I’ll be honest. I really didn’t know much about the nutritional supplement (and naturally found nutrient in foods) niacin before I read an interesting article about how it is being used for heart health.
All I really knew about niacin is that it could cause facial flushing (redness) in the face if you took too much of it. I remember actually experiencing this facial flushing once years ago when I was taking some sort of dietary supplement that contained niacin within it.
So aside from the flushing aspect, I really didn’t know much. So what is niacin exactly? Niacin is a B vitamin actually. Its most popular use, which is to help promote blood flow and therefore in the process help with circulatory and heart health, is being called into question now.
The reason? Researchers have shown that two different studies showed the vitamin had no significant effect on heart or circulatory health. Interestingly, it is mostly sold on a prescription basis although the supplement is made as an OTC offering in smaller doses and less proprietary offerings.
Niacin is supposed to help your body maintain high levels of “good” cholesterol while also helping to lower the levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood. This of course leads to a healthier heart, better blood flow and may even impact your risk of having a stroke in a positive way since a stroke is usually due to high bad cholesterol levels in the blood.
Even though there are prescriptions for this vitamin, you should really try to get most of your niacin the way you should also try to get all the other vitamins and nutrients in your diet, in a complete and whole food.
Here are some of the foods that are naturally high in niacin:
Pork chops, beef and chicken may be high in niacin, especially if they are free roaming, grass and free range fed since they get better nutrients than the animals that are caged and unhappy. Organ meats are also high in niacin, but I really wanted to give them minimal mention since most people don’t relish the idea of eating a heart or kidney (I know I surely don’t).
Many different types of fish are high in this B vitamin as well. I love a good piece of fish here and there, and you can really get this important nutrient by eating it lightly sautéed, or perhaps lightly baked. There are plenty of great recipes to eat fish in a delicious and inventive way these days, and there are plenty of mild tasting fish (orange roughey and Pollack are two of the ones that are high in niacin and they are very mild).
Peanuts are high in niacin as well. So logic follows that peanut butter and other products containing raw peanuts would contain this nutrient as well. No reason not to get your B3 vitamin in nature. If you eat any of these types of foods on a daily basis, then you are probably getting the right amount to keep your body healthy.