10 Niacin Deficiency Causes Symptoms And Treatment


Niacin or nicotinic acid consists of vitamin B3 which is indispensible for the proper function of gastrointestinal tract and nervous system. Niacin deficiency takes place when a person’s intake of vitamin B3 is terribly low. Some people who pass through a bout of certain medical condition fail to absorb niacin due to their particular health condition. These people are also vulnerable to niacin deficiency. Main role of niacin is to metabolize proteins and fats, convert carbohydrates into glucose, allow the nervous system to function properly, improve cholesterol level and blood circulation level and help produce sex hormones in the body.

List Of Niacin Deficiency Causes Symptoms And Treatment

Causes Of Niacin Deficiency

Niacin deficiency in the body can be triggered due to various reasons. Main reason among them is inadequate consumption of vitamin B3 through dietary sources. Long-term consumption of maize, salted pork and molasses as staple food can also trigger niacin deficiency because these foods are very poor sources of vitamin B3. Diseases like chronic diarrhea and tuberculosis can also cause the body to go deficient of niacin. Less absorption of niacin in the digestive tract can also allow a person to stay deficient of vitamin B3. Sometimes, excessive alcoholism and prolonged use of antibiotics also lead to niacin deficiency. Gluten intolerance and Chron’s disease can also potentially induce vitamin B3 deficiency in the body. Strict vegetarians run the risk of catching niacin deficiency if they do not add it through supplement.


Symptoms Of Niacin Deficiency

Mild deficiency of niacin in the body can shown symptoms such as fatigue, indigestion, depression, headache, diarrhea and vomiting. In some cases symptoms like pigmentation and rashes on skin, swollen mouth, red tongue and canker sores can also be seen. However, if the deficiency is severe, you can end up having a health condition called pellagra which affects digestive system, skin and nervous system.


Here Is A List Of Important Diseases Caused Due To Niacin Deficiency


Pellagra is caused when a deficiency of niacin gets severe. Sometimes, when tryptophan gets converted into niacin in a defective way, pellagra is caused. This disease is mainly characterized by erythema, nervous disorder and gastrointestinal disturbances.


Weak Metabolism

Niacin deficiency has huge affects on metabolism and central nervous system. Weak metabolism and immunity lead to feeble defense against attack of virus and people end up catching cold and flu quite often.


Skin Disorders

Niacin deficiency can induce various skin disorders like inflamed skin, scaly or cracked skin and itchy skin. A severe sort of niacin deficiency can cause swelling and blisters on the skin. There may also be bleeding from the blisters. The bleeding leads to black crusts on the surface of the skin. Slowly, the crusts are changed into thick pigmentation. This kind of skin disorder mainly develops on the backside of the hands.

dry skin

Psychiatric Troubles

Some of the psychiatric troubles caused due to niacin deficiency in the body include anxiety, irritability, lack of concentration and apathy. Sometimes, the deficiency triggers more serious types of symptoms like tremor, psychosis, paranoia, dementia, mania and disorientation. These symptoms are shown when central nervous system gets affected due to niacin deficiency.


Defective Gastrointestinal Tract

The most common symptom shown by niacin deficient patients is the abnormal behavior of their gastrointestinal tract. Often, the patients also experience diarrhea, vomiting, poor appetite and abdominal pain.



Glossitis or inflammation of the tongue is an important symptom shown by niacin deficiency in the body. People passing through the deficiency can have deep red or discolored tongue. Starting from the tongue, the ulcer slowly spreads throughout the mouth and causes pain.



Severe deficiency of vitamin B3 can result in stomatitis which is an inflammation of the mucous membrane of mouth.



Niacin deficiency in the body can be restored by providing supplements of nicotinic acid or nicotinamide. But, the supplement should be taken under the supervision of a qualified physician. Intake of too much nicotinic can be unsafe. Males above 19 years are advised to take 16 mg of nicotinic or vitamin B3 daily while females belonging to same age group are recommended to take 14 mg. However, pregnant women and breastfeeding women are required to take 18 mg and 17 mg of vitamin B3 respectively.


Some of the dietary sources which have rich amount of nicotinic include shiitake mushrooms, chicken, chicken, tuna, salmon, halibut, turkey, grass-fed beef, asparagus, peanut and beet. Sunflower seeds also have very high content of vitamin B3 and other B vitamins like folate, riboflavin and thiamin. In this regard, you must remember that due to over-cooking, niacin gets lost from the food. So, you must be extra cautious while cooking.

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