Last updated: January 13, 2017
Also known as niacin, vitamin B3 is an essential nutrient most notable for normalizing cholesterol markers and cardiovascular interactions. Although many people believe vitamin B3 is a good source of cardiovascular protection, side effects of niacin can negate the benefits .
As with many of the b-vitamins, deficiency in this essential nutrient can be negative for cognition and general brain health. Healthy adults may see benefits for blood flow, which can influence cognitive performance .
One of the main benefits of vitamin B3 for the brain is general cognition and longevity. Niacin supplementation is supposed to increase specific nucleotides within our brain cells, which are related to cognition and nerve growth .
Finally, vitamin B3 has been implicated in Alzheimer’s patients. Supplementation or adequate consumption of niacin can prevent these neurodegenerative diseases .
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Editors’ Thoughts on Vitamin B3
Via pure anecdotal reports from my father and personal experience, niacin via green juices has had an intense energy and mental clarity benefit. Obviously this is confounded with other variables, but the “niacin flush” was one of the main symptoms of these experiences.
It doesn’t seem vitamin B3 supplementation is all that necessary in my opinion. I’ve never taken it by itself, but I find Qualia to be a reliable source of B3.
Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor
Benefits of Vitamin B3
In 2004, a study in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry suggested there is a direct correlation between dementia, neurodegenerative decline, and a lack of dietary niacin . Looking at over 6000 patients between 1993 and 2002, this comprehensive study showed just how important niacin is for preventing cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the study “…niacin intake had a protective effect on development of [Alzheimer’s disease] and cognitive decline.” Vitamin B3 may be a good supplement to use for elderly who are starting to struggle with age-related memory loss and dementia.
Another benefit of vitamin B3 is for antioxidant and detoxification support. Vitamin B3 is an essential vitamin, which is a precursor for molecules that detoxify cells .
One known benefit of vitamin B3 is via the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which is helpful for improving the longevity of cells and exerting a cognitive enhancement effect in theory .
Side Effects of Vitamin B3
Unlike some of the other essential nutrients and b-vitamins, there are risks and side effects of consuming too much vitamin B3. Excessive niacin has a tendency to create insulin resistance and decreases insulin sensitivity . For anyone this is a negative effect with long-term consequences.
In the short-term, the “niacin flush” can create discomfort in the face and body. People who consume too much niacin at one time can experience this temporary feeling.
Most of the time supplementation is around 1 gram, which is 5000% of the daily recommended intake. If you find a supplement with a much smaller dosage, most of the side effects of vitamin B3 are not problematic.
Vitamin B3 Dosage
Many of the studies of vitamin B3 dosage show about 1000 mg (1 gram) supplementation, but as mentioned above, this is far higher than the daily recommended intake. Not only can this cause a niacin flush (as mentioned above), but it can create long-term blood glucose problems as well.
For the brain, vitamin B3 as low as 20 – 50 mcg can be helpful especially for those who do not have a diet rich in this essential nutrient.
How and Where to Buy Vitamin B3
The best form of vitamin B3 is niacinamide. If you decide to buy vitamin B3, it is a good idea to find a product made from this form. Because vitamin B3 is an essential b-vitamin, most supplement and grocery stores have this supplement.
If you do not find niacinamide for sale at your local store, you might look for a B-complex that has more than one ingredient. Otherwise, we would recommended you buy niacinamide online from a reputable vendor. You can purchase it here.
Selected Community Experiences
“For bioavailable niacin check out Picamilon I don't get the ‘buzz' I got from large doses of niacin but I haven't experimented with large doses of Picamilon (yet)…”  – Tarasco
“I do feel that I have enhanced alertness and energy that is sustained until the moment that I fall asleep. Anecdotally, My vision seems to have improved.”  – mootbrute
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