Does Niacin Help With Depression?

With more than 19 million Americans suffering from depression each year, it is considered to be one of the most dangerous mental health disorders around the globe. In the past few decades, several researchers and analysts have tried to study which supplements and food items are most effective in combating depression and reducing its impact. Certain types of vitamin B were the most popular. Does niacin help with depression? This is a commonly asked question, which needs proper understanding.

Does Niacin Help With Depression?

Does Niacin Help With Depression?

Researchers first found the use of niacin or vitamin B3 in improving your heart’s health after which it was also proven that this vitamin has the ability to lower cholesterol and triglycerides levels in the body while giving the HDL plasma levels a boost. However, recent studies revealed the fact that niacin could also prove quite beneficial in improving brain health and in treating depression and associated symptoms to a large extent.

Regular intake of good levels of niacin which is far more than what you get from your supplements and niacin-rich foods helps to treat schizophrenia and depression along with several other mental disorders. The recommended dosage for depression patients is somewhere around 1500 to 5000 mg per day which might be a little alarming for some researchers.

Efficacy of Niacin in Treating Depression

Niacin is being studied for several decades now and has given exceptional results especially for treating depression. It is the low levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter) in the brain which have been found out to be the major cause of depression in patients. Amino acid tryptophan is one of the major building blocks of serotonin while niacin is the major building blocks for tryptophan.

Moreover, tryptophan helps your body with sufficient amounts of niacin in the long run. If there is enough niacin production in your body it will result in proper tryptophan levels which in turn will maintain adequate amounts of serotonin in the brain. This will help eliminate the major cause of depression and allow the patient to feel healthy and mentally fit. If you are unable to get the required amount of niacin from the food you eat, which is most likely to happen, then taking supplemental niacin is the key to staying free from depression.

Niacin Also Helps Improve Mood

Niacin or vitamin B3 is quite vital for proper cell functioning in the body which includes the cells in our nervous system. Insomnia, mood swings, restlessness and anxiety are some symptoms which can be prevented with optimal functioning of the nervous system. A person’s body which is supplied with sufficient amount of B-complex vitamins, especially niacin will be mentally more alert and sound. It can also help keep mental health disorders at bay.

Also, if you are already suffering from depression then taking high doses of niacin will help you derive maximum benefits from medications and other treatment of depression.

Best Food Sources of Niacin

Though food alone is not sufficient to provide the necessary therapeutic dosages of niacin to cure depression, but can be a great source. Another fact that eating foods rich in niacin helps improve your heart health and help lower bad cholesterol, must be considered.

Some of the top food sources of Vitamin B3 or Niacin are:

Fruits and Vegetables – Avocados, sweet potatoes, asparagus, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes and carrots are all rich in niacin.

Animal products – Animal products such as chicken and chicken breasts, beef, eggs and fishes such as salmon, tuna and halibut are quite rich in niacin.

Seeds – Saltbush seeds, legumes, whole grain products, nuts and seeds are rich in niacin.

Fungi – Brewer’s yeast and shiitake mushrooms are fungi which contain good amounts of niacin.

Peanut butter, soy sauce and tofu are also rich in niacin and can be incorporated in your sandwiches, salads, soups and dressings.

Consult your Doctor

When it comes to consuming high doses of any vitamin or mineral, researchers are sure to express their concerns. Although the toxic levels of minerals and vitamins are so high that human beings are simply unable to reach it, people are concerned about it. The good thing about niacin is that it is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that it cannot be stored in your body and this is why it needs to be consumed regularly. The 5,000 mg per day range has shown a plethora of therapeutic benefits for patients without incurring any side effects of the same.

It is mandatory for you to consult your physician before consuming any high dosages of supplements including niacin as a treatment of depression. Your doctor must be aware of any changes in your health or treatment plan to be able to guide you well and provide you with quality care in the future.


Niacin is a wondrous B-complex vitamin which undoubtedly offers a plethora of benefits for the human body. In the past few decades it has been proven that niacin does help with depression. Taking high dosages of niacin can reverse some of the symptoms associated with depression. Talk to your doctor and consider taking niacin to get natural and safe help with your depression.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 14, 2017

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