An expert at aiding your body to convert carbohydrates into energy, Vitamin B3 or Niacin plays an important role in the metabolic functions. Good digestive function, detoxification processes, and the creation of hormones – all of these have to say a word of thanks to Niacin as well.
But how do you know if you’re missing this important vitamin in your paleo diet? Niacin deficiency can be characterised by digestive problems, skin infections, lack of appetite, and generalised weakness or muscular weakness. In addition, you might be prone to Niacin deficiency if you’ve suffered from stress, physical trauma, long-term fever, and excessive consumption of alcohol.
It’s quite impressive how Vitamin B3 can benefit your body in adequate amounts. Just look at this list of medical conditions that it may help to prevent or treat – Alzheimer’s, depression, diabetes, gout, hallucinations, headaches, hyperactivity, hypothyroidism, insomnia, inflammatory bowel disease, menstrual pains, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, pellagra, smelling and taste disorders, vertigo. Let’s focus on Alzheimer’s for a moment – in a research from 2004 it was found that elderly subjects who consumed most Niacin in their food were 70% less likely to have Alzheimer’s than those who consumed the least. What an illustration for the power of food in achieving good health until old age. This is what makes the Paleo Diet so fantastic – it shows that delicious whole foods can be the best medicine for your body.
How much Vitamin B3 should you consume?
The recommended daily amount is 20mg, and there are no toxicity symptoms reported to be connected to Niacin consumption from whole foods. However, a tolerable upper limit from supplements is set at 35mg.
Which foods can you get Niacin from?
Now, your body can produce some Vitamin B3 from an amino acid called tryptophan, but this is really inefficient. The Paleo Diet is a great source for adequate Niacin consumption, since it includes a variety of natural food sources. Here are some of the best!
- Liver – If you’re looking for a “comprehensive health supplement”, liver is one of the best, and Vitamin B3 is no exception here. A portion of 100g of lamb liver will provide you with 83% of your daily Niacin need, with other animal livers providing just slightly less than that.
- Chicken – Lean meats are a great source of Niacin, with chicken at the top of the list. A serving of 100g provides you with 68.6% of your daily need.
- Tuna – A protein-rich portion of tuna is another good source for Vitamin B3, as a 100g portion covers 15.7% of your daily intake need. Tuna salad, anyone?
- Turkey – Another lean meat, turkey provides 37% of your daily need of Vitamin B3 in a serving size of 100g. If you’re used to preparing a lot of chicken, try turkey on some of the nights instead for a slightly different micronutrient profile.
- Venison – Yes, Vitamin B3 seems to be all about lean meats… Venison provides you with 37.1% of your daily Niacin need in a 100g portion. Might be time to ring up that hunter you know!
- Halibut – This fish that makes for a lovely dinner along with some veggies provides 35.6% of your daily Niacin need in 100g.
- Shiitake mushrooms – These mushrooms that provide a rich taste for any dish cover 19.4% of your daily Niacin need in a 100g portion. That’s a good enough reason to search for some Asian recipes for your next dinner!
- Sweet potatoes – Not just a source of carbs to fuel your activity, sweet potatoes also provide some great nutrition. One cup of baked sweet potatoes will cover 8.5% of your daily need of Vitamin B3, so feel free to add them to your preferred piece of meat or fish.
What else should you know about Vitamin B3 consumption?
One of the most stable water-soluble vitamins, Niacin is only minimally influenced by air, light, and heat, and thus you shouldn’t be worried about losing the vitamin B3 content of the food you are cooking or storing.
So, what do you think? Are you planning a meaty (or fishy) Niacin-rich dinner already? Share your thoughts about this vitamin in the comments!