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Proper nutrition during pregnancy is vital for the healthy growth and development of the unborn baby. Vitamin B3, also called Niacin, is an essential vitamin that is necessary for the proper growth and nourishment of the developing foetus. This article tells you about the benefits of taking vitamin B3 during pregnancy, the recommended dietary intake, and the food sources of vitamin B3.
What is Niacin?
Niacin or nicotinic acid is Vitamin B3, a water-soluble chemical that is an essential human nutrient. Vitamin B3 is also found in another form called nicotinamide. Both forms of Vitamin B3 are vital for human life. Vitamin B3 is converted to NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), which is necessary for metabolizing fat, carbohydrates, protein, and alcohol in the body to give us energy. Vitamin B3 is also necessary for DNA repair, cell signalling, and synthesis of fatty acids.
Importance of Vitamin B3 in Pregnancy
Vitamin B3 is an important essential nutrient that is required for pregnant women so that the foetus is well-nourished and develops properly. Here are some reasons why Vitamin B3 is important for pregnant women:
1. Prevents Birth Defects
According to research, flaws in the genes that produce NAD cause birth defects in babies. Hence, taking adequate amounts of vitamin B3 can prevent certain birth defects and complications.
2. Essential for Development of Baby’s Brain
Niacin is necessary for the healthy development of the baby’s brain and nervous system.
3. Prevents Miscarriages
If the developing foetus has abnormalities, miscarriage can occur. Hence, taking Vitamin B3 can also prevent miscarriages.
4. Gives Us Energy
Vitamin B3 plays a crucial role in the metabolism of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and alcohol to give our body the energy we require.
5. Keeps Skin and Other Organs Healthy
6. Reduces Nausea and Improves Digestion
Taking vitamin B3 has been found to reduce morning sickness and aid in digestion.
7. Reduces Migraines
Vitamin B3 has been found to reduce migraines.
Recommended Daily Intake for Pregnant Women
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of Vitamin B3 for pregnant women is 18 mg per day. The upper limit is 35 mg per day. Any amount between 18 to 35 mg is acceptable for pregnant women. However, more than 35 mg per day is not recommended for pregnant women.
Niacin or vitamin B3 is rare these days as most foods and grains are fortified with vitamin B3. However, the deficiency of Vitamin B3 can cause a serious disease called Pellagra characterized by symptoms like lesions on the body, butterfly-shaped lesions on the face, lesions around the neck, pain and swelling of the mouth, vagina, and urethra, diarrhoea, vomiting, depression, and dementia. Signs of vitamin B3 deficiency are:
- Redness and irritation of the skin
- Digestive problems
- Depression and mood swings
- Inability to focus
- Fatigue and poor circulation
There are some people who are at a higher risk of vitamin B3 deficiency:
- People who consume corn or sorghum as a staple diet
- People with poor diet or those suffering from malnutrition
- People with slow-growing tumours
Food Sources of Vitamin B3
The various food sources that contain Vitamin B3 (Niacin) are:
- 113 g chicken breast – 14.4 mg of niacin
- 113 g salmon – 11.3 g niacin
- 113 g tuna – 5 g niacin
- 133 g turkey – 5 mg niacin
- 142 g mushrooms – 5.4 mg niacin
- 113 g lamb – 7.8 g niacin
Niacin is also found in green peas, peanuts, beef, sunflower seeds, avocado, asparagus, liver, broccoli, and veal.
Here are the answers to some most frequently asked questions about vitamin B3:
1. Can you take vitamin B3 supplements while pregnant?
If you are wondering, is niacin safe during pregnancy, the answer is yes. Niacin is safe if taken within the RDA of 18 to 35 mg per day.
2. What happens if you take too much of vitamin B3 in pregnancy?
Niacin and pregnancy are interlinked as niacin is essential for the proper development of the baby’s brain. However, taking too much vitamin B3 can cause side effects like skin flushes and liver damage.
Vitamin B3 is a vital nutrient essential for pregnant women to ensure the healthy development of the unborn baby. However, talk to your obstetrician before taking vitamin B3 supplements. The doctor will decide if you require it and will recommend a dosage that is suitable for you.