The Best Sources of Niacin in Foods

by Melodie Anne Coffman, Demand Media Google
    Breakfast cereal is often fortified with niacin.

    Breakfast cereal is often fortified with niacin.

    Niacin is a type of B vitamin that has a major role in the functioning of your metabolism. Biological reactions that pull energy from carbohydrates, protein and fat rely on niacin, since this vitamin catalyses reactions responsible for these metabolic functions. Niacin is readily available in a variety of foods, so you are most likely already meeting your recommendation.

    Recommended Intake

    Men and women have different daily niacin requirements. Women need 14 milligrams of daily niacin, unless they are pregnant, in which case intake increases to 18 milligrams. Breastfeeding women need 17 milligrams of niacin per day. Adult men require 16 milligrams per day, explains the Linus Pauling Institute.

    Grain Foods

    Grains are naturally rich in B vitamins, including niacin. Opting for enriched or fortified grain foods further increases your niacin intake. For example, unfortified breakfast cereal usually has less than 10 milligrams of niacin per serving. Selecting fortified breakfast cereal instead offers up to 30 milligrams of niacin per serving. Whole-wheat bread offers nearly 1.5 milligrams per slice, but you can get more than 10 milligrams by choosing enriched whole-wheat bread as an alternative. Rice is often enriched with B vitamins. Enriched white rice provides approximately 8 milligrams of niacin per 1-cup cooked serving.

    Legumes and Beans

    Snacking on peanuts in the afternoon sneaks a small amount of niacin into your diet. One ounce of peanuts has around 4 milligrams of niacin; however, peanuts are also high in fat and calories. Measuring your serving ahead of time helps you avoid consuming too much. Lentils provide more than 1 milligram of niacin per one-half-cup cooked portion. Pair hot lentils with your grilled chicken dinner or chill them after cooking and sprinkle them on your salad at lunch. One cup of cooked soybeans has more than 2 milligrams of niacin. The same amount of lima beans has slightly less than soybeans, while kidney beans offer more than 1 milligram of niacin per cup.

    Fish, Seafood and Meat

    Virtually all types of fish, seafood and meat in your diet offer some level of niacin. Salmon and canned tuna are full of niacin, providing more than 8 milligrams and greater than 11 milligrams per 3-ounce serving, respectively. Three ounces of steamed blue crab meat or canned shrimp each provide approximately 2.5 milligrams of niacin. Both lobster and Alaska king crab contain around 1 milligram of niacin in a 3-ounce portion. You'll get about 3 milligrams of niacin from 3 ounces of cooked lean beef or more than 7 milligrams from the same amount of grilled chicken breast.

    About the Author

    Melodie Anne Coffman has been writing for various online and print publications since 1996, specializing in human and animal nutrition. After receiving her master's degree in food science and human nutrition, she opened up her own nutrition consulting business in the New England area.

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