Another of the B-complex vitamins is niacin. It, too, is water-soluble but is more stable than thiamine or riboflavin. Generally, it is found in two forms, nicotinic acid and niacinamide, with the latter preferred by certain people because it minimizes the flushing and itchy skin that sometimes accompanies taking the supplement.
Functions Working with thiamine and riboflavin, it helps to release energy by burning starches and sugars. As a coenzyme, niacin is necessary for cell respiration. These two functions should be useful to bodybuilders when they are choosing vitamin supplements to increase energy levels. Research has shown that nicotinic acid reduces levels of cholesterol. The same is not true of niacinamide. By increasing circulation, niacin in either form promotes healthier-looking skin and alleviates disturbances in the intestinal tract.
Deficiency symptoms At one time, the lack of niacin in the diet caused many people to die of pellagra, a skin disease. This condition was caused by diets without milk, meat, yeast, peas, beans, and other vegetables. Now there is little incidence of this disease except in Africa. Mild symptoms are irritability, depression, and anxiety. People with severe cases develop pellagra, diarrhea, and dysfunctions of the nervous system.
Destroys vitamin or limits absorption Caffeine, alcohol, and antibiotics destroy or limit absorption.
Toxicity Basically, this vitamin is nontoxic. People with sensitive skin, however, may get flushed or itchy skin from nicotinic acid. This is caused by the release of a histamine and is usually gone within 15-20 minutes. This effect can be minimized by taking the supplement directly before or after a meal
Storage Niacin withstands a reasonable amount of time in storage.
Processing effects If only a little cooking water is used, niacin losses can be held at a minimum.
Best sources Brewer's yeast, chicken breast, cornflakes (enriched), kidneys, liver, peanuts, rabbit, swordfish, torula yeast, turkey breast.
Animal Cheese, eggs, halibut, milk, salmon, shad, trout, tuna, veal.
Fruit A poor source except for dried peaches.
Grains, nuts, seeds Bread (enriched), cornmeal (enriched), mixed nuts, peanut butter, rice (enriched), wheat bran, wheat flour (enriched).
Vegetables A poor source,
Selection Canned, frozen, and dried products lose little of their niacin content (less than 20 percent) when compared to the rest of the B-complex group. Cereals lose close to 90 percent, but they are usually enriched with niacin.
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