Nicotinic acid is a water soluble group B vitamin. Nicotinic acid is also known by other names, including niacin, nicotinamide, vitamin B3 and vitamin PP. In the food industry it's widely known under the name E 375.
Nicotinic acid can enter the body with food products or be formed in it using the amino acid tryptophan. Note however that a person with a deficiency of vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and vitamin B6 cannot get the niacin from the amino acid in question. Niacin can also be obtained artificially by synthesizing it from the alkaloid nicotine.
History of Nicotinic Acid
The famous chemist Casimir Funk first isolated nicotinic acid in the first quarter of the last century. Later it was found that the acid in question turned out to be something like a transporter of hydrogen. As a result they began doing multiple research studies on the vitamin and theories emerged that nicotinic acid could cure the disease pellagra. In the first quarter of the 20th century it affected no small number of South American inhabitants.
The disease spread far and wide in other countries, among which were Romania, Italy and Spain - in other words, in countries where citizens fed primarily on corn. At that time the disease was associated with food poisoning. Today we know that the cause of the condition is actually the absence of tryptophan in corn, in turn meaning that the body cannot synthesize niacin. Hence, pellagra is the result of nicotinic acid deficiency.
Functions of Nicotinic Acid
Nicotinic acid has many important functions. It turns out that it's needed for the synthesis of sex hormones such as testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. In addition it affects the synthesis of hormones such as thyroxine, insulin and cortisone. Of course, niacin's function does not end here. Experts note that this type of acid is crucial for a healthy brain and nervous system. Nicotinic acid is also responsible for healthy and beautiful skin.
Choosing and Storing Nicotinic Acid
Nicotinic acid is a component of many tablets and ampules. It is either put in on its own or in combination with vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and others. It's also put into various types of medications. They need to be stored in a dry area away from sunlight, away from other drugs. Only buy medications containing nicotinic acid from drugstores and always check the expiration date, which should be written on the product package.
Benefits of Nicotinic Acid
The benefits of moderate intake of nicotinic acid are tremendous. It's been proven that vitamin B3 helps relieve gastrointestinal problems and takes care of the digestive system. Further it affects skin appearance and fights bad breath. According to studies, niacin helps normalize high blood pressure and proper blood circulation. It also lowers high cholesterol.
As well, nicotinic acid has a beneficial effect for diabetes, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, menstrual pain, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, cataracts, Alzheimer's disease and others. Among the positive properties of vitamin B3 is its ability to interact with anticoagulants. Another plus is that it can take heat treatment and retains its positive properties even after boiling and baking.
Sources of Nicotinic Acid
Excellent sources of nicotinic acid are not only plant products but certain meat products as well. In general, sufficient amounts of the substance are found in mushrooms, asparagus, seaweed, avocado, dried prunes, figs, dates, rice, beetroots, celery. Niacin is also found in beer yeast, peanuts, almonds, cow milk and eggs. Among meat products that are sources of nicotinic acid are liver, white chicken meat, venison, kidneys and others. This valuable vitamin can also be obtained by consuming fish (tuna and salmon) and other seafood such as shrimp for example.
Taking Nicotinic Acid
For good bodily health, we must regularly take nicotinic acid. The daily recommended value for adults is between 13 and 19 mg. Experts recommend breast-feeding mothers to take a little more - 20 mg. As with most substances, we shouldn't overdose with nicotinic acid as well. In case you take more than 100 mg of the vitamin you may feel unpleasant side effects.
Dangers of Nicotinic Acid
Taking larger doses of nicotinic acid may result in common discomforts, including burning and itchy skin. In addition, large quantities of vitamin B3 may hinder the sugar absorption by the body, which is some cases may lead to impaired glucose management. It's also possible for excessive intake of nicotinic acid to cause an onset of gout.