Niacin is a collective term for various water-soluble natural substances, which are derived from the pyridine-3-carboxylic acid (nicotinic acid) or its amide (nicotinamide). In addition to nicotinic acid and nicotinamide, the two proper biologically active forms of nicotinamide-adenine-dinucleotide (NAD+) and nicotinamide-adenine-dinucleotide-phosphate (NADP+) are vitamin-like. Foods of plant origin contain predominantly nicotinic acid, while foods of animal origin are dominated by nicotinamide in the form of NAD+ and NADP+.
Functions of niacin
In the human metabolism, more than 200 reactions are known of in which the coenzymes (NAD+) or NADP+ play a role. These include the generation of energy and the metabolism of the nervous tissue so that niacin contributes towards a normal energy metabolism and normal function of the nervous system. It also plays a part in the normal mental function and contributes to the reduction in tiredness and fatigue. The epithelial tissue is sensitive to niacin such that the vitamin supports the maintenance of normal skin and mucous membranes.
- Niacin, like vitamin D, holds a special place amongst vitamins as it can be formed in the human metabolism from the essential amino acid L-tryptophane. On average, 60 mg l-tryptophane is required to form 1 mg of niacin. The requirement and the recommended intake of niacin are therefore expressed as niacin equivalents (NE).
The following applies:
- 1 NE = 1 mg of niacin = 60 mg L-tryptophane
- Niacin is sensitive to heat and oxygen. Losses of up to 30 % are to be expected in the storing and preparation of food.
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