Nutrient overload: How excess vitamin B3 can impact your heart

Nutrient overload: How excess vitamin B3 can impact your heart

Taking vitamins to supplement your diet may seem like a good idea to improve your overall health. After all, you can conveniently find supplements at most local stores. However, what you may not have considered is that you could be overloading your body with too much of one nutrient.

A recent study found that 1 in 4 U.S. adults exceed the daily recommendation of vitamin B3, also known as niacin, which helps convert food into energy. Researchers found that consuming high levels of this essential vitamin increases your risk of heart disease.

“As excess niacin breaks down, it produces the molecule 4PY which directly causes vascular inflammation,” explains Dr. Hetal Gandhi, a cardiologist at Advocate Health Care. “This molecule elevates your risk of a cardiovascular event, such a heart attack or stroke.”

The daily recommendation of vitamin B3 is 16mg for men, 14 mg for women and 18mg if you are pregnant.

Most people consume the recommended daily amount of niacin through their diet – the best way to receive all nutrients, according to experts. Vitamin B3-rich foods include various types of meats, nuts, legumes and grains. It’s also commonly found in fortified and enriched products, like bread and cereal.

So, do you need to be cautious about eating foods with vitamin B3? Not exactly.

“Consuming foods high in vitamin B3 is generally not a concern, but excessive intake in supplement form is a concern as it can negatively impact your cardiovascular health,” says Dr. Gandhi.

If you want to improve your heart health, it’s best to look away from the supplement aisle and instead look at your diet.

“While supplemental vitamins may contribute to overall health enhancement, studies have not demonstrated their beneficial effects on improving cardiovascular health,” says Dr. Gandhi. “Instead, focus on eating a balanced diet that is low in saturated fats and trans-fats. You’ll notice how easy it is to reach the daily vitamin B3 recommendation through diet alone.”

Before making changes to your diet or starting a new supplement, contact your health care provider.

Take a free online quiz to learn more about your risk for heart disease.

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  1. I take a daily B-Complex vit. Is that ok? I will have to check the amount of B3 per capsule.

  2. Is Niacinamide the same as Niacin/B3? My senior multi-vitamin has 20mg of Niacinamide. Is that too much?

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About the Author

Anna Kohler
Anna Kohler

Anna Kohler, health enews contributor, is an external communications specialist for Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She received her bachelor's degree in public relations from Illinois State University and has worked in health care public relations and content marketing for over five years. In her free time, she enjoys working out, exploring new places with her friends and family, and keeping up with the latest social media trends.