Niacin is a B group vitamin (vitamin B-3) that is used by your body to convert carbohydrates into sugar (glucose), which your body then uses for energy.

Niacin can raise HDL (the “good” cholesterol) by 15 percent to 35 percent. This makes niacin one of the most effective Vitamins available for raising HDL cholesterol. While niacin’s effect on HDL is of most interest, it’s worth noting that niacin also decreases your LDL (bad Cholesterol) and triglyceride levels. High levels of LDL and triglycerides are significant risk factors for heart disease.

HDL, or “good,” cholesterol picks up excess (LDL) bad cholesterol in your blood and takes it back to your liver for disposal. The higher your HDL cholesterol, the less bad cholesterol you’ll have in your blood.

Vitamin B3 is also required for cell respiration, helps in the release of energy and metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, proper circulation and healthy skin, functioning of the nervous system, and normal secretion of bile and stomach fluids. It is used in the synthesis of sex hormones, in treating schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, and as a memory-enhancer.

A deficiency in Vitamin B3 may cause pellagra, the classic niacin deficiency disease, and is characterized by bilateral dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia.

A shortage of niacin may be indicated with symptoms such as canker sores, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue, halitosis, headaches, indigestion, insomnia, limb pains, loss of appetite, low blood sugar, muscular weakness, skin eruptions, and inflammation.