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Energy for the body due to niacin

Why is niacin so important?

Niacin from meat and fruit

Niacin belongs to the group of B vitamins. The body needs niacin for the metabolism of the brain – it regulates the blood sugar – and also for the cellular respiration, the muscles and the connective tissue. Many enzymes which are involved in the energy turnover require niacin. But niacin can do more than that: it has a positive impact on mood, sleep and heart rate. Last but not least, niacin helps to detoxify the body.

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the requirements are between 15 and 17 mg per day.

Good sources of niacin

Fish and meat are particularly rich in niacin, but eggs, wholemeal products, pulses, vegetables and fruit also contribute to the niacin supply. However, plant-derived niacin cannot be absorbed as well as niacin of animal origin. The good news is that niacin is relatively stable in heat, light and air. Only about 20% is lost during cooking. As niacin is composed of an amino acid (trypthopan), you are generally safe with products rich in protein.

Deficiency symptoms

Probably the best known deficiency disease is pellagra, what means something like “rough skin”. Pellagra was recognised in the 18th century, in regions where maize and millet were dominant food crops, both of them containing only little natural niacin. Even today, these skin diseases are common in Third World countries. In affluent societies pellagra does not occur anymore.

A deficiency may lead to sleep disturbances and digestive disorders. First signs may be a lack of appetite, combined with a dry mouth and weight loss. Dizziness, headache and slight confusion may occur.