Niacin or Vitamin B 3
Saul Yudelowitz BSc (Hons)
Pellagra means rough skin; this includes skin problems, diarrhea, neurodegenerative disease and death. Niacin was included in Vitamin B3; to avoid confusion with nicotine it became known as Niacin.
Confusion has occurred with the by-product of Niacin which is Niacinamide. Niacin picks up ammonia and becomes Niacinamide which is mainly eliminated in the urine. This chemical reaction can also run the other way and so when we have excessive ammonia we become tired. Ammonia is toxic to the brain and liver.
Niacin is essential in many body reactions; it works by transporting hydrogen in one direction and electron in the opposite direction. Calcium pushes electrons away from it and this movement is what mobilizes calcium. This mobilization of calcium allows the surface membranes to function. These membranes include the nerves among many others. The mobilization of calcium also helps to prevent osteoporosis.
One commonly used group of blood pressure medicines is calcium channel blockers. In 1992 the sales of these medicines topped US$ 3 Billion. Calcium channel blockers are associated with neurodegenerative disease. Another manipulation of calcium by the pharmaceutical companies is under the symptom of heartburn. By mobilizing calcium around the digestive tract the body increases hydrochloric acid (HCL). HCL is essential for the sterilization of food and the start of protein digestion. Low levels of HCL result in malnourishment due to a lack of protein. All hormones and tissue of the body are made from protein. Chronic use of acid pump inhibitors (proton pump inhibitors) reduces the HCL which also leads to an increase in the bacteria that should have been destroyed in the stomach by HCL. Bacteria escaping the stomach and entering the bowel leads to many diseases.
When niacin opens the calcium channels, the immune compliment is allowed to pass thorough the membranes. These membranes are found through out the body and act as a barrier to the spread of bacteria, viruses and fungi. We experience a movement of blood and the immune complement into the skin when we take niacin. After a couple of weeks this effect subsides and it requires a higher dose to achieve this again. If we use the layers of an onion as an example, a low dose of niacin will affect the superficial layers while a larger dose will affect the superficial and deep layers. As we go deeper, we detoxify, clean and repair tissue in every part of the body.
Skin begins to improve, with the disappearance of dark ‘age spots’ sometimes called liver spots. The skin is the external representation of the immune system on the outside while the liver is the representation on the inside. These two organs mirror each other. Improvement of the liver also improves DNA. Broken DNA is repaired by niacin and low levels of niacin are associated with all cancers. With cellular repair we have improved bone marrow function. Bone marrow produces the immune cells referred to as white blood cells. When white blood cells are low we are anemic and pale. Niacin corrects this.
Low level of niacin is also related to neurodegenerative disease. Supplementation has been noted to reverse this. The main vitamin in coffee is niacin. The Parkinson disease study of 770 000 veterans found that the more coffee consumed the lower the rate of Parkinson’s disease.
One of the first signs of pellagra or niacin deficiency is the skins sensitivity to light. The skin becomes rough, thick and dry. Then dark pigmented especially in areas that are exposed to the sun and prone to sweat. The first stage is extreme redness and sensitivity to the sun. It was from this symptom that the term ‘redneck’ in the eighteenth and eighteenth century field workers came into being. Many people who work in the first world can relate to skin symptoms. Often they have tried to correct this using the typical medical approach with no resolution. If you are under increased amounts of stress and have some of these symptoms, checking your niacin levels is worth the cost of the test.
At Health and Performance we are not trying to reinvent the wheel, just look at it from a different perspective. If you have any questions feel free to email us. Any change in your health care regime should be discussed with your health care provider(s). The point of this article is to make you think so that you can make informed choices about your health.
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