What's To Know About Vitamin B-3 Deficiency?

Vitamin B-3 deficiency can disrupt dozens of processes in the body and can lead to a disease called pellagra.

Vitamin B-3, also known as niacin, plays a key role in skin, digestive, and mental health, and supports the functions of more than 200 enzymes in the body.


Vitamin B-3 is a combination of two chemicals: nicotinic acid and nicotinamide. The body breaks these chemicals down to produce two additional chemicals: NAD and NADP.

NAD and NADP play a role in a variety of chemical reactions inside the body and also support cell metabolism. So, people who don't get enough vitamin B-3 can experience a range of health problems and symptoms, ranging from minor to life-threatening.

Fast facts on vitamin B-3:

- Vitamin B-3 is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that the body can't store it.

- The body also cannot make vitamin B-3.

- Meats and meat alternatives, such as soy, are the richest sources of vitamin B-3.

- People with vitamin B-3 deficiency typically need vitamin B-3 supplements.

How much vitamin B-3 do we need?

For most people, the following daily intake guidelines will prevent niacin deficiency:

infants 0-6 months: 2 NE

infants 7-12 months: 4 NE

children 1-3 years: 6 NE

children 4-8 years: 8 NE

children 9-13 years: 12 NE

children 14-18 years: 16 NE for boys; 14 NE for girls

adults 19 years and older: 16 NE for men; 14 NE for women

pregnant women: 18 NE

breast-feeding women: 17 NE