What it does:

  • Helps your body use sugars and fatty acids.
  • Helps enzymes function normally in your body.
  • Helps produce energy in all body cells.

Ifyou don'tget enough: For people who consume adequate amounts of protein-rich foods, a niacin deficiency isn't likely. Pellagra is caused by a significant niacin deficiency. Symptoms include diarrhea, mental disorientation, and skin problems.

Ifyou consume excess amounts: Consuming excessive amounts, not likely from food, may cause flushed skin, rashes, or liver damage. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) is 35 milligrams daily for adults, and 30 milligrams daily for teens ages fourteen to eighteen. Self-prescribing large doses of niacin to lower blood cholesterol may lead to adverse effects—and may not give cholesterol-lowering benefits. If your doctor prescribes niacin, take it in the recommended dosage.

How much you need: Niacin recommendations are given in NE, or niacin equivalents. That's because it comes from two sources: niacin itself and from the amino acid called tryptophan, part of which converts to niacin.

Like thiamin and riboflavin, the recommendation is tied to energy needs. The advice for adult males is 16

milligrams NE daily, and for adult females, 14 milligrams NE daily. During pregnancy, 18 milligrams NE is advised; during breast-feeding, 17 milligrams NE daily.

Where it's mostly found: Foods high in protein are typically good sources of niacin: poultry, fish, beef, peanut butter, and legumes. Niacin is also added to many enriched and fortified grain products.

Food Niacin (mg NE)

Turkey breast, roasted, without skin (3 oz.) 6.0

Peanut butter (2 tbsp.) 4.0

Enriched flour tortilla (1) 1.5

Enriched spaghetti, cooked (z/2 cup) 1.0

Black-eyed peas, frozen, cooked (V2 cup) 0.5

Yogurt, fat-free with dry milk solids (1 cup) 0.5

Pyridoxine (vitamin B6)

What it does:

  • Helps your body make nonessential amino acids, or protein components, which are then used to make body cells.
  • Helps turn the amino acid called tryptophan into two important body substances: niacin and serotonin (a messenger in your brain).
  • Helps produce other body chemicals, including insulin, hemoglobin, and antibodies that fight infection.

If you don't get enough: A deficiency can cause mental convulsions among infants; depression; nausea; or greasy, flaky skin. For infants, breast milk and properly prepared infant formulas contain enough.

If you consume excess amounts: Large doses, over time, can cause nerve damage. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) is 100 milligrams daily for adults; 80 milligrams daily for teens, fourteen to eighteen.

How much you need: The RDA is 1.3 milligrams daily for adult males and females through age fifty. After age fifty, the RDA increases to 1.7 milligrams daily for males and 1.5 milligrams for females. The amount increases to 1.9 milligrams daily during pregnancy and 2.0 milligrams daily during breast-feeding.

Where it's mostly found: Chicken, fish, pork, liver, and kidney are the best sources. Whole grains, nuts, and legumes also supply reasonable amounts.

Food Pyridoxine (mg)

Chicken, light meat,

skinless, roasted (3 oz.)


Pork, loin, roasted (3 oz.)


Peanut butter (2 tbsp.)


Black beans, boiled (V2 cup)


Whole-wheat spaghetti,

cooked (V2 cup)


Almonds (1 oz. or 24 almonds)


Folate (folic acid or folacin)

What it does:

• Plays an essential role in making new body cells by helping to produce DNA and RNA, the cell's master plan for cell reproduction.

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