Niacin (B3) Health Benefits

| Modified on Feb 28, 2024
Niacin Health Benefits

One of the eight B vitamins, niacin is an especially important nutritional supplement. The main purpose of the nutrient centers on turning food into energy in the body, which also functions to keep the skin and nerves healthy. As such, niacin serves as an effective preventative measure and even a treatment option for a wide range of conditions.

What is Niacin?

Also known as vitamin B3, niacin is a water-soluble vitamin. The vitamin possesses a number of positive qualities and plays a role in the catabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and alcohol.

Niacin is a nutrient found in a number of common food sources. Anchovies, beef, whole wheat bread, beans, cheese, chicken, eggs, fish, lamb, leafy vegetables, and legumes are among the most abundant sources of niacin; however, other food sources also contain the vitamin.

While fresh food options are the best sources of any vitamin, particularly vitamin B3, the nutrient can also be found as an individual supplement and as a component of B complex vitamins or even multivitamins. In any form, niacin supplementation is effective for treating and preventing a number of health conditions.

Health Benefits of Vitamin B3

As with any nutrient, vitamin B3 carries specific consequences associated with both deficiency and overconsumption. As such, special care must be taken when using the supplement. Nonetheless, the nutrient possesses a number of beneficial qualities that support good health.

While niacin possesses a wide array of health benefits, five of them stand out among the rest. The nutrient is considered a component of significantly decreasing heart disease, lowering the levels of bad cholesterol, elevating the levels of good cholesterol, reducing specific health concerns, and producing energy in the cells. With these advantages and more, vitamin B3 is considered an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease, cataracts, osteoarthritis, type-1 diabetes, pellagra, and others.

While a balanced diet is one of the best defenses for a wide range of health conditions, specific nutritional supplements, such as niacin, also offer a great deal of health support. Vitamin B3 is an effective treatment for a variety of conditions and also serves as a preventative supplement for various conditions.

Continue reading below for feedback from Earth Clinic readers who supplement with Niacin. Do you take it? Please send us your feedback on this supplement!

Anxiety, Cystic Acne, Acne Scars

2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Panem et circenses (Atlanta) on 12/07/2021

About 8 years ago, I began taking pure niacin for anxiety. I followed the protocol of Dr. Andrew Saul who was taught by Abram Hoffer. I started with 25mg 3x a day and slowly worked my way up to eventually 6500mg per day in divided doses. If you watch the documentary Food Matters, Dr. Saul discusses a woman with severe depression who benefits greatly from 13,000mg per day.

Anyway, as I was increasing my dose, I discovered that my cystic acne was going away. Up til then I had horribly painful deep cysts that would persist longer than regular acne. I also noticed that the cysts I had once developed on my upper thighs and even sometimes my armpits were COMPLETELY gone. I have not had them since. And like I said, that was 8 years ago when I started.

Now, PLEASE do your research about niacin first. While I have never had any issues with it (aside from accidentally taking time release niacin which raised my liver enzymes and caused my ankles to swell - very scary. Once I stopped it, all went back to normal), it does cause a flush. This flush can be anywhere from a slight warmth to feeling like a bad sunburn. It can take 15 minutes to an hour to pass. That is why I started at a VERY low dose and very gradually worked up.

I took the 25mg 3x a day and increased by 25mg per dose every 2-3weeks. I only started flushing when I started taking 50-100mg each dose. I believe it detours the liver and that may have something to do with it getting rid of the acne. I RARELY even have a pimple now when prior to starting it, I had a horrible pizza face with redness and discoloration from the scarring.

My scarring is 95% gone too. I'm sorry for the long post but felt this was a good one to share. Again, I ONLY use pure niacin (flush niacin), not niacinamide and definitely not time release niacin. Those two are dangerous to the liver from what I've read.

Replied by Empiricalevidencerules

Niacin seems to work for me. Thank you. Once off birth control pills and in menopause I started getting cysts on arms face back of thighs that refused to heal. Used steristrips for healing, calamine seemed to help some. Careful with contamination calamine.

Also tried spirolactone for1 year no help. No acne topical, no oral or topical antibiotics worked, gluten free 1 year no worked. Dermatologist two visits in 5 years only shame you. So I have used oral niacin 2x 500mg per day and it has prevented cysts. it did not help healing the existing one sore I had but did prevent new ones.

As a scientist, I am trying to figure out how niacin works for my skin. I am in great health otherwise_ athletic and real food. Are the sores a result of pellagra? Any thoughts?

Better Sleep, Mental Clarity, Smooth Skin

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by storycharms (Turkey ) on 06/14/2021 8 posts

I ordered some no-flush niacinamide B3 (500mg capsule) from a reputable source after reading about its benefits for dry skin, which had recently become a problem for me. But I quickly noticed the hugely positive impact on my dreadful and seemingly entrenched insomnia, which is far more important. I confirmed the connection after researching a little more and reading some posts here on EC, and switched to taking it in the evening after dinner.

I also use a sublingual B12 spray in the mornings, which energises me. As a lacto-vegetarian with gluten intolerance, I think it's necessary to supplement with B vitamins normally supplied in diets that include meat, fish and wheat.

After 2 months I can report no negative side effects and improvement in my overall health and wellness, including better sleep, mental clarity and yes, smoother skin from head to toe!


Posted by Danny (Uxbridge, England) on 09/10/2012

Bill from the Phillipines, . Are you sure taking vitamin B-3 at 500 mgs is OK... I took one pill (niacinamide)and currently feel sick to my stomach... I also have hepatitis -C... Maybe is contraindicated for B-3?

Replied by Bill
(San Fernando, Philippines)

Hi Danny... My feeling is that if you believe and feel that niacin or niacinamide is causing your nausea problems then you should cut back or stop using it.

There is some research evidence that suggests that niacin is not beneficial to the liver in larger amounts but this directly conflicts with Abram Hoffer's view that larger amounts of niacin are protective to the body. I myself am evidence of this and Abram Hoffer took between 500 mgs and 6 grams of niacin for decades and he was an expert on this vitamin. He also said:

Niacin is not liver toxic. Niacin therapy increases liver function tests. But this elevation means that the liver is active. It does not indicate an underlying liver pathology. Dr. Bill Parsons discussed this extremely well in his book on niacin and cholesterol (Cholesterol Control Without Diet, Lilac Press, 2000). I personally have been on, 500 to 6, 000 mg daily since 1955. The biggest danger of taking niacin is that you live longer. One of my patients is 112. She does cross country skiing and has been on niacin for 42 years. The fear doctors have of niacin is not based on data or facts and, like any myth, is very hard to eradicate. So many patients are on niacin that by chance some will also have liver damage from other conditions such as alcoholism, hepatitis and so on. Niacin does not make it any better nor worse.


Replied by Danny
(Uxbridge, England)

Bill, Thanks for the quick reply... I will give it another try and see what happens... Possibly take 1/2 of a 500 mgs capsule for a few days before I up it to 500 mgs... How far should I take this increase of dosage to see some results? I weigh 180 pounds and am 6'0". 62 yrs old. Thanks again...

Replied by Faith
(Cincinnati, Ohio)

Niacin kills candida OR FUNGAL YEAST.... There are no contraindications because it is killing off the virus making you ill.... Step back and get a 100 mg supplement and start there. Take one every day... Each week increase by one... Take it with a meal... If the flush gets too bad, decrease the dose and keep going. Also take a good B complex that contains niacinamide as well... This will also help a great deal. Try to find an organic one for the best absorption, a powder... dump the powder in a drink, stir, and drink.

Replied by Bodulica
(Barrie, Canada)

Yes, it can make you feel sick. This website is great for all drugs and supplements, uses, side-effects, drug interactions...

Replied by Ali

Apparently, it seems that the no-flush forms of niacin, such as Niacinamide, may trigger liver issues, but the flushing niacin doesn't. Having said that, one of niacin's roles is in detoxification. That in itself may temporarily put a greater burden on the liver as it eliminates toxins. It is better to start low & slow & gradually build up the dose. The flushing action can be unpleasant, so it may be better to acclimatise gradually, starting with just 50mg or even 25mg. The flushing effect is stronger if taken with water on an empty stomach, but may not be experienced at all if taken with food. The flushing effect is beneficial though, as it opens the capillaries & not only allows more oxygen to the cells, but also helps flush out toxins, parasites & pathogenic microbe colonies.

ED, Arthritis, High Cholesterol

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Paracelsus (Orlando, Fl) on 01/15/2018 47 posts

Niacin eliminates ED, arthritis and improves cholesterol and much much more.

Niacin is probably the most underappreciated vitamin. I read a book on Niacin (Drs Hoffer and Saul) and put the vitamin to test on myself. Read the article on Niacin on doctoryourself dot com. I eliminated arthritis from my fingers, increased libido, erections and quality of intercourse. Niacin is supposed to have great effects on mental conditions as well. It is used to help people break addictions to alcohol. Side effects include longer life (around 3 years added life expectancy) and flushing. I only use the flush niacin not the flush free niacin. The flush free niacin helps for some conditions but not for all. Especially it does not improve cholesterol (niacin lowers LDL or bad cholesterol and increases HDL).

I take around 500mg per day which is pretty low. Dr. Hoffer and others usually prescribed 1000 mg to 3000 mg daily. I believe in adjusting the dose to where you see results. I see results at 500mg, so I haven't gone much beyond that (some days I'll take 1000mg). Also, if you want to minimize or eliminate the flush, only take Niacin on a full stomach. On an empty stomach, the flush will be intense. Also, work yourself up to higher doses. Start with 50mg 3x per day and work up to 1000 mg per day.

If I could only take one supplement, it would definitely be Niacin. It is king in my opinion.

Fibromyalgia and Insomnia

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Root Lady (New Orleans, LA) on 06/13/2021

I take a scant amount of niacin most nights for fibromyalgia pain and insomnia. It's proven so effective that I anticipate taking it for the remainder of my life.

One pro tip: mix in OJ to mask the taste.

Replied by sara
(the beaches)

How much is a scant?

11 posts

I have the micro measuring spoons and a scale that measure mgs. My smidgen spoon runs anywhere from 155mg - 172mg. I don't know what he calls a pinch but if you buy the micro spoons, pinch is a little larger than a smidgen. I'm up to 300mg 3 times a day and 150mg at night. Trying to work up to at least 3,000 mg a day.

Food Cravings Diminished

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Cindy (illinois, USA) on 04/27/2021 432 posts

I got a HUGE effect from using a quarter teaspoon of diatomaceous earth in some water with 500 mg of "flushing" niacin. I wasn't getting a flush and discovered the body requires silica to process niacin...and it WORKED! And I realized that most of my food cravings are for niacin rich stuff but, apparently, it wasn't due to a niacin deficiency but, rather a SILICA deficiency -, I could walk right past a bowl of almonds or a pile of broccoli, LOL!


1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Penny (Fresno, CA) on 06/13/2021

Your article on niacin is timely. In 2013, I had hives so badly for months that I could barely function. Back then, my cure ended by just one good niacin rush [300ml]. Recently, I presumed it was fleas, so attacked that idea for weeks, when I then realized, NO, it's hives! I then took 300 ml. niacin, got an itchy rush, did it again a few days later, started to slowly recover. Then, a week later, BY ACCIDENT, I took 1000milligrams!! I survived it better than I thought, & now days later, I believe my full-body hives are seriously on their way OUT! True that I had to bear with rather uncontrollable itching for 1.5 hrs. via the niacin, but that's it. I'm SO relieved this idea occurred to me as a possible way to flush my skin. I was in hell. I hope this helps someone else!

Immune System Booster

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Jon (Australia) on 03/17/2015

Vitamin B3 boosts Immune system by 1,000 times! & boosts white blood cell count (healing cells).

I found the below information on Dr. Mercola's site here.

Vitamin B3 a Potential Weapon Against Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

In related news, a new study suggests vitamin B3 may be able to combat superbugs that modern medicine is finding it harder and harder to fight, including antibiotic-resistance staph infections. The research showed that high doses of the vitamin boosted the immune system by 1,000 times, giving the researchers hope that they may have found a new - and possibly better - way to fight infection.

According to BBC News:

"B3 increases the numbers and efficacy of neutrophils, white blood cells that can kill and eat harmful bugs. The study, in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, could lead to a "major change in treatment", a UK expert said."

One of the researchers is quoted as saying:

"This could give us a new way to treat Staph infections that can be deadly, and might be used in combination with current antibiotics. It's a way to tap into the power of the innate immune system and stimulate it to provide a more powerful and natural immune response."


Improving B Vitamin Absorption

Posted by Cindy (Usa) on 06/10/2014

Question for Bill from San Fernando:

I am taking the niacin and other b vitamins several times a day. not real sure they are doing me good, reason asking is when I urinate it is so very yellow! Can the supplements just be passing through with no benefit? does one need to take magnesium at the same time? any thought on this is appreciated as always. thanks in advance

Replied by Bill
(San Fernando, Philippines)

Hi Cindy...Urine normally varies in color anyway throughout the day depending on things like what you eat and drink, whether you alkalize or not etc. But generally it is the case that B vitamins do tend to initially turn urine yellow. But alkalizing properly should change the color back to pale yellow.

There are perhaps alot of unseen benefits from niacin/niacinamide. Together with magnesium, I find niacin to be a most relaxing vitamin. Perhaps many of the benefits of niacin/niacinamide are never really noticed, but here is a round-up of the many benefits from the research:

Migraine Prevention

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Dave (Fountain Inn, Sc) on 02/09/2014

I've been taking niacin (B 3 flush kind) for decades. I've taken it mainly for migraine headaches...not after the migraine begins but as a preventative; can take 250 mg four or five a week. I also take the herb feverfew as an herbal dilator.

To the people who got a bad flush at 500 - too much...won't hurt you though. Just chop the tabs in half and take AFTER eating...less intense flush and more a mild one if taken after eating. I think more effective also.

Mixing Niacin and Vitamin C

Posted by AnnaM (Tx) on 02/03/2023 11 posts

I was just wondering if it is OK to mix vitamin C (ascorbic acid), baking soda and niacin, the flush kind. I was mixing the vitamin C and baking soda with water until it stopped fizzing and then adding the niacin but one time while traveling, I mixed the vitamin C, baking soda and added water, then added the niacin and it started fizzing again for longer than the vitamin C/BS. It would be so much more convenient to just mix all the powders and then add water while traveling but wanted to make sure it wasn't degrading the niacin in some way.

Niacin and Plavix

Posted by Denise (Houston, TX) on 04/01/2015

Can you take Niacin and Plavix at the same time?

Replied by Mama to Many

Dear Denise,

My father has been on Plavix for 8 years. In the last year, I was able to get Niacin as part of his care. He was on it for at least six months. His Primary care doctor has changed. I do not know for sure if he is still taking it.

Anyway, I do not know for sure if it is safe across the board, but my dad only had positive effects from it. He was taking the slow release type.

~Mama to Many~

Replied by Robert Henry
(Ten Mile , Tn)

HI U MAMA, , , , , , , , , I do not understand your post at all. Niacin is a supplement and has nothing to do with Doctors or prescription drugs. Please explain.


Replied by Mama to Many

Dear Robert Henry,

I am sorry my post did not make sense.

It seemed that Denise was concerned about taking Niacin and Plavix, wanting to make sure that was safe to do, so I was trying to communicate that it worked safely for my Dad. I clarified that I didn't know if this would work across the board since I really don't know for sure if there is any chemical interaction between the two. I REALLY wish I had paid attention in chemistry!

I know that some supplements taken together can change what they will do in the body (as in, Lugol's iodine, taken with Vitamin C, will change the form of iodine and thus its affect on the body.) And some supplements cannot be taken with prescription drugs (charcoal taken at the same time as many prescriptions will adsorb them and render them ineffective. Someone taking diuretics would not want to take herbal diuretics. A friend of mine, when taking coumadin, was not allowed to eat more than a certain amount of greens because the amount greens you eat affects the amount of coumadin you need.)

So, I tend to err on the side of caution when combining things, unless someone smarter than me has given me the okay or I have researched it and figured it out myself.

If I am not answering your question, let me know.

Thanks! Have a great day!


Niacin Contraindications

2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Andrea C (Wales) on 05/06/2014

Hi Niacinamide has been found to cause Liver problems in some people and Nicotinic Acid ( Flush Niacin B3) should never be taken by people who are 'undermethylator.'

This has many symptoms and can be quite drastic if used by the wrong people. I suggest if you are, or thinking of using Niacin for any reason read up on being an 'undermethylator. ' before or if your having problems and already using it.

Love Andrea C xxxxx

Replied by Theory Ladeness

Great advice, Andrea.

Some people might be sensitive to even the smallest dosages, especially if not taken with food.

I have found that the benefits of niacin, when taken with avocados, seem to be many times greater than taken alone.

Niacin Deficiencies

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Ilana (Atlanta, GA) on 01/18/2022


I am confused between niacin and niacinamide. Many posts here are saying that niacin is the only form that will not damage the liver, but Ted's post below says the opposite:

Please advise what to do as I need to use it for my 18 years old finger skin inflammation.

Replied by Betty

The way it was explained to me by ND is Niacinamide is a precursor to Niacin.

I take Niacinamide in the AM then straight up Niacin in afternoon and before bed.

Niacinamide does not make you flush like Niacin does.

It was also rec'd that I do not take any time release form of anything. The time release ingredient fights with the liver to do its job of slowly releasing the supplement while the liver's job is to process and get things where they need to go in liver's time.

Niacin Flush

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Michael (Ballina) on 09/22/2017

Lower the dose to 100mg and work up from there until you get a mild flush.

1 2