats, carbohydrates, proteins and alcohol. And NAD is involved in cell signaling and DNA repair.

NAD also converts to NADH which is the primary carrier of electrons in the transfer of food from your diet into energy. This energy is created as adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

ATP is produced in mitochondria in each of your cells. Not enough NADH leads to ATP depletion, which can eventually lead to cell death.[i]

The Russian-designed nootropic Picamilon is a combination of niacin and GABA. And is used to improve memory, concentration, focus, relieve anxiety and lower blood pressure.

Studies have shown that supplementing with niacin improves cognitive function, enhances cellular energy, boosts cerebral circulation, increases endurance, switches ‘off’ aging genes, and extends life span.

Niacin helps:

  • Protect brain cells. Niacin as a precursor to NAD and NADH repairs cell and DNA damage. And stimulates your immune system. Niacin boosts the production of Nitric Oxide (NO) which relaxes blood vessels in your brain increasing cerebral blood flow. And niacin acts as an antioxidant helping to eliminate free radicals that can damage brain cells.[ii]
  • Brain energy. As a precursor to NADH, niacin provides electrons for ATP synthesis within our mitochondria for cellular energy. Low levels of niacin result in brain fog, slow mental processing, and cognitive decline.
  • Neurotransmitters. Niacin affects cognitive function by stimulating the production of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.[iii] These neurotransmitters are involved in memory, learning, cognition, recall and mood.


Vitamin B3 (Niacin, nicotinic acid, 3-pyridine-carboxylic acid) is precursor to the coenzymes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP).

vitamin b3 niacin chemical structure
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Niacin is found in, and critical for the health of every cell in your body. NADH is the reduced form of NAD (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide), making it the “active” form which can donate electrons.

NADH is the primary carrier of electrons from glucose and lactate for ATP synthesis. ATP is the fuel source produced within mitochondria. The power supply in each of your brain cells. So you need niacin to produce NADH to transfer the energy from the food you eat into a type of energy your body can use.

Niacin naturally occurs in foods like eggs, fish, meat, milk, peanuts, mushrooms, green vegetables, and yeast.

Your body also naturally synthesizes niacin from the amino acid tryptophan you get from food. Amino acid tryptophan synthesis requires Vitamin B6, riboflavin and an enzyme containing iron.

But only about 2% of dietary tryptophan is converted to niacin. Not nearly enough that your body requires which is why supplementation is needed.

Niacin supplementation has been used to treat addiction, ADHD, arthritis, Alzheimer’s Disease, depression, memory loss and schizophrenia. And for detoxing nearly every foreign substance that can find its way into your fat cells.

As a nootropic, niacin helps boost cognition, memory and neuroplasticity.

vitamin b3 niacin improves memory

How does Niacin work in the brain?

Niacin boosts brain health in several ways. But two in particular stand out.

  1. Niacin increases cellular energy. Niacin is the precursor to NAD. NAD acts as an electron carrier, meaning it can accept and donate electrons to various enzymes involved in energy metabolism.

NAD is transformed into NADH. NADH then donates its electron to the electron transport chain where a number of ATP molecules are formed.

Using niacin as a supplement increases the available NAD molecules that can take part in energy metabolism. And increasing the amount of energy in each cell.[iv]

By providing the means for ATP synthesis, niacin is involved in cognition, focus, concentration, memory, and processing speed. And niacin plays an important role in mediating brain aging and tissue damage. Even decreasing the damage done by strokes.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston studied the neuroprotective effects of CoQ10 and niacin in mouse models of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Impaired energy metabolism has been associated with some symptoms of PD.

Researchers administered MPTP which is poison to neurons. It disrupts the energy metabolism of neurons that release dopamine. The affected dopamine cells are also unable to release as much glutamate which results in decreased dopamine in people with PD.

The combination of CoQ10 and niacin protected against both mild and moderate dopamine depletion. The researchers concluded that CoQ10 and niacin improve mitochondrial energy production.[v]

  1. Niacin increases Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). BDNF has been termed “Miracle-Gro for the brain”. Higher levels of BDNF have been associated with increased intelligence, mood, productivity and memory.

Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit tested the hypothesis that niacin could increase synaptic plasticity and axon growth in stroke patients.

Male Wistar rats were purposely given a stroke and then treated with extended release niacin (Niaspan) for 14 days. Niacin increased synaptic plasticity and axon growth as a result of restored BDNF.[vi]

Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that niacin stimulated growth hormone.[vii]

How things go bad

Niacin deficiency is considered rare by government health agencies, particularly in the West. But even mild niacin deficiency can have a negative impact on your health and cognition.niacin reduces fatigue

Mild niacin deficiency can be caused by digestive problems that decreases the amount of Vitamin B3 (niacin) or tryptophan that your body absorbs.

If you are gluten intolerant you’re at a higher risk of being niacin deficient. If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s Disease you have an increased chance of niacin deficiency.

Excessive alcohol consumption, birth control pills, anorexia, and those on a vegan diet can be deficient in niacin.

↓ Energy levels decline

↑ Fatigue increases

↓ Anxiety, hyperactivity, depression, headaches and hallucinations

↓ Metabolism declines

↑ Insomnia increases

↑ Irritability increases

Some experts believe a lack of niacin and other B-Vitamins is at least partially responsible for the large increase in mental health disorders and violent crimes in recent decades.[viii]

All of these niacin deficiency-related changes are contributing factors to the neurodegenerative diseases of aging, age-related cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

But even if things haven’t degenerated to such a debilitating level, niacin can help.

Niacin Benefits

Research has shown that people with low niacin levels are far more vulnerable to addiction, depression, heart disease, schizophrenia, and other chronic conditions. Low niacin levels can happen at any age. Even at birth.Niacin lowers cholesterol

Niacin can improve cholesterol levels. Supplementing with niacin has been shown to help those who are at increased risk for heart attacks, stroke and other forms of heart disease.

Niacin can help reduce hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and assist in avoiding heart disease. And niacin helps reduce inflammation.

Niacin plays a role in diabetes treatment because it helps balance blood sugar levels.

Niacin helps to reduce skin inflammation, flare ups, irritation, redness and for treating severe cases of acne.

Niacin can help protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia.[ix] Niacin supplementation is also associated with decreased risk for age-related cognitive decline, memory loss, migraines, depression, motion sickness, insomnia and even alcohol dependence.

Niacin is also used for treating and to help prevent schizophrenia.

Studies have shown that when taking niacin ADHD risks are lowered.

Niacin is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED) because it acts as a vasodilator that helps improve blood flow to the penis.

How does Niacin feel?

Niacin supplementation can help relieve depression and anxiety. Circulation should improve and you’ll feel like you have more energy.

People taking statins to control cholesterol report severe side effects. But when adding niacin to their supplement stack, most experience a reduction in blood pressure. And some have stopped taking statins as a result.

Those dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) report combining niacin with St. John’s wort reduced OCD symptoms. And was better than using the SSRI Prozac®, or the benzodiazepine Ativan® (lorazepam).

Taken before bedtime some neurohackers report a reduction in insomnia.

Lower back pain and hip pain may be reduced with niacin supplementation.

Niacin can help reduce severe acne and other skin inflammation problems.

vitamin b3 niacin detox

Niacin Clinical Research

Niacin helps Reduce Bad Cholesterol

Therapeutic doses of niacin have been shown to reduce serum cholesterol. Niacin significantly increases HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol), decreases LPL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides. Changes in blood lipid profile considered to be protective of your heart.

Low levels of HDL-cholesterol are one of the major risk factors for coronary heart disease. And an increase in HDL levels is associated with a reduction of that risk.

The Coronary Drug Project was conducted between 1966 and 1975 to assess the long-term efficacy and safety of niacin in 8,241 men aged 30 to 64 years old. All men had experienced some type of heart problem.

Compared to placebo, patients who took 3 grams of niacin daily experienced an average 10% reduction in total blood cholesterol, a 26% decrease in triglycerides, a 27% decrease in recurrent heart attacks, and a 26% decrease in stroke.[x]

Niacin for Detox

If you are dealing with chronic health issues, chances are good you could benefit from a detoxification program. Even if you’re feeling perfectly ‘healthy’ you could likely use a good detox.

Simply living in our modern society exposes us to thousands of chemicals that have the potential to get into our bodies from the food we eat, air we breathe, water we drink and things we touch.

One study done in Portland, Oregon investigated the effects of a 7-day detox program on well-being in 25 disease-free, healthy participants. The 7-day detox produced a statistically significant (47%) reduction in the Metabolic Screening Questionnaire scores. And a 23% increase in liver detox capacity.[xi] Even healthy people feel better after detox.

In 1977, L. Ron Hubbard developed his “Sweat Program” to facilitate detox. The program includes niacin, sauna and a supplement regimen to restore critical vitamins and minerals to the newly detoxed body.

This niacin detox program has been used to treat Gulf War Syndrome, the fire fighters and first responders to the 9/11 attacks in New York[xii], and is used by hundreds of naturopaths.

Niacin affects adipocytes which causes an increase in free fatty acid (FFA) release from adipose tissue (body fat). Release of free fatty acids releases fat-stored toxins for excretion from the body.

Niacin also causes prostaglandin D2 release which dilates small blood vessels in the skin. The same reaction responsible for the “niacin flush”. This dilation increases the movement of xenobiotics (foreign chemicals) for excretion through sweating (which is where the sauna comes into the detox program).

Niacin is also a precursor to NADH which regenerates the master antioxidant glutathione. Niacin reduces inflammation by decreasing reactive oxygen species and inflammatory cytokines.

Niacin helps treat Depression

Niacin is especially helpful if you are taking antidepressants. Drugs to treat depression have an anti-inflammatory effect, including inhibition of the rate-limiting enzyme of the kynurenine pathway. This metabolic pathway is involved in the production of NAD and NADH.

The inhibition of this pathway increases serotonin as more tryptophan becomes available for serotonin synthesis. More serotonin helps decrease depression.

But this also leaves less tryptophan available for niacin synthesis. Which causes depression and basically cancels out the benefits of using antidepressants.[xiii]

So if you’re on SSRI’s you may want to add niacin to your stack.

Niacin for the Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction

Dyslipidemia is the name of the condition involving high LDL-cholesterol (bad), high triglycerides (bad), and low HDL-cholesterol (bad). Dyslipidemia is closely related to erectile dysfunction (ED).

Researchers in Hong Kong ran a placebo-controlled trial with 160 male patients with ED and dyslipidemia. Half the men with ED received 1500 mg of niacin, and the other half received a placebo daily for 12 weeks.

The main outcome of the study was a significant improvement in erectile function. And the researchers concluded that “niacin alone can improve erectile function in men suffering from moderate to severe ED”.[xiv]

Niacin Recommended Dosage

Niacin is naturally produced in your body from tryptophan. And you get niacin from eating certain foods including beef, chicken, tuna, sunflower seeds, salmon, green peas, turkey, and mushrooms. So niacin is considered non-toxic and safe.Vitamin B3 (niacin) improves erectile dysfunction

Note that higher doses of niacin are usually divided into evenly split doses 2 – 4 times per day. So 2 gram of niacin daily would be 500 mg 4-times per day.

  • Prevention of heart disease: niacin 4 grams per day
  • Lowering bad cholesterol and boosting good cholesterol: niacin 4 grams per day
  • To slow the progression of newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes: Niacinamide 25 mg/kg of body weight daily
  • Preventing or treating Vitamin B3 (niacin) deficiency: 50 – 100 mg per day
  • To treat pellagra (severe niacin deficiency): 300 – 500 mg daily
  • For treating osteoarthritis: Niacinamide 3 grams per day
  • For reduced risk of cataracts: 44 mg of niacin per day
  • Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease: 100 mg per day. Note that there is no reliable evidence that niacin can prevent Alzheimer’s although there is plenty of evidence that Alzheimer’s patients consistently show low niacin levels.
  • Treating erectile dysfunction (ED): 500 mg 3-times per day
  • Treating schizophrenia: 3 grams of niacin and 3 grams of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) daily[xv]

Niacin Side Effects

Standard niacin (nicotinic acid) is naturally produced in your body. And considered non-toxic.

Niacin can cause low blood pressure so if you are on blood pressure drugs be cautious about supplementing with niacin.

Niacin may decrease the effectiveness of diabetes medication because long-term use of niacin can increase blood sugar. So you may need to increase your diabetes meds.

Statins are notorious for causing muscle wasting. And when combined with niacin it may increase this muscle wasting problem. You may want to cut back on your statins as you increase your niacin dose. Many stop taking statins altogether when using niacin.

Niacin (nicotinic acid) and sustained-release niacin causes “flushing” in many people. Here I address how to reduce or eliminate the side effect of niacin flushing.

Preventing Niacin Flushing

Regular immediate-release niacin (nicotinic acid) causes “flushing” in many people. And they avoid supplementing with niacin as a result.

Standard niacin flushing results from activation of the niacin receptor G protein-coupled receptor 109A (GPR109A) in skin Langerhans cells. This leads to the production of prostaglandins, including prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which act on receptors in the capillaries (small blood vessels in your skin).[xvi]

This flushing sensation comes from blood vessel dilation and manifests itself as redness, warmth of the skin and tingling or itching. It happens rapidly and lasts for about 1 hour.

This flushing sensation is NOT an allergic reaction. And only feels uncomfortable. Here are some strategies to avoid niacin flushing.

First, “slow-release” niacin may prevent flushing. But is NOT the answer because it will not provide the LDL-cholesterol (bad) lowering benefits. And can be toxic to your liver when used long-term.[xvii]

Inositol hexanicotinate is commonly referred to as no-flush niacin or flush-free niacin and is preferred by many neurohackers.

Even though I’ve seen a couple of clinical studies claiming this version of niacin has no effect on lipid profiles when it comes to cholesterol[xviii], user reviews consistently report the opposite.

They do not experience flushing with Inositol hexanicotinate even at high doses, and their cholesterol and triglyceride levels all benefited and came within a healthy range.

A newer version of “extended-release” niacin called Niaspan® does not produce the flushing effect. And has been shown to have the same effects on good cholesterol and triglycerides as instant-release niacin.[xix] Niaspan® is prescription-only and is now available as a prescription generic at lower cost.

One effective way to reduce flushing with instant-release niacin and extended-release niacin is to take a 325 mg aspirin tablet 30 minutes prior to taking your niacin.[xx]

You can also try splitting your dose of niacin into smaller doses taken throughout the day. Flushing will be reduced if not completely eliminated. And long-term niacin users note that flushing goes away after about a week of long-term niacin use.

Type of Niacin to Buy

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) is not stored in your body and must be ingested daily from food or as a supplement. Niacin as a supplement comes in several forms:Vitamin B3 - niacin dosage

  • Niacin (nicotinic acid, (pyridine-3-carboxylic acid) or ‘free-form’ nicotinic acid even at large doses of 3 or 4 grams are nearly completely absorbed by adults. This version causes ‘flushing’ above 50 mg which can be avoided. Refer to the “Side Effects” section of this article on niacin. Doses above 1500 mg per day can be toxic to your liver.
  • Niacinamide (nicotinic acid amide) has a similar profile to that of free-form niacin. But unlike free form niacin does not produce a flushing effect. Doses above 3 grams per day can be toxic to your liver.
  • Slow-release niacin is nicotinic acid using an ion exchange or wax matrix developed to slowly release niacin to avoid the flushing effect. Liver toxicity has been shown in doses above 500 mg of extended-release niacin.
  • Inositol hexanicotinate (IH) is an “extended-release niacin” sold as “Flush Free Niacin” and has 6 molecules of niacin covalently bonded to one molecule of inositol. The IH version of niacin does not produce a flushing effect. Studies show that an average of 70% of the dose you take gets absorbed by your body.

Studies show that the benefits to lowering bad cholesterol with the IH form of niacin are not nearly as effective as free-from niacin.[xxi] But user reviews are the opposite of these clinical findings. No toxicity is associated with high doses of IH.

Slo-Niacin®, is sold over the counter. Niaspan® is an extended-release niacin formula sold as a prescription drug.

Note: Both slow-release niacin and extended-release niacin (inositol hexanicotinate) are marketed and labeled as “Flush-Free Niacin”. But they are not the same and you should avoid slow-release niacin.

Slow-release niacin causes liver toxicity at relatively low doses and does not provide the lipid balancing effects like free-form niacin and extended-release niacin.

Most multivitamins also include some form of Vitamin B3 (niacin) in their formula. But many of these multis don’t contain enough for optimum health. And many have an inferior isolated or synthetic version of the nutrient.

The Performance Lab® NutriGenesis Multi offers a nature-identical form of Vitamin B3 (niacin) and is now my favorite daily multivitamin/mineral supplement.

I prefer the Performance Lab® multi because it’s more potent, it’s biologically active and I’ve found to be a far more effective multi compared to every other multivitamin supplement I’ve ever used.

Performance Lab® uses their own patented NutriGenesis® vitamins and minerals which are grown on probiotic, plant and yeast cultures in a state-of-the-art lab.

Nootropics Expert Recommendation

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1000 mg 3-times per day

Nootropics Expert Tested and ApprovedI recommend using “extended-release” Niacin (Inositol hexanicotinate) as a nootropic supplement.

Your body does make some Niacin on its own. And you can get it by eating meat, poultry and fish. But studies have shown we don’t get an adequate supply of Niacin from food sources.

Niacin is particularly helpful for vegetarians because very little Niacin is available from vegetables.

Niacin is especially helpful for those suffering Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and ADHD.

I suggest starting with a dose of 500 mg daily. And Niacin is a great compliment to a stack including any nootropic. Do your best to use either free-form niacin if you can tolerate the flush. Or even better, use an extended-release version of niacin that has no flush and no associated toxicity.

You need to provide your brain with the nutrients including niacin needed to create ATP within brain cell mitochondria. Or neurons start to break down from the inside. Signs that you’re lacking adequate Niacin is brain fog, slow thinking, fatigue and low endurance.

Some clinics in the USA and other countries are using Niacin therapy as a treatment for addiction, anxiety, depression, chronic stress and even schizophrenia.

I recommend starting with a low dose of Niacin until you build a tolerance to avoid the niacin “flush”. Increase your dose every few days until you get to the dose you find gives you the most cognitive benefit.

At the very minimum every neurohacker should be using a multivitamin every day that includes Vitamin B3 (niacin). The best multi I’ve found and use every day is the Performance Lab® NutriGenesis Multi for men or women.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may also contain other affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

[i] Mills J.C., Nelson D., Erecińska M., Pittman R.N. “Metabolic and energetic changes during apoptosis in neural cells.” Journal of Neurochemistry. 1995 Oct;65(4):1721-30. (source)

[ii] Ying W. “NAD+ and NADH in neuronal death.” Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology. 2007 Sep;2(3):270-5. (source)

[iii] Swerdlow R.H. “Is NADH effective in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease?” Drugs Aging. 1998 Oct;13(4):263-8. (source)

[iv] Liou S. “Nicotinamide” Stanford University Retrieved September 25, 2016 (source)

[v] Schulz J.B., Henshaw D.R., Matthews R.T., Beal M.F. “Coenzyme Q10 and nicotinamide and a free radical spin trap protect against MPTP neurotoxicity.” Experimental Neurology. 1995 Apr;132(2):279-83. (source)

[vi] Cui X., Chopp M., Zacharek A., Roberts C., Buller B., Ion M., Chen J. “Niacin treatment of stroke increases synaptic plasticity and axon growth in rats.” Stroke. 2010 Sep;41(9):2044-9 (source)

[vii] Quabbe H.J., Luyckx A.S., L’age M., Schwarz C. “Growth hormone, cortisol, and glucagon concentrations during plasma free fatty acid depression: different effects of nicotinic acid and an adenosine derivative (BM 11.189).” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 1983 Aug;57(2):410-4. (source)

[viii] Onusic S. “Violent Behavior: A Solution in Plain Sight” The Weston Price Foundation April 22, 2013 (source)

[ix] Morris M.C., Evans D.A., Bienias J.L., Scherr P.A., Tangney C.C., Hebert L.E., Bennett D.A., Wilson R.S., Aggarwal N. “Dietary niacin and the risk of incident Alzheimer’s disease and of cognitive decline.” Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. 2004 Aug;75(8):1093-9. (source)

[x] Canner P.L., Berge K.G., Wenger N.K., Stamler J., Friedman L., Prineas R.J., Friedewald W. “Fifteen year mortality in Coronary Drug Project patients: long-term benefit with niacin.” Journal of American College of Cardiology. 1986 Dec;8(6):1245-55. (source)

[xi] MacIntosh A., Ball K. “The effects of a short program of detoxification in disease-free individuals.” Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2000 Jul;6(4):70-6. (source)

[xii] Cecchini M, Root D, Rachunow J, Gelb P. “Chemical Exposures at the World Trade Center Use of the Hubbard Sauna Detoxification Regimen to Improve the Health Status of New York City Rescue Workers Exposed to Toxicants.” Townsend Letter. April 2006;263:58-65. (source)

[xiii] Viljoen M., Swanepoel A., Bipath P. “Antidepressants may lead to a decrease in niacin and NAD in patients with poor dietary intake.” Medical Hypotheses. 2015 Mar;84(3):178-82 (source)

[xiv] Ng C.F., Lee C.P., Ho A.L., Lee V.W. “Effect of niacin on erectile function in men suffering erectile dysfunction and dyslipidemia.” Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2011 Oct;8(10):2883-93 (source)

[xv] Hoffer L.J. “Vitamin Therapy in Schizophrenia” Israeli Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences Vol 45 No. 1 (2008) 3–10 (source)

[xvi] Kamanna V.S., Ganji S.H., Kashyap M.L. “The mechanism and mitigation of niacin-induced flushing” International Journal of Clinical Practice. 2009 Sep; 63(9): 1369–1377. (source)

[xvii] McKenney J.M., Proctor J.D., Harris S., Chinchili V.M. “A comparison of the efficacy and toxic effects of sustained- vs immediate-release niacin in hypercholesterolemic patients.” JAMA. 1994 Mar 2;271(9):672-7. (source)

[xviii] Norris R.B. “”Flush-free niacin”: dietary supplement may be “benefit-free”. Preventive Cardiology. 2006 Winter;9(1):64-5. (source)

[xix] Knopp R.H., Alagona P., Davidson M., Goldberg A.C., Kafonek S.D., Kashyap M., Sprecher D., Superko H.R., Jenkins S., Marcovina S. “Equivalent efficacy of a time-release form of niacin (Niaspan) given once-a-night versus plain niacin in the management of hyperlipidemia.” Metabolism. 1998 Sep;47(9):1097-104. (source)

[xx] Jungnickel P.W., Maloley P.A., Vander Tuin E.L., Peddicord T.E., Campbell J.R. “Effect of two aspirin pretreatment regimens on niacin-induced cutaneous reactions.” Journal of General Internal Medicine. 1997 Oct;12(10):591-6. (source)

[xxi] “Niacin: Nicotinic Acid, Nicotinamide, and Inositol Hexanicotinate” Vitamin and Mineral Safety 3rd Edition. Council for Responsible Nutrition (source)

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Join The Discussion - 216 comments

June 17, 2024

Hello David, I take Life Extension BioActive B complex containing Vitamin B3 (as nicotinamide and nicotinic acid)-100 mg a day and Life Extension No flush Niacin (IH) containing 640g of Niacin and 160g of Inositol. According to your recommendations above it looks like as safe dose but I have a fatty liver (NAFLD) and also a family history of CVD/stroke. Do you think it is safe for me to take these supplements long term? I take B3 (and Q10) for CFS. Should I take Q10 in the morning and B3 at night for insomnia?

    David Tomen
    June 17, 2024

    Sveta, those are considered safe dosages for niacin. But keep an eye on your liver numbers which I suggest doing anyway when using supplements. I get my labs done every 4 months.

      June 19, 2024

      Thank you, David. I am a little bit confused. Tryptophan is a precursor to Niacin, and Niacin can be liver toxic at some/high dosages, does it mean that Tryptophan is the same regarding liver toxicity? If I start taking L-tryptophan for my sleep instead of Niacin, would it be the same effect but better for my liver?

        David Tomen
        June 20, 2024

        Sveta, only high doses of niacin can be liver toxic. As long as you keep it under the maximum dose which depends on the form you are using you’ll be fine.

        Niacin is needed to produce Tryptophan. It is NOT toxic to your liver. But if you don’t have enough niacin in your system that Tryptophan will be used to make niacin. Instead of helping calm you or help you sleep. So, take a reasonable dose of niacin once or twice during the day and then take Tryptophan before bed. All you need is 50 mg niacin twice per day.

Wendy Herman
May 23, 2024

I am confused. It states that Niacin (nicotinic acid, (pyridine-3-carboxylic acid) – Doses above 1500 mg per day can be toxic to your liver. 3-4 grams per day is 3,000-4,000 mg per day! So you take it for all the health benefits but will have to worry about a liver side effects? Helping one problem, but causing another?

    David Tomen
    May 23, 2024

    Wendy I suggest you read those two sentences more carefully. I said “‘free-form’ nicotinic acid even at large doses of 3 or 4 grams are nearly completely absorbed by adults.” But doses above 1,500 mg per day are toxic to your liver. As long as you keep your dose below 1,500 mg per day you should be fine. IF you can stand the flush. Unless you are treating a specific condition you don’t need any more than 100 mg per day split into two doses of 50 mg each.

    Or use Inositol hexanicotinate instead.

patt lennon
May 21, 2024

Hey David:
Just an FYI, new research about Niacin. Does not define how much is too much but you might find this interesting:

    David Tomen
    May 23, 2024

    Good info Patt. Like any supplement, using more than the recommended dose is not a good idea. While that article is not peer-reviewed and provable, if more of this info becomes available from a reliable source I may need to update my niacin dosage recommendations.

January 26, 2024

Does Niacin Have Much More Benefits than Niacinamide?
I read that niacinamide alone is not enough for a person, we also need niacin.
So niacin affects more functions in the body besides flushing?
Niacinamide may not have the same benefits for the brain.

    David Tomen
    January 26, 2024

    Brad, Niacinamide (nicotinic acid amide) has a similar profile to that of free-form niacin. But unlike free form niacin does not produce a flushing effect. You safely use up to 3,000 mg of niacinamide and get the benefits of regular benefits of niacin.

      April 7, 2024

      I get a much better effect from using nicotinic acid, redness removes anxiety, paranoia and helps me relax and gives me energy. And isn’t nicotinic acid more effective than niacinamide in lowering cholesterol?
      For some reason, niacinamide seems inferior to me… Isn’t niacinamide produced from nicotinic acid in subsequent metabolism? Or is it the big expenses of his predecessors?

        David Tomen
        April 8, 2024

        Brad, Niacinamide is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. And is naturally found in yeast, meat, milk, and green vegetables. There is nothing “inferior” about it.

December 30, 2023

The fact that niacin promotes the production of prostaglandins, does this mean increased inflammation in the body?

    David Tomen
    January 1, 2024

    John, Niacin stimulates prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) release in humans (Hanson et al, 2010; Song & FitzGerald, 2013), which plays a central role in the niacin‐induced flushing. That flushing sensation is not considered inflammation.

November 26, 2023

Hello David,
Is niacin/ niacinamide also helpful for ADD?
If yes, what dose?

    David Tomen
    November 26, 2023

    Patricia, Niacin stimulates the production of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin which are all involved in managing ADHD symptoms. Dosage depends on the form you use. But no matter which form you likely do no need any more than 100 mg per day.

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