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All about: Niacin (Vitamin B 3)

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Some commonly used brand names are:

In the U.S.—

  • Niacor 1
  • Nicolar 1
  • Nicotinex Elixir 1
  • Slo-Niacin 1

In Canada—

  • Novo-Niacin 1

Other commonly used names are:

Nicotinamide

Nicotinic acid

Vitamin B 3

Note:

For quick reference, the following products are numbered to match the corresponding brand names.

This information applies to the following products:
1. Niacin (nye-a-SIN)§
2. Niacinamide (nye-a-SIN-a-mide)§
‡ Generic name product may be available in the U.S.
§ Generic name product may be available in Canada

Category

  • Nutritional supplement, vitamin

Description

Vitamins (VYE-ta-mins) are compounds that you must have for growth and health. They are needed in small amounts only and are usually available in the foods that you eat. Niacin and niacinamide are necessary for many normal functions of the body, including normal tissue metabolism. They may have other effects as well.

Lack of niacin may lead to a condition called pellagra. Pellagra causes diarrhea, stomach problems, skin problems, sores in the mouth, anemia (weak blood), and mental problems. Your health care professional may treat this by prescribing niacin for you.

Some conditions may increase your need for niacin. These include:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes)
  • Diarrhea (prolonged)
  • Fever (prolonged)
  • Hartnup disease
  • Infection (prolonged)
  • Intestinal problems
  • Liver disease
  • Mouth or throat sores
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Pancreas disease
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Stress (prolonged)
  • Surgical removal of stomach

Increased need for niacin should be determined by your health care professional.

Claims that niacin is effective for treatment of acne, alcoholism, unwanted effects of drug abuse, leprosy, motion sickness, muscle problems, poor circulation, and mental problems, and for prevention of heart attacks, have not been proven. Many of these treatments involve large and expensive amounts of vitamins.

Injectable niacin and niacinamide are given by or under the supervision of a health care professional. Other forms of niacin and niacinamide are available without a prescription.

Niacin and niacinamide are available in the following dosage forms:

  • Oral
  • Niacin
    • Extended-release capsules (U.S.)
    • Solution (U.S.)
    • Tablets (U.S. and Canada)
    • Extended-release tablets (U.S. and Canada)
  • Niacinamide
    • Tablets (U.S. and Canada)
  • Parenteral
  • Niacin
    • Injection (U.S.)
  • Niacinamide
    • Injection (U.S.)

Before Using This Dietary Supplement

If you are taking this dietary supplement without a prescription, carefully read and follow any precautions on the label. For niacin or niacinamide, the following should be considered:

Allergies—Tell your health care professional if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to niacin or niacinamide. Also tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any other substances, such as foods, preservatives, or dyes.

Pregnancy—It is especially important that you are receiving enough vitamins when you become pregnant and that you continue to receive the right amount of vitamins throughout your pregnancy. The healthy growth and development of the fetus depend on a steady supply of nutrients from the mother. However, taking large amounts of a dietary supplement in pregnancy may be harmful to the mother and/or fetus and should be avoided.

Breast-feeding—It is especially important that you receive the right amounts of vitamins so that your baby will also get the vitamins needed to grow properly. However, taking large amounts of a dietary supplement while breast-feeding may be harmful to the mother and/or baby and should be avoided.

Children—Problems in children have not been reported with intake of normal daily recommended amounts.

Older adults—Problems in older adults have not been reported with intake of normal daily recommended amounts.

Medicines or other dietary supplements—Although certain medicines or dietary supplements should not be used together at all, in other cases they may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your health care professional may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your health care professional if you are using any other dietary supplement or any prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Other medical problems—The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of niacin or niacinamide. Make sure you tell your health care professional if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Bleeding problems or
  • Diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) or
  • Glaucoma or
  • Gout or
  • Liver disease or
  • Low blood pressure or
  • Stomach ulcer—Niacin or niacinamide may make these conditions worse

Proper Use of This Dietary Supplement

For good health, it is important that you eat a balanced and varied diet. Follow carefully any diet program your health care professional may recommend. For your specific dietary vitamin and/or mineral needs, ask your health care professional for a list of appropriate foods. If you think that you are not getting enough vitamins and/or minerals in your diet, you may choose to take a dietary supplement.

Niacin is found in meats, eggs, and milk and dairy products. Little niacin is lost from foods during ordinary cooking.

Vitamins alone will not take the place of a good diet and will not provide energy. Your body also needs other substances found in food such as protein, minerals, carbohydrates, and fat. Vitamins themselves often cannot work without the presence of other foods.

The daily amount of niacin needed is defined in several different ways.

  • For U.S.—
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) are the amount of vitamins and minerals needed to provide for adequate nutrition in most healthy persons. RDAs for a given nutrient may vary depending on a person's age, sex, and physical condition (e.g., pregnancy).
  • Daily Values (DVs) are used on food and dietary supplement labels to indicate the percent of the recommended daily amount of each nutrient that a serving provides. DV replaces the previous designation of United States Recommended Daily Allowances (USRDAs).
  • For Canada—
  • Recommended Nutrient Intakes (RNIs) are used to determine the amounts of vitamins, minerals, and protein needed to provide adequate nutrition and lessen the risk of chronic disease.

Normal daily recommended intakes in milligrams (mg) for niacin are generally defined as follows:

Persons

U.S.

(mg)

Canada

(mg)

Infants and children

Birth to 3 years of age

5-9

4-9

4 to 6 years of age

12

13

7 to 10 years of age

13

14-18

Adolescent and adult males

15-20

14-23

Adolescent and adult females

13-15

14-16

Pregnant females

17

14-16

Breast-feeding females

20

14-16

Dosing—The amount of niacin and niacinamide needed to meet normal daily recommended intakes will be different for different individuals. The following information includes only the average amounts of niacin and niacinamide.

  • For niacin
  • For oral dosage form (capsules, extended-release capsules and tablets, tablets, oral solution):
    • To prevent deficiency, the amount taken by mouth is based on normal daily recommended intakes:
      • For the U.S.
      • Adult and teenage males—15 to 20 milligrams (mg) per day.
      • Adult and teenage females—13 to 15 mg per day.
      • Pregnant females—17 mg per day.
      • Breast-feeding females—20 mg per day.
      • Children 7 to 10 years of age—13 mg per day.
      • Children 4 to 6 years of age—12 mg per day.
      • Children birth to 3 years of age—5 to 9 mg per day.
      • For Canada
      • Adult and teenage males—14 to 23 mg per day.
      • Adult and teenage females—14 to 16 mg per day.
      • Pregnant females—14 to 16 mg per day.
      • Breast-feeding females—14 to 16 mg per day.
      • Children 7 to 10 years of age—14 to 18 mg per day.
      • Children 4 to 6 years of age—13 mg per day.
      • Children birth to 3 years of age—4 to 9 mg per day.
    • To treat deficiency:
      • Adults, teenagers, and children—Treatment dose is determined by prescriber for each individual based on the severity of deficiency.
  • For niacinamide
  • For oral dosage form (tablets):
    • To prevent deficiency, the amount taken by mouth is based on normal daily recommended intakes:
      • For the U.S.
      • Adult and teenage males—15 to 20 milligrams (mg) per day.
      • Adult and teenage females—13 to 15 mg per day.
      • Pregnant females—17 mg per day.
      • Breast-feeding females—20 mg per day.
      • Children 7 to 10 years of age—13 mg per day.
      • Children 4 to 6 years of age—12 mg per day.
      • Children birth to 3 years of age—5 to 9 mg per day.
      • For Canada
      • Adult and teenage males—14 to 23 mg per day.
      • Adult and teenage females—14 to 16 mg per day.
      • Pregnant females—14 to 16 mg per day.
      • Breast-feeding females—14 to 16 mg per day.
      • Children 7 to 10 years of age—14 to 18 mg per day.
      • Children 4 to 6 years of age—13 mg per day.
      • Children birth to 3 years of age—4 to 9 mg per day.
    • To treat deficiency:
      • Adults, teenagers, and children—Treatment dose is determined by prescriber for each individual based on the severity of deficiency.

If this dietary supplement upsets your stomach, it may be taken with meals or milk. If stomach upset (nausea or diarrhea) continues, check with your health care professional.

For individuals taking the extended-release capsule form of this dietary supplement:

  • Swallow the capsule whole. Do not crush, break, or chew before swallowing. However, if the capsule is too large to swallow, you may mix the contents of the capsule with jam or jelly and swallow without chewing.

For individuals taking the extended-release tablet form of this dietary supplement:

  • Swallow the tablet whole. If the tablet is scored, it may be broken, but not crushed or chewed, before being swallowed.

Missed dose—If you miss taking a vitamin for one or more days there is no cause for concern, since it takes some time for your body to become seriously low in vitamins. However, if your health care professional has recommended that you take this vitamin, try to remember to take it as directed every day.

Storage—To store this dietary supplement:

  • Keep out of the reach of children.
  • Store away from heat and direct light.
  • Do not store in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the dietary supplement to break down.
  • Keep the liquid form of this dietary supplement from freezing.
  • Do not keep outdated dietary supplements or those no longer needed. Be sure that any discarded dietary supplement is out of the reach of children.

Precautions While Using This Dietary Supplement

This dietary supplement may cause you to feel dizzy or faint, especially when you get up from a lying or sitting position. Getting up slowly may help. This effect should lessen after a week or two as your body gets used to the dietary supplement. However, if the problem continues or gets worse, check with your health care professional.

Side Effects of This Dietary Supplement

Along with its needed effects, a dietary supplement may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your health care professional immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

With injection only

Skin rash or itching; wheezing

With prolonged use of extended-release niacin

Darkening of urine; light gray-colored stools; loss of appetite; severe stomach pain; yellow eyes or skin

Other side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the dietary supplement. However, check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome:

Less common—with niacin only

Feeling of warmth; flushing or redness of skin, especially on face and neck; headache

With high doses

Diarrhea; dizziness or faintness; dryness of skin; fever; frequent urination; itching of skin; joint pain; muscle aching or cramping; nausea or vomiting; side, lower back, or stomach pain; swelling of feet or lower legs; unusual thirst; unusual tiredness or weakness; unusually fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some individuals. If you notice any other effects, check with your health care professional.

Developed: 05/26/1995
Revised: 06/04/2003

The information contained in the Thomson Healthcare (Micromedex) products as delivered by Drugs.com is intended as an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatment. It is not a substitute for a medical exam, nor does it replace the need for services provided by medical professionals. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before taking any prescription or over the counter drugs (including any herbal medicines or supplements) or following any treatment or regimen. Only your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for you.

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