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How does Vitamin B3 affect the human body?

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Quick Answer

Vitamin B3 affects the human body in a number of ways, including lowering bad cholesterol, supporting the nervous system and assisting the body in converting food into energy. Vitamin B3 is also essential for healthy hair, skin and nails, explains Encyclopedia.com.

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Full Answer

The majority of people get all the vitamin B3 that they need through a healthy diet. Chicken, eggs, carrots, beef, beets and liver are all great sources of vitamin B3, explains MIT. Additionally, vitamin B3 can be taken in supplement form.

Vitamin B3 deficiencies are rare, and can often be treated with a proper diet and regimented supplements. Symptoms of vitamin B3 deficiency include indigestion, fatigue, vomiting and depression. Severe deficiency can cause Pellagra, a condition causing dry, cracked and scaly skin. Alcoholism is the leading cause of vitamin B3 deficiency, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Vitamin B3 can present side effects in higher doses. The most common side effect is called "niacin flush," which is a burning sensation in the face and chest, or red and flushed skin. Other side effects can include increased allergy symptoms. Liver damage and stomach ulcers have been reported in people taking large doses of vitamin B3. Vitamin B3 may interact with some medications, explains the University of Maryland Medical Center. Anyone considering taking vitamin B3 supplements should first consult their doctor.

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