A daily niacin dose of 16 mg is beneficial for weight loss, as it plays a key role in the metabolism of carbs, fat and protein. We can get more than enough niacin from food. Much higher dosages from supplements can cause weight gain, though.
A diet rich in niacin is good for weight loss!
Niacin is also known as vitamin B3, nicotinic acid, or nicotinamide. It’s a water-soluble B vitamin.
All tissues in the body can convert niacin into its main metabolically active form, the coenzyme NAD. Moreover, all tissues, except skeletal muscle, convert NAD into another active form, the coenzyme NADP. More than 400 enzymes require NAD and NADP to function properly.[1,2]
First, NAD is crucial for the metabolism of carbs, fats, and proteins. Niacin helps the body obtain energy from the food.
NADP is vital for the metabolism of cholesterol and fatty acids. Furthermore, it has potent antioxidant properties.
Additionally, high niacin intake seems to protect the liver from fat accumulation and improve insulin sensitivity. Obese people tend to develop insulin resistance, which leads to increased blood glucose levels and metabolic disorders.[3,4]
According to studies, people can significantly improve their metabolic status and lose weight, when they follow a diet high in niacin, decrease the consumption of saturated fat, and start exercising regularly.[5,6]
Replacing saturated fatty acids with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids, and particularly omega-3s, is vital for good health and maintaining a normal body weight.
Moreover, obesity increases inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation promotes weight gain! Niacin can attenuate the detrimental effects of inflammation.
Additionally, low niacin intake seems to increase free fatty acid concentrations. But, high free fatty acid concentrations inhibit the secretion of the growth hormone. Low levels of growth hormone can lead to weight gain and increased fat accumulation. Especially in the belly! Also, low levels of growth hormone can cause poor bone mineral density and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.[8,9]
Last, but not least, we should consume foods with tryptophan. This is an amino acid which the body can convert to niacin. Moreover, tryptophan is crucial for the synthesis of serotonin. A hormone which promotes weight loss as well.
How much niacin per day for weight loss?
The recommended daily intake for niacin is 16 mg and 14 mg for men and women, respectively. Only pregnant and lactating women need higher doses of 18 mg and 17 mg, respectively. Children require lower doses.
Do I need niacin supplements to lose weight?
Poor diet, alcohol abuse, medication, and disease are common reasons of niacin deficiency. If you follow a healthy, well-balanced diet, you probably don’t need niacin supplementation, though. Niacin supplementation won’t help you burn more belly fat.
We lose weight when we consume fewer calories than we burn! Thus, caloric deficit, combined with moderate exercise, is crucial for losing weight.
Does too much niacin cause weight gain?
Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin. Excess amounts are excreted through urine. But, much higher dosages than the maximum safe intake for a long time may cause adverse effects. For instance, chronic extremely high intakes of niacin from supplements and fortified foods seem to increase appetite, eventually causing weight gain.
Animal-based foods high in niacin for weight loss!
Actually, niacin is naturally present in a wide variety of foods.
Foods from animal sources, such as poultry, beef, and fish are excellent dietary sources. First, they provide the most highly bioavailable forms of niacin; NAD and NADP. Also, they provide about 5-10 mg niacin per serving!
The richest dietary sources of niacin are seafood, such as anchovies, sardines, salmon, and tuna.
Also, meat and poultry are excellent sources of niacin. Beef liver, turkey, chicken, and pork provide high doses of niacin per serving as well.
On the contrary, dairy and eggs don’t contain high doses of niacin.
Tryptophan for niacin synthesis
Moreover, the body converts the amino acid tryptophan to niacin. About 60 mg of tryptophan are needed for the synthesis of 1 mg of niacin. Chicken, turkey, red meat, pork, fish, eggs, and dairy are the richest foods in tryptophan.
Turkey is the richest natural source of tryptophan. A 3 oz portion of turkey breast provides about 180 mg tryptophan. It’s the equivalent to 3 mg of niacin. We can also get high doses from a turkey sandwich.
Do vegans get enough niacin from food?
But, we shouldn’t depend on food from animal sources to get the recommended intake of niacin in order to maintain a healthy body weight. Actually, there are so many plant-based foods high in niacin.
In fact, nutritional yeast is the richest food in niacin. It has 100 mg niacin per 100g, or 15 mg per serving! Only 3 tbsp of nutritional yeast a day provide all the niacin we need.
Additionally, mushrooms, peanut butter, chia, sunflower, pumpkin, and flax seeds are particularly high in niacin. Hence, vegans and people who follow a plant-based diet should consume nutritional yeast, seeds, and nuts regularly in order to get high doses of niacin!
Moreover, many vegan foods, such as wheat flour, corn flour, rice, bread, and breakfast cereals, are fortified with niacin.
Last, but not least, there is a wide variety of plant-based foods high in tryptophan, which is converted to niacin. Beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are the best dietary sources of tryptophan.