Niacin is an essential vitamin, also called vitamin B-3 or nicotinic acid. Your body uses it for turning food into energy, as well as for DNA, cell signaling and cell differentiation. Niacin is also prescribed by doctors to help lower LDL cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides. During pregnancy, you don't want to consume too much or too little niacin.
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The recommended dietary intake set by the Food and Nutrition Board for niacin during pregnancy is 18 mg per day. The tolerable upper intake for adults is 35 mg per day. Niacin intake between these two amounts is acceptable during pregnancy. However, intakes above 35 mg per day have not been studied in pregnant women, so they are not generally recommended, according to the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library.
Niacin Status During Pregnancy
Niacin deficiency is also a concern during pregnancy, and it is relatively common according to a study published in 2002 in the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition." The study found that deficiencies in niacin, thiamine, vitamin B-12, vitamin B-6 and vitamin A were common in all three trimesters of pregnancy even with vitamin supplementation.
Therapeutic doses of niacin for lowering cholesterol or triglycerides can be as high as 6 g, which is much higher than the RDA. If you are taking niacin for high LDL or low HDL cholesterol, stop when you become pregnant. However, if you are taking niacin for high triglycerides, discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor since triglycerides often increase during pregnancy.
Get at least the RDA for niacin from foods, including poultry, tuna, salmon, fortified cereals, legumes, yeast, green leafy vegetables and meats, and take a prenatal vitamin that contains niacin to ensure you get enough niacin during your pregnancy. However, do not take other niacin supplements without discussing it with your doctor since higher amounts of niacin may be dangerous.