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Niacin Benefits for Depression

author image Stephanie Crumley Hill
Stephanie Crumley Hill is a childbirth educator who for more than 20 years has written professionally about pregnancy, family and a variety of health and medical topics. A former print magazine editor, her insurance articles for “Resource” magazine garnered numerous awards. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Georgia.
Niacin Benefits for Depression
Depressed woman in bed Photo Credit: Andrea Morini/Photodisc/Getty Images

Depression affects roughly 25 million adults in America each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and it is more common in women than men. While there is presently no cure for depression, there are a number of medications that can alleviate the symptoms. Unfortunately, many of these medications cause side effects that leave patients looking for more natural treatment alternatives. Niacin, or vitamin B-3, is one natural alternative that can benefit people with depression. Speak with your health-care provider before taking natural supplements for depression, especially if you are already on other medications.

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Addressing Deficiency

Niacin deficiency can lead to depression, insomnia and anxiety. Left untreated, a niacin deficiency can cause dementia and pellagra, a serious disease that resembles schizophrenia. Niacin can benefit people with depression by relieving any symptoms that could be related to a deficiency of this important vitamin. Depressed patients are frequently deficient in the B vitamin complex. Furthermore, your body cannot store niacin, so you need adequate intake of this important vitamin every day.


In the brain, low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin are associated with depression. One of the building blocks of serotonin is the amino acid tryptophan, and one of the building blocks of tryptophan is niacin. Tryptophan also helps the body supply itself with niacin. If tryptophan is divided between serotonin production and niacin production, serotonin production is likely to be inadequate. Supplemental niacin and tryptophan can improve symptoms of depression.

Improved Mood

The B vitamin niacin is important for proper functioning of all cells, including the cells of the brain and nervous system. When the nervous system is working properly, symptoms such as restlessness, anxiety, mood swings and insomnia can be prevented. You will be more mentally alert when your body is properly supplied with the B vitamin complex, especially niacin. This can help you function better if you have depression and allow for maximum benefit from any other treatments you are receiving for depression, including medication and therapy.

If you or a loved one are suffering symptoms of depression, talk with your doctor.

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