Vitamin B3 (niacin)

Niacin (vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid), has several important functions, including helping to release energy from the foods we eat and helping to keep the nervous systems and skin healthy. The RNI for niacin is 17mg a day for men and 13mg for women. There are two forms of niacin: nicotinic acid and nicotinamide, both of which are found in food. Taking high doses of nicotinic acid supplements can cause skin flushes and taking high doses for a long time could lead to liver damage (NHS Choices, 2015a). The Department of Health says you should be able to get all the niacin you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. Taking 17mg or less of nicotinic acid supplements a day or 500mg or less of nicotinamide supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm (NHS Choices, 2015a).

Food (100g) Vitamin B3 (niacin) (mg)
RNI: 13mg/day for women and 17mg/day for men
Yeast extract 64.0
Peanuts 13.8
Peanut butter 12.5
Tahini 5.1
Sesame seeds 5.0
Wholemeal toast 4.5
Sunflower seeds 4.1
Pine nuts 3.8
Mushroom, raw 3.2
Apricots, ready-to-eat 2.3
Peas, boiled 1.8
Brown rice, boiled 1.3
Avocado 1.1

Table 10.0 The vitamin B3 (niacin) content of selected foods.

Source: FSA, 2002.

The average niacin content of various types of beef, lamb and chicken lies in the range of 5.0-10mg per 100g. Table 10.0 shows you can get all the niacin you need from a varied vegan diet.