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Vitamin B3

Supplement Forms/Alternate Names:

Niacin, niacinamide, nicotinamide, inositol hexaniacinate


Vitamin B3 is found in grains, nuts, and meat. The body uses vitamin B3 to make energy from fats and carbs. Vitamin B3 has been used to improve heart health and lower cholesterol. It has also been used to improve symptoms of diabetes. It is also used to manage niacin deficiency. Vitamin B3 can be taken as a pill or powder. It can also be applied as a cream or oil and has been used to improve acne and signs of aging. It can also be injected into the bloodstream by a healthcare provider.


14-16 milligrams for adults each day

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

May Be Effective

Unlikely to Be Effective

  • New onset diabetes—likely to increase the risk of getting diabetes E1

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to use vitamin B3 on the skin and to take it orally in small doses for a short time, but face and body flushing is likely and stomach upset may also happen. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take large amounts of vitamin B3.

  • People with heart, liver, endocrine, metabolic, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, liver, and kidney problems should talk to their doctor before taking vitamin B3.
  • People with blood disorders should talk to their doctors before taking vitamin B3.


Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse such as:

  • Taking vitamin B3 while using nicotine may cause dizziness.
  • People with high cholesterol or high blood pressure should talk to their doctors before taking vitamin B3. It may interact with their medicines.


A. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

A1. Lavigne PM, Karas RH. The current state of niacin in cardiovascular disease prevention: a systematic review and meta-regression. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013 Jan 29;61(4):440-446.

A2. Schandelmaier S, Briel M, et al. Niacin for primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular events. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;6:CD009744.

B. Coronary Artery Disease

B1. Duggal JK, Singh M, et al. Effect of niacin therapy on cardiovascular outcomes in patients with coronary artery disease. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2010;15(2):158-166.

C. Diabetes

C1. Ding Y, Li Y, et al. Effect of niacin on lipids and glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials. Clin Nutr. 2015;34(5):838-844.

D. Migraine

D1. Prousky J, Seely D. The treatment of migraines and tension-type headaches with intravenous and oral niacin (nicotinic acid): systematic review of the literature. Nutr J. 2005 Jan 26;4:3.

E. New Onset Diabetes

E1. Goldie C, Taylor AJ, et al. Niacin therapy and the risk of new-onset diabetes: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Heart. 2016 Feb;102(3):198-203.

F. Osteoarthritis

F1. Jonas WB, Rapoza CP, et al. The effect of niacinamide on osteoarthritis: a pilot study. Inflamm Res. 1996;45(7):330-334.

Last reviewed July 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC  Last Updated: 3/26/2020