Niacin or vitamin B3 is one of the B complex vitamins. Niacin also known as nicotinic acid has two other forms: niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide and inositol hexanicotinate both of which have different effects than niacin. This all important vitamin is used in the treatment of a variety of conditions. But is using niacin for depression effective?
How Niacin Is Used In The Body
Niacinamide, the form that is often used in the treatment of depression, is made from niacin. When the body has more niacin than it needs, it converts the left over amounts to niacinamide. Both are easily dissolved in water and are well-absorbed by the body when taken by mouth.
Both of these forms are required for the proper breakdown and absorption of fats and sugars in the body, and allows for the maintenance of healthy cells. Niacin and niacinamide can have different effects at high does. Niacin can help people with heart disease because of its effects on clotting. It also can improve the levels of triglycerides, a form of cholesterol, while niacinamide has no beneficial effect on these two factors.
Because it the many benefits and actions of niacin and niacinamide in the body, both of these forms have been used to treat conditions such as migraine headaches, dizziness, diabetes and some skin conditions.
Depression And Neurotransmitters
It has been well established that the lack of neurotransmitters plays a key role in several mental health issues including depression, anxiety and related disorders. According to recent mixed neurotransmitter theory research, depression, including that associated with bipolar depression, is caused by the fact there are reduced numbers of brain neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters are important for the communication between brain cells. The molecular substances are chemical messengers that can affect everything from mood, anxiety, sleep, appetite, temperature, heart rate, fear, aggression and many other physical and psychological events.
Mainstream depression therapy is based on the replace or increasing of certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and epinephrine. The problem of this is, is that they only increase the availability without actually increasing the amount. Long term therapy has often shown a furtherance of the depression as there is a natural breakdown without replacement of the already depleted supply of neurotransmitters.
It has been shown that vitamin deficiency especially that of niacin and niacinamide is linked to depression. By increasing the amount of niacin and niacinamide in the body, the production and availability of neurotransmitters can be increased.
While clinical research is still being done in this area, there has not been any definite approval for the use of niacin for depression. However, many clinicians that are currently using it are showing tremendous results with a wide variety of nutritional deficiency related mental health issues.
Current Research In The Use Of Niacin and Depression
There is currently a lot of research in the use of niacin to treat a number of disorders. There has been evidence that people who have higher levels of niacin in their diets tend to have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are no studies that have evaluated this particular correlation.
As far as the brain goes, the research is being centered on the use of niacin in the treatment of ADHD, dizziness, migraines, motion sickness and alcohol dependence. Another area of concentration is the use of niacin for depression and may find a natural way to treat this severe mental illness.
Recommend Daily Allowances
There are several dietary supplements of vitamin B3. There recommended daily allowance of Niacin includes:
- Infants from 0-6 months: 2 mg
- Infants 7 months – 1 year: 4mg
- Children 1-3 years old: 6 mg
- Children 4-8 years old: 8mg
- Children 9-13 years old: 12 mg
- Girls 14-18 years old: 14 mg
- Boys 14-18 years old: 16 mg
- Men over 19 years old: 16 mg
- Women over 19 years old: 14 mg
- Pregnant Women: 18 mg
- Breast Feeding women: 17mg
The maximum dose of niacin per day is 2000 mg or 2 grams. There is a chance of overdose and drug interaction with many medications, so it is always wise to consult your physician when taking any oral dietary or nutritional supplement.
Ways To Include Niacin In Your Diet
There are a variety of foods that offer niacin naturally. These foods include:
Sun-dried Tomatoes. A rich source of potassium and iron, 100 grams (3.5 oz) of sun-dried tomatoes will give you 9.1 mg of niacin.
Bacon. Also a good source of niacin, it is also a high cholesterol food. 100 grams (3.5 oz) will net you 11.6 mg of niacin. However, for those who have cholesterol issues, you may want to limit this source.
Chicken (white meat). The tenders or breast of the chicken provides 12.4 mg per 3.5 oz serving.
Veal. A pan fried lean top round cut of veal provide 12 mg of niacin per 3.5 oz serving.
Peanuts. This snack food is full of a wide variety of nutrients like zinc, protein, vitamin E, folate (vitamin B9), copper and magnesium. A 3.5 oz serving will give you 22 mgs o f niacin.
This popular ingredient in sauces and curries, it is also high in vitamins K, E, B6, B2, B1, A and potassium. 1 teaspoon will give you 1.1 mg of niacin.
Liver. Often seen as pate, it is also present in liverwurst and can be steamed or fried. Lamb liver has the most niacin, giving you 16.7 mg per 3.5 oz serving.
Fish. Tuna, Swordfish and anchovies. Canned anchovies have the most niacin with 3.5 oz giving you 19.9 mg of niacin.
Bran. From Rice and Wheat is a rich source of vitamin B6. Whole grain foods such as brown rice and whole wheat bread, rice bran will give you 34 mg per 3.5 oz serving which works out to 2.5 mg per tablespoon. Wheat bran has 13.6 mg per 3.5 oz serving or 0.493 mg per tablespoon.
Yeast Extract Spread. Also known as Marmite. Popular and common in British cultures it will give you 5.8 mg per teaspoon of niacin.
Depression affects millions of people every day. Finding new and more natural effective treatments such as niacin for depression has become a become a imperative area of research. To find out if you or someone you know is suffering from depression, take the test: