What is niacin deficiency? Can niacin deficiency in your body be a health risk? What are the symptoms or signs of niacin deficiency? Are the diseases associated with lack of niacin in your body? How do you prevent or treat lack of niacin? Read on to find out
What is Niacin Deficiency & Causes
Niacin deficiency is brought about when your body cannot get enough or simply cannot absorb niacin .Niacin is a vitamin B3 sometimes called nicotinic acid plays a vital role in the body. It helps the body to convert food/carbohydrates into glucose, assist in metabolizing fats and proteins as well. The nervous system functioning of the body partly depends on the availability of niacin in the human body.
Niacin Deficiency Causes
Inadequate intake of niacin in your diet may result to niacin deficiency or commonly referred to as pellagra. Niacin can also be causes by lack of other important nutrients in the body. Similarly individual who are prone to malnutrition are associated with niacin deficiency. The lack of niacin in the body today is linked to the problems that affect the absorption of niacin in the blood stream.
If you have a Poor digestive system, you are likely to have inadequate niacin in the body since the absorption is equally affected. If you started taking alcohol recently you ought to quit. Alcohol is the most common cause of niacin deficiency. Alcoholism leads to inadequate diets which translate to nutritional deficiencies such as Vitamins. The liver is a vital organ that manufactures niacin in the body. Too much consumption of alcohol impairs the liver and reduces the production of niacin making it inadequate in the body.
Niacin Deficiency Symptoms & Disease(s)
What are the symptoms of niacin deficiency? What diseases are associated with lack of niacin in your body?
Symptoms of Niacin Deficiency
Niacin takes part in numerous metabolic processes within your body; lack of it or reduced levels can have serious impacts on your health. Identifying the symptoms of niacin deficiency helps you to treat any medical condition that may arise from it. Below are detailed some of the symptoms that tend to occur when you have inadequate niacin in your body.
- Lesion on the skin
Do you have lesions on your skin? If you recently started having lesion on your body particularly the skin you could be probably suffering from the deficiency of niacin. The lesions appear more visible on places that experience more pressure. It is even worse when you expose your skin to the sun.
- Mucous Membrane Signs
Parts of the body that are susceptible to niacin deficiency include the mucous membrane of the mouth. If you experience acute supply of Vitamin B 3, you are likely to develop more serious health complications such as glossitis and stomatitis. The deficiency might even affect the urethra and vagina as well. When you get such symptoms, you should seek proper medication from health experts fast.
- Central Nervous System Problems
Lack of Vitamin B3 component in your diet puts your central nervous system at risk. When the amount of niacin in the body is not sufficient, you expose your body to serious central nervous problems such as: memory impairment, depression/anxiety, paranoia, confusion among others. It is important to talk to a physician once you notice these symptoms.
- Gastrointestinal Signs
Niacin deficiency has been linked to cause gastrointestinal problems such as the pharynx and oesophagus. If you start experiencing burning sensation along the guts, your body has insufficient Vitamin B3. In addition you may have also experienced pain or discomfort in the abdomen, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. This is an indication of deficiency of niacin in your body. Some people tend to have bloody stool which can be attributed to ulceration of the bowel.
Niacin Deficiency Disease(s)
Medical conditions are in most cases associated with lack of vital nutrients and minerals in the body. The deficiency of niacin in the body causes the following major disease.
This is a Vitamin B3 (niacin) deficiency and or sometimes tryptophan in your body. This disease is often characterised by diarrhoea or dermatitis. If you experience a severe case of pellagra you become depressive and your muscles become weak: a condition known as neurasthenia. Secondary stage of pellagra sets in when there is adequate niacin in your body but the absorption and processing in the body is inhibited by the following:
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- If you experience prolonged diarrhea
- Liver diseases such as cirrhosis
- Metabolic disorder such as the hartnup disease
Symptoms of Pellagra
The pellagra disease symptoms affect the skin, gastrointestinal and central nervous system.
Your skin should tell if you have pellagra or not. The early signs of pellagra on skin include:
- The skin becomes reddish and scales tend to develop superficially exposed on the skin.
- You may develop skin rash with a clear distinction showing the affected and the unaffected part.
- In some cases due to the rash on the skin, there may be itching or burning sensation.
- The disease manifests itself as lesions which may occur anywhere on the body including the hands, arms, the face and the neck.
- Some people may have sore lips, tongue and gums which bleed due to peeling.
Pellagra causes neurological impairment. The early signs of neurological imbalance include feeling of apathy and slight depression. You might experience headache, anxiety, restlessness, delusions and psychosis too. If this condition goes untreated, the patients become weak and may eventually die.
Niacin Deficiency Treatment
How do you prevent or treat the symptoms or t the diseases? A normal diet should be enough to supply the necessary requirements of niacin by the body. How much should you take to correct the depletion of niacin and restore it back? If you have the deficiency of niacin, you probably need to consider taking a recommended daily dose will work well for you.
The amount recommended to restore the level of niacin is 16 milligrams per day for women where as for men is 14 milligrams taken daily. Consider including in your diet food such as red meat, poultry products, fish and fruits.
You can as well visit your doctor to check whether you have an underlying medical condition that affects the absorption of niacin in your body. Niacin supplements such as multivitamins or mineral supplements are recommended to help raise the level of niacin. Usually these supplements contain about 20 milligrams of niacin. This amount is good enough to help rectify the deficiency. It is important to take supplements approved by the FDA for treating niacin inadequacy.
Sources and citations
- Four Signs of a Niacin Deficiency: http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/vitamins-minerals/4-signs-of-a-niacin-deficiency.
- Niacin Deficiency: http://www.webmd.com/diet/niacin-deficiency-symptoms-and-treatments