What is vitamin B3?

Vitamin B3 (niacin) is a water-soluble nutrient that helps your body convert food into energy, create cholesterol and fats, create and repair DNA, and has antioxidant effects. It works in the body as a coenzyme, with more than 400 enzymes dependent on it for various reactions.

Vitamin B3 is found naturally in many foods. Your body can also convert an amino acid known as tryptophan to nicotinamide, a niacin derivative. Your body excretes excess amounts of niacin in urine.

Vitamin B3 benefits

  • Improves blood fat levels
  • Helps generate energy 
  • Helps DNA synthesis
  • Fights infections
  • Creates cholesterol
  • Synthesizes fats
  • May reduce blood pressure

How much vitamin B3 do you need per day?

Niacin is measured in milligrams (mg) of niacin equivalents (NE). One NE equals 1 milligram of niacin or 60 mg of tryptophan.

  • Adult Women: 14 mg NE
  • Adult Men: 16 mg NE
  • Pregnant/Breastfeeding Women: 18 mg NE

Natural sources of vitamin B3

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Grains
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Vitamin-fortified cereals and breads

Learn about vitamin B3 deficiency symptoms.

Further Reading: Harvard School of Public Health, National Institutes of Health (1), (2)