Pellagra is medical condition characterized by diarrhea, dermatitis, and dementia. The primary cause of Pellagra is deficiency of vitamin B3 or niacin. This condition is normally seen in third world countries where still there are many people who live without proper food and nutrition. Pellagra is extremely rare in the United States. If left untreated Pellagra can prove to be fatal. The skin and the gastrointestinal tract are the regions most affected with Pellagra. This is the reason as to why people with this condition develop diarrhea and dermatitis.
The rash caused by Pellagra is mainly seen on the face, lips, and the upper and lower extremities. When this condition progresses to affect the brain, then dementia develops. There are basically two types of Pellagra namely primary and secondary. The primary form develops when there is little to no intake of vitamin B3 or niacin for a prolonged period of time.
The secondary form occurs when the body is not able to absorb the vitamin B3 in the food that is ingested. This form of Pellagra is normally caused by certain medical conditions or medications. This condition may be serious but is definitely treatable and preventable.
How Do You Prevent Pellagra?
Although Pellagra is a preventable disease, there are certain situations where this condition may be unpreventable. These situations are:
Medical Conditions: People with underlying conditions like diabetes have problems with absorption of vitamin B3 from the food which ultimately results in the development of Pellagra.
Medications: There are certain medications like antibiotics which affect the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B3 which ultimately results in the individual developing Pellagra.
However, apart from the situations mentioned above Pellagra is definitely preventable. Some of the ways to prevent Pellagra are:
Drinking Alcohol in Moderation: When an individual abuses alcohol, various nutrients including vitamin B3 are eliminated from the body through urine. Chronic alcoholics not only have deficiency of vitamin B3 but also other nutrients. Thus it is recommended for individuals who abuse alcohol to seek help from support groups to prevent them from developing a condition like Pellagra.
Healthy Diet: To prevent Pellagra it is necessary to eat a diet that is healthy and well balanced. A diet rich in vitamin B3 is essential for preventing development of Pellagra. Some of the foods that are rich in vitamin B3 are fish, chicken, and nuts.
Vitamin B3 Supplements: Individuals who are at risk for developing Pellagra may benefit from taking vitamin B3 supplements to prevent development of Pellagra. Normally a vitamin B complex is recommended as it covers all the vitamin B deficiencies if present including vitamin b3 which causes Pellagra.