Summary

Niacin cannot be manufactured by humans and is obtained exclusively from the diet. Niacin is a precursor of NAD and NADP, which are required for a very large number of enzymes in essentially all metabolic pathways, including central roles in energy metabolism. Deficiency is rare, and generally found in individuals with highly-restricted diets and/or substantial gastrointestinal disease. Symptoms can include nausea, skin and mouth lesions, anemia, diarrhea, headaches, mental confusion, and tiredness. The role of niacin in the treatment of autism is not well studied, however, children with ASD often have diets that are relatively deficient in many nutrients. The niacinamide form of niacin does not cause flushing, and side effects are rare at usual doses used in supplementation.

Niacin in Spectrum Needs

Niacin in the form of niacinamide is added in order to provide a wide basis of nutrition, especially given the important role of niacin/niacinamide in energy metabolism. Side effects are unexpected.

The Details

What Is It? Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is one of the eight B-complex vitamins. Niacin cannot be manufactured by humans and is thus a true vitamin, obtained exclusively from the diet.

What Does It Do? Niacin is a precursor of the coenzymes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP), which are required for a very large number of enzymes in essentially all metabolic pathways, including central roles in energy metabolism.

What Does Deficiency Appear as? Deficiency is rare, and generally found in individuals with highly-restricted diets and/or substantial gastrointestinal disease. Symptoms can include nausea, skin and mouth lesions, anemia, diarrhea, headaches, mental confusion, and tiredness.

What About Its Use in Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD)? The role of niacin in the treatment of autism is not well studied, however, children with ASD often have diets that are relatively deficient in many nutrients.

What About Its Use in Other Conditions? Niacin is important for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system and metabolism, especially balancing blood cholesterol levels. In addition, niacin helps with brain function, healthy skin formation, and the maintenance of normal blood sugar.

What Are the Common and/or Important Side Effects? Niacin is water-soluble vitamin and thus considered to be generally non-toxic. Niacin in the form of nicotinic acid is well known for causing flushing, but it is harmless. The niacinamide (also known as nicotinamide) form of niacin does not cause a flush, but also is not effective in lowering cholesterol levels. Side effects are rare at usual doses of niacinamide used in supplementation.

Is There Any Laboratory Testing? Laboratory testing can reveal the presence of a deficiency of this nutrient, but is generally not likely to have clinically utility.

How and Why is this Nutrient Used in Spectrum Needs

Niacin, in the form of niacinamide, is added to Spectrum Needs in order to provide a wide basis of nutrition, especially given the important role of niacin/niacinamide in energy metabolism. Side effects are unexpected at the form and dose used in Spectrum Needs.