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  • Writer's pictureTo Your Health Editorial Staff

Why Niacin Matters

Never heard of niacin? It's a water-soluble vitamin better known as vitamin B3. Now that you know what it is, let's review why niacin is important for your health – and how you can ensure you're getting enough.

One reason niacin is important: it helps protect your heart by keeping your blood pressure in check. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a significant risk factor for heart attack and stroke, which makes niacin an essential component of heart health.

According to research, niacin reduces the risk of new-onset hypertension in adults: every 1 mg/day increase in dietary niacin corresponds with a 2 percent decrease in hypertension risk in people with daily intake below 15.6 mg ; and a 3 percent risk reduction in people with dietary niacin intake at or above 15.6 mg/ day. (The recommended daily allowance for niacin is 18 mg for men and 14 mg for non-pregnant women; 18 mg if pregnant.) Findings appear in JAMA Network Open.

Now let's talk about how to make sure you're getting enough niacin. Since niacin is water soluble, your body doesn't store it; that means you need to replenish it continually via your diet and/or supplementation. Good food sources of niacin include red meat, poultry and fish; brown rice; avocado; and nutritional yeast. Many other foods including fruits, vegetables and whole grains yield smaller amounts.

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