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Does Niacin Help With Weight Loss?

It's important to get enough niacin if you're trying to lose weight, because it helps your body convert food to energy. However, avoid getting too much, because niacin is an appetite stimulant. Niacin, a B-complex vitamin, is considered essential because it is water-soluble and your body does not store it. Therefore, you need a continuous supply through your diet.


While many people believe that niacin intake is conducive to weight loss, niacin is actually an appetite stimulant, according to a 2010 study published by Da Li and colleagues in the World Journal of Gastroenterology. The researchers concluded that excess niacin consumption may have led to increased obesity in children in the United States.


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The average niacin consumption per day in the U.S. is twice the recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, according to the 2010 Li study. Niacin-fortification is practiced in developed countries to prevent pellagra, a niacin-deficiency disease that leads to inflamed skin, digestive problems and cognitive impairment. Many foods, including a wide array of grains and ready-to-eat cereal, are fortified with niacin. Many animal products, which Americans consume in excess, also contain an abundance of niacin.


Niacin is important to the health of the digestive system, skin and nerves, according to the National Institutes of Health. It also helps convert food to energy and may improve circulation and reduce cholesterol. Because it plays an important role in digestion, it may benefit your metabolism, but that does not mean that it causes weight loss. Additionally, niacin helps your body make various sex- and stress-related hormones.


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Women over age 18 should consume 14 milligrams of niacin per day, and men over age 18 should consume 16 milligrams a day, according to the Institute of Medicine's Dietary Reference Intakes. The maximum intake amount that is likely to pose no risk of adverse effects for adults is 35 daily milligrams. No evidence suggests that adverse effects can result from niacin in foods. Too much niacin from supplements can result in flushing and gastrointestinal distress.


If you are tryting to lose weight or maintain your current weight, try not to exceed the recommended dose of niacin. Eat animal products in moderation and drink less coffee, which contains niacin. Skip foods that are fortified with large amounts of niacin, like ready-to-eat cereals. Exercise more, because excess niacin is eliminated through sweat. Taking one B vitamin can result in deficiency in other B vitamins, so if you choose to take a niacin supplement, take a B-complex vitamin. Take supplements only under the supervision of your health-care provider.