Niacin Deficiency Overview
Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin, which is also known as nicotinic acid or vitamin B3.
Nicotinamide is the derivative of niacin and used by the body to form the coenzymes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP). B vitamins help the body to convert carbohydrates into fuel, which is used to produce energy. They are important for healthy skin, eyes and liver, and for the nervous system to properly function. Niacin also assists in maintaining proper body circulation. The most common symptoms of niacin deficiency involve the skin, the digestive system, and the nervous system.
The best food sources of niacin are animal and fish by-products, distiller’s grains and Brewer's yeast, various distillation and fermentation solubles and certain oilseed meals. In addition, foods that contain tryptophan, an amino acid the body coverts into niacin.
The availability of niacin in grain and grain by-products is very low. However, when chicks hatch they have considerable tryptophan contained in the protein of the yolk, if fully absorbed; thus a niacin deficiency will not readily occur unless the feed is low for both the amino acid and the vitamin. The NRC (1994) recommends from 10 to 65 mg of niacin per kg (4.5 to 29.5 mg/lb) of feed for various classes of poultry. However more recent studies confirm that the niacin requirement for chickens, especially newborn, growing chicks, is 80 mg/kg (36.4 mg/lb) feed.
Foods with highest amounts of niacin include:Tuna (light, canned, packed in water) - 3 ounces (8.6-11.3 mg of Niacin)Peanuts, dry roasted - 1 oz (3.8 mg of Niacin)Lentils, cooked - 1 cup (2.1 mg of Niacin)