Niacin (also known as Vitamin B-3, Niacinamide, nicotinic acid or nicotinamide) is a water soluble vitamin. It has to be continuously supplied in food and other sources. Excess amounts are usually passed in the urine but can be toxic.


Vitamin B-3 is necessary for the maintenance of good health. It helps to maintain normal growth and development. It helps to metabolize proteins, fats and carbohydrates. It is involved in the regulation of blood sugar, cholesterol metabolism, antioxidant mechanisms and detoxification reactions.


Symptoms of Deficiency

Loss of appetite, skin eruptions, bad breath, sleep disturbance, may worsen gout symptoms, may cause liver problems, tiredness, skin eruptions, confusion, dementia, diarrhea.


Causes of Deficiency

Poor diet, pregnancy and lactation, excessive alcohol, bowel problems.


Natural Sources

Almonds, peanuts, yeast, wild rice, split peas, peppers (red chili), Meat, fish, poultry, milk, eggs, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, whole wheat


Discuss the dosage and duration of use with the pharmacist before taking the medication. It can be taken with other medications for other conditions on the advice of a pharmacist or a doctor.


Health Canada has recommended a minimum and a maximum daily requirement for Vitamin B-3:


Minimum dose:

  • under 6 yrs - 4 mg/day (TPD 1997)
  • over 6 yrs - 6 mg/day (TPD 1997)


Upper Limit:

  • 0-12 months - Not possible to establish; source of intake should be formula and food only. (DRI 1998)
  • 1-3 years - 10 mg/day of niacin
  • 4-8 years - 15 mg/day of niacin
  • 9-13 years - 20 mg/day of niacin
  • 14-18 years - 30 mg/day of niacin
  • 19 years and older - 35 mg/day of niacin


If serious overdosage then contact the poison control center or emergency room. If you miss a dose then take it as soon as remembered, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose, and go back to the regular dosing regimen. If taken an extra dose by mistake then contact the pharmacist or a doctor.


Some of the symptoms of overdosage: Discontinue use if there is prolonged flushing, burning, tingling or itching sensation on the face, arms or chest.



Tell the pharmacist/doctor if pregnant or planning to become pregnant or if breast feeding. It is safe to use but one must discuss the dosage


Possible Side Effects

When starting to take any new medication, if one notices any side-effect, contact the physician or pharmacist:


Skin flushing, upset stomach, nausea and liver damage.



This is not an all inclusive list, discuss it with the pharmacist: 


Cholesterol medication (can be combined with other lipid-lowering drugs to potentiate the drugs effect on lowering cholesterol or triglyceride), Corticosteroids, estrogen, isoniazid, flurouracil, mercaptopurine



Store medication in a safe place at room temperature; away from heat, light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink or on top of the fridge. Out dated medications must be returned to the pharmacy for safe disposal.



Niacin can affect glucose tolerance and therefore should only be used under doctors supervision in diabetes.


Niacin should be avoided in pre-existing liver disease or elevation in liver enzymes; gout or peptic ulcers unless otherwise advices by a physician.


Should be used with caution in asthma.



It is better NOT TO USE sustained release, slow release or time release products.


Discontinue use if there is prolonged flushing, burning, tingling or itching sensation on the face, arms or chest.


Tell the pharmacist/doctor your complete medical history.


One must inform the pharmacist or doctor if taking any prescription medication, over the counter medication, herbal or alternative medications before starting any new medication, food supplement, herb or vitamin.