Editor’s Note: Importance of good nutrition, emphasizing vitamin B3 (niacin). Not many people know that Vitamin B3 can benefit kidney health. However, past and present studies (see references below) have shown that this powerful vitamin can confer significant benefits to those with kidney disease.
What Is Vitamin B3?
Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, niacinamide, and nicotinic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that it dissolves in water, but not fat or oil. It is not stored in the body – any niacin that our body does not need is excreted in urine. Therefore, we need to consume it on a daily basis to replenish supplies. Vitamin B3 is one of the eight vitamins in the B group (also frequently referred to as B complex vitamins). The vitamins in this group help the body make use of fats and proteins, convert carbohydrates in the food into glucose, a fuel that is then used to create energy. Vitamin B3 also helps the adrenal glands (located just above the kidneys) and other parts of the body make various stress- and sex-related hormones. It also assists in improving circulation and regulating cholesterol levels. We need niacin to maintain proper digestive function, as well as to keep
our skin and nerves healthy.
How Vitamin B3 Benefits Kidney Health
One of the complications of kidney disease is the elevated levels of phosphorus. Phosphorus is a mineral that, along with calcium, is commonly found in the bones. Both of these elements are needed to build healthy, strong bones. Besides the bones, however, phosphorus also helps maintain other parts of our body in a healthy state.
Kidneys that work normally can remove extra phosphorus from the blood. In Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), however, when the kidney function is decreased, phosphorus is not removed that well. The resulting high levels can damage the body, because extra phosphorus causes chemical changes that pull calcium out from the bones, making them weaker as a result.
High phosphorus and calcium levels can also lead to dangerous calcium deposits in blood vessels, lungs, eyes, and the heart. Both phosphorus and calcium control are very important for overall health and well-being.
Both past and recent studies have demonstrated that Vitamin B3 can control phosphorus levels from becoming elevated in kidney disease. This evidence suggests that nicotinic acid, vitamin B3, and its metabolites may effectively decrease phosphorus absorption in the gastrointestinal tract, thereby reducing serum phosphorus concentrations.
In addition to phosphorus regulation, vitamin B3 can also improve cholesterol levels, which is another common complication seen in kidney disease patients. So, to anyone with CKD, this information should be doubly exciting: not only because there is a new vitamin treatment that helps regulate phosphorus levels, preventing potential damages to the body, but also because cholesterol levels can be improved as a result.
Reference: Kalakeche R, Rennick A, Seel L, Shepler B. Nicotinic acid, and nicotinamide:
A review of their use for hyperphosphatemia in dialysis patients. Pharmacotherapy, 2013, 33(6):683-90. DOI: 10.1002/phar.1258.
Further reading on vitamin B3:
- Top 10 foods rich in vitamin B3
- Niacin’s may have a beneficial effect on lifespan
- A study: Vitamin B3 holds promise for treating polycystic kidney disease (PKD) – KUMC: University of Kansas Medical Center