Vitamin B3 or niacinamide is widely used in the treatment and prevention of a number of health conditions. Among them the most important use is the treatment and prevention of a condition caused by deficiency of vitamin B3. This condition is called pellagra. Pellagra is characterized by three Ds, dermatitis, dementia and diarrhea.
The requirement of vitamin B3 in various age groups is as given below:
Dosage for infants and pediatric ages
- In infants and immediate postnatal period – 6 months: 2 mg/ day (is usually sufficient)
- Infants from the period 7 months – 1 year: 4 mg/ day (is usually sufficient)
- Children from 1- 3 years: 6 mg / day
- Children in the age group 4 – 8 years: 8 mg/ day
- Children in the age group 9 – 13 years: 12 mg / day
- Males in the age group 14 – 18 years: 16 mg / day
- Females in the age group 14 – 18 years: 14 mg / day
Dosage for adults
- Males 19 years and older: 16 mg / day
- Females 19 years and older: 14 mg / day
- Pregnant females: 18 mg / day
- Breastfeeding females: 17 mg / day
The doses in treatment of conditions such as high blood cholesterol are far higher than the doses given above. These doses are considered as therapeutic doses and may have major side effects unless carefully administered. Thus the help of a medical doctor is essential while giving these therapeutic doses.
What precautions are necessary for using vitamin B3 therapeutically?
Use of high doses of vitamin niacinamide (therapeutic doses) causes a number of side effects. Such high doses are used in the treatment of a number of conditions from high cholesterol to atherosclerosis (thickening of arterial walls). Any dose which exceeds 50 mg./ day is considered a therapeutic or high dose for vitamin B3. The most common adverse effect with these dosages is flushing of the skin of the face and chest. This results in a tingling sensation of the affected parts of the body and skin with a reddish hue. This condition is called “Niacin flush”. Use of aspirin may reduce these flushes. Other known side effects with high doses of vitamin B3 are liver damage and gastritis and stomach ulcers caused by irritation of the stomach mucosa (the inner lining of the stomach). Hence patients with a history of liver disease or gastric problems should not be given high doses of Vitamin niacinamide. Also the use of this vitamin alone can cause an imbalance of the other B-vitamins, resulting in other side effects. Hence, it is better to administer vitamin B3 along with the other B-complex vitamins. Gout is another condition where such high doses of vitamin B3 are contraindicated.
Drug interactions of vitamin B3
Vitamin B3 can interact adversely with other drugs. Among the most important is its interference in the absorption of antibiotics, notably tetracycline. Hence antibiotics should be taken orally a few hours after vitamin B3 administration. Also Vitamin B3 must be used carefully with anticoagulants.
For more information see Vitamin Niacinamide.