Difference Between Niacin and Nicotinic Acid

Niacin vs Nicotinic Acid

We all need nutrition to keep regular metabolism in our body systems. These nutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. The nutrients can be classified based on many parameters. Based on quantity, they are classified as macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients. Classified based on the need, there are nutrients produced in the metabolism, and there are nutrients which should be taken in as diet, because of the inability of the body to produce them. Niacin or Nicotinic acid is one Vitamin of the Vitamin B complex; it is the Vitamin B3.

Niacin/Nicotinic Acid (Vitamin B3)

Niacin is also known as Nicotinic acid and is the Generic name for vitamin B3. Before it was discovered that vitamin B is not one, but a group of vitamins, Niacin/Nicotinic acid was the name used for the whole Vitamin B complex. A healthy person needs this micronutrient continuously. It is called a micronutrient because the body needs it in very low concentrations. Niacin/Nicotinic acid should be taken through diet because our bodies cannot synthesize it, and the supply should be continuous because our bodies cannot store if we supply in excess.

There are multiple functions of Niacin. It helps the body to metabolize food. Niacin is also used in synthesizing genetic material DNA. Niacin can be used to treat conditions such as arthrosclerosis and high cholesterol. Too much or too low Niacin could have negative effects on the body such as dermatitis. In addition, niacin deprivation can cause a condition called Pellagra which is quite common among poor populations in under-developed countries whose diet is generally corn based. When a person is suffering from pellagra, symptoms like skin issues, mental disorders and diarrhea are observable.

A healthy person can obtain the niacin supplement by natural food sources; green vegetables, eggs and fish. Niacin is also available as a food supplement syrup or tablets for people who lack natural niacin in their diets. They are available by the brand names Niacin SR, Niacor, Niaspan ER etc. Niacin supplement should not be taken if one is allergic or has a medical history of liver/kidney disease, heart disease, stomach ulcers, diabetes, and muscle disorder. Some side effects are increased if alcohol or hot beverages are consumed within few hours of intake. A person should not get up or move very fast from seating positions while taking niacin because he might feel dizzy and fall. Other side effects related to niacin are feeling of passing out, uneven and fast heart rate, swelling, jaundice, muscle pain, dizziness, sweating or chills, nausea, diarrhea and also insomnia. Anybody who shows these side effects should take medical advice before continuing the usage of niacin. A person should also avoid taking colestid, cholestyramine while taking niacin. If essential a minimum time gap of 4 hours should be kept between the two intakes.

What is the difference between Niacin and Nicotinic Acid?

• There is no difference between the chemistry of niacin and nicotinic acid. These are two names used interchangeably for vitamin B3.