Vitamin B3, strictly speaking, is not a vitamin because the body can make it from the amino acid tryptophan. However, if people are eating low protein diets then niacin does become an essential B vitamin. It is present in three forms, namely nicotinic acid, niacin and niacinamide - the first two cause dreadful flushing so please make sure when you purchase that you use niacinamide!
The active form of niacinamide in the body is NAD and this is a vital intermediary in energy production. Essentially, it links the two major biochemical pathways of Kreb's citric acid cycle with oxidative phosphorylation in order that the body can make our essential energy molecule, namely adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Without sufficient NAD, energy production is slowed and every single cell in the body will go slow. Therefore, it is not surprising that a deficiency of NAD has widespread effects and, by implication, NAD has many therapeutic uses. For this reason, I recommend Niacinamide to my CFS patients, based on results of the Mitochondrial Function Profile Test - please see CFS - The Central Cause: Mitochondrial Failure - Implications for Treatmentfor further details.
Therapeutical uses of niacinamide
The therapeutic uses that are now well established are as follows:
- Treatment of fatigue
For the reasons given above, low B3 will result in fatigue. Any condition associated with poor mitochondrial function, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, any organ failure, and any neurological disease such as Parkinson's disease, may well benefit from high doses of NAD.
Work done by Dr William Kaufman in the 1940s and written up in his book "The Common Form of Joint Dysfunction" demonstrated that many forms of arthritis can benefit from high dose B3. Kaufman was insistent that the full daily dose of as much as 3000 - 5000 mg be given in many small divided doses throughout the day. He got excellent results. This is an intervention well worth trying. See Arthritis - Nutritional treatments You can access Dr Kaufman's book online free of charge at this web address - Dr Kaufman's "The Common Form of Joint Dysfunction".
- Schizophrenia and Psychosis
Dr Abram Hoffer routinely uses high dose niacinamide, up to 3 grams daily, with excellent results for patients suffering from psychosis. It may take some months, or even years, to get the full benefit, but normal mental health can be restored. This is taken in conjunction with other nutritional supplements. You can read more about Dr Hoffer's work at this web address Successful Treatment of Schizophrenia Requires Optimal Daily Doses of Vitamin B3
- Anxiety and mood swings
A study comparing the benefits of high dose niacinamide compared to diazepam came up with the interesting result that niacinamide was more effective. The reference for the study can be found at Nicotinamide is a brain constituent with benzodiazepine-like actions, although, sadly, this paper is not open source. You will, however, find three case studies of the use of Niacinamide for anxiety at this web address Supplemental Niacinamide Mitigates Anxiety Symptoms: Three Case Reports.
- Control of blood sugar levels
I find myself talking more about the control of blood sugar levels than all other subjects put together. It is not just a case of maintaining a low glycaemic index diet. Taking nutritional supplements, reducing allergies, correcting hormonal imbalances and managing stress efficiently are all essential in maintaining normal blood sugar levels. See Hypoglycaemia
- Parkinson's disease
A trial of high dose niacinamide is well worth it in patients with Parkinson's disease because some will see marked improvements. This may be because niacinamide also has an effect on neurotransmitter levels.
- Neurotransmitter levels
Niacinamide may be converted by the body back to tryptophan and this is the raw material for the pathway that includes 5-HTP, serotonin and melatonin. This pathway will have profound effects on mood and sleep. So, for example, tryptophan and 5-HTP are very effective in the treatment of depression. Melatonin is obviously essential for quality sleep.
The dose of niacinamide
To get these therapeutic effects, one has to use niacinamide in much higher doses than the recommended daily allowances. Because it is so short acting, the best effects are achieved through small doses taken regularly throughout the day. However, this is tiresome and I have managed to source a good slow release preparation, which can be found on my online sales website here - 1500mg slow release Niacinamide Up to 500mg daily can be taken without any ill effects. In doses above this, there will be a few people who will develop abnormal liver enzymes and this is almost invariably accompanied by a feeling of nausea. In this event, therefore, check liver function tests. Having said that, I have recommended niacinamide to hundreds of patients and have yet to see any abnormal liver function tests. I think this is because side effects and problems with drugs and nutritional supplements almost invariably arise as a result of nutritional deficiencies. Since I like to start all my patients on a basic package of nutritional supplements see Nutritional Supplements, this situation is very unlikely to arise. This potential issue is also mitigated by the use of a time release preparation.
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