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12 Foods Rich In Vitamin B3 (Niacin) You Should Eat

Foods Rich In Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Getting vitamin B3 (niacin) through your diet isn't difficult, what with delicious pork chops, melt-in-the-mouth tenderloin, succulent lamb, juicy chicken, and even bacon on the list. Fresh produce like mushrooms, green peas, avocado, peanuts, brown rice, and sunflower seeds round off the list.

Are you looking for ways to increase your dietary intake of niacin or vitamin B3? While this is one vitamin your own body does make on its own as well, it isn’t stored in the body, so you will need to keep up intake with a variety of foods on an ongoing basis. Luckily, there are multiple food sources of the nutrient, so it doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Here is a range of foods that should help you keep it exciting and nutritious!

Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin that you need for energy production. It also helps with the normal function of 200 enzymes in the body.1 Inadequate intake could put you at risk of pellagra, a condition that results in skin irritation, may bring on diarrhea, and can even cause dementia.2

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin B3 is 14 mg for women and 16 mg for adult men. Women need more niacin when they are pregnant or breastfeeding, so raise intake to 18 mg during the pregnancy and 17 mg if lactating.3 According to the latest available Food and Drug Administration labeling values, the daily value (DV), which helps understand how much of the nutrient you’ll get in standard servings, for niacin intake is set at 16 mg for adults.4 So look for foods with 20% DV or 3.2 mg or more of niacin/vitamin B3 if you are aiming to consume more vitamin B3-rich foods. What follows is a list of some of the richest dietary sources of the nutrient.

1. Fish

3 oz cooked yellowfin tuna has 18.76 mg vitamin B3 (117.3% DV).

Discover a love of seafood if you don’t already enjoy fish. After all, this healthy protein choice is loaded with good fats, vitamins, and minerals including niacin. Crumb fry or grill some fish and serve it with a fresh salad or just a wedge of lemon. Use it to make potato and fish croquette or fish fingers or cook up a light and summery tomato-based fish soup or stew. If you like something a little more exotic, how about a creamy coconut-based fish curry made Thai style, fragrant with lemongrass and galangal? Or a simple Hawaiian style poke that uses only the freshest tuna in a light salad laced with toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, and crushed red pepper. Here’s how they stack up on niacin:

  • Yellowfin tuna, cooked (dry heat), 3 oz: 18.76 mg (117.3% DV)5
  • Mackerel, cooked (dry heat), 3 oz: 9.07 mg (56.7% DV)6
  • Pink salmon, cooked (dry heat), 3 oz: 8.15 mg (50.9% DV)7
  • Swordfish, cooked (dry heat), 3 oz: 7.87 mg (49.2% DV)8
  • Halibut, cooked (dry heat), 3 oz: 6.72 mg (42.0% DV)9

2. Liver

A 3 oz serving of braised beef liver has 14.9 mg vitamin B3 (93.1% DV).

A 3 oz serving of braised beef liver: 14.9 mg (93.1% DV)

A 3 oz serving of braised beef liver has 14.9 mg (93.1% DV) of vitamin B3.10 A similar serving of braised lamb liver contains 10.33 mg (64.6% DV) of niacin.11 Which is great if you enjoy the unique meaty flavor of liver. Just be careful not to make this your mainstay – liver is high in fat and vitamin A which can be bad in excess. Cook your liver braised off or pan fried with onion and spices. Make a delicious liver stir-fry combining liver with potatoes, bacon, onions or spring onions, and some paprika.

3. Poultry

A 3 oz serving of roast chicken breast has 11.79 mg vitamin B3 (73.7% DV).

A 3 oz serving of roast chicken breast: 11.79 mg (73.7% DV)

A 3 oz serving of roast chicken breast (about half a breast on average) has 11.79 mg of niacin – that’s 73.7% DV.12 Prefer turkey? A 3 oz serving of roast turkey breast has 9.99 mg of vitamin B3, which is 62.4% DV.13 Use chicken or turkey sliced thinly in sandwiches or salads, made into curries and stews, or roasted whole with a variety of sides.

4. Mushrooms

A cup of portabella mushrooms has 7.57 mg vitamin B3 (47.3% DV).

  • A cup of portabella mushrooms: 7.57 mg (47.3% DV)
  • A cup of shiitake mushrooms: 3.75 mg of (23.4% DV)

Topping the mushroom charts on vitamin B3 content is the portabella mushroom. A cup of the grilled mushrooms contains a whopping 7.57 mg or 47.3% DV of niacin.14 Stir-fried white mushrooms contain 4.31 mg of niacin (26.9% DV) per cup.15 You can make them the highlight of the meal by simply grilling them off with a pat of butter and some herbs, or use them sliced up and added to a meaty wok tossed recipe. Mushrooms also work well in one-pot meals that use beans, vegetables, or meat.

A cup of sliced shiitake mushrooms that have been stir-fried contains 3.75 mg of niacin or 23.4% DV of the nutrient.16 These mushrooms are great in Asian stir-fries or soups with their distinctive flavor.

5. Pork

A 3 oz portion of pork tenderloin has 6.32 mg vitamin B3 (39.5% DV).

A 3 oz portion of pork tenderloin: 6.32 mg (39.5% DV)

A 3 oz portion of pork tenderloin contains 6.32 mg (39.5% DV) of vitamin B3, so you could consider adding it to your diet now and then.17 Braised pork chops contain about 6.27 mg of vitamin B3 per 3 oz serving. That’s 39.2% DV.18 Make yourself some Jamaican pork chops with a mango salsa on the side or a divine herb crusted pork loin that’s cooked to perfection in the oven. Or cook them with the bone in, allowing the fat to be rendered, and serve them with a side of fresh greens and mashed potato. Teriyaki marinades also go down well with pork as does barbecue sauce.

If you’re feeling like indulging in a bacon breakfast, you should know that having two slices gets you 1.72 mg or 10.8% DV of niacin.19 Just keep an eye on that fat intake though!

6. Lamb

A 3 oz serving of roast lamb shank has 5.43 mg vitamin B3 (33.9% DV).

A 3 oz serving of roast lamb shank: 5.43 mg (33.9% DV)

If you prefer lamb, 3 ounces of roast lamb shank give you 5.43 mg of vitamin B3, which is 33.9% DV.20 And there’s nothing quite as delicious as a well-cooked lamb shank with the meat falling off the bone. Slow cook them by braising so they soak up all the vegetable and meat flavors as they cook.

A 3 oz serving of cubed lamb, braised to perfection, delivers a good 5.06 mg of niacin – that’s 31.6% DV.[/ref]Lamb, domestic, cubed for stew or kabob (leg and shoulder), separable lean only, trimmed to 1/4” fat, cooked, braised. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.[/ref] You could also use lamb to make palate-teasing kebabs laced with flavors of dried mint and spices, with a side of yogurt dip. Or cook up a lamb tagine with some flavorsome couscous or rice dotted with dried fruit and nuts.

7. Beef

A 3 oz serving of grilled beef tenderloin: 4.77 mg vitamin B3 (29.8% DV).

A 3 oz serving of grilled beef tenderloin: 4.77 mg (29.8% DV)

Grilled beef tenderloin steak has 4.77 mg of niacin (29.8% DV) per 3 oz serving.21 This tender cut of beef doesn’t need too much effort, so toss together a simple, delicious meal that makes this meat shine. Make a pepper or wine sauce and some grilled shallots to go with it. Or how about a creamy comforting beef stroganoff or old-school beef Wellington. Alternatively, you could look east for some delicious ways with beef that incorporate Thai or Chinese flavors.

8. Peanuts

An ounce of peanuts has 3.42 mg of niacin (21.4% DV).

An ounce of peanuts: 3.42 mg (21.4% DV)

An ounce of peanuts has 3.42 mg of niacin (21.4% DV) so you could stock up on some for their vitamin B3 content.22 Peanuts are a munchable snack on their own once you roast them off with some salt and spices. But you could also try a Thai salad, a peanut sauce with peanut-flavored grilled chicken satay, or even a West African peanut soup. If you’d like to give in to that sweet tooth of yours, a chocolate and peanut tart or brownies with peanuts added in, or even a simple scoop of ice cream topped with the toasted peanuts can be heaven. Just be warned, they do contain a lot of fat and calories so avoid bingeing or making these your primary or only source of niacin.

9. Green Peas

A cup of boiled fresh green peas has 3.23 mg vitamin B3 (20.2% DV).

A cup of boiled fresh green peas: 3.23 mg (20.2% DV)

Fresh green peas that have been boiled contain 3.23 mg (20.2% DV) per cup.23 These delicious sweet peas are fabulous simply steamed or lightly tossed in some olive oil. But you could also use them in pasta or risotto recipes or a vegetarian pilaf.

If you enjoy the convenience of frozen peas, you should know that they contain a little less niacin than the fresh kind, but are a good source of the nutrient nonetheless. A cup of cooked (from frozen) green peas has 2.37 mg (14.8% DV) of the vitamin.24

10. Avocado

A cup of cubed avocado has 2.61 mg vitamin B3 (16.3% DV).

A cup of cubed avocado: 2.61 mg (16.3% DV)

Avocado is another good way to get that niacin in. A cup of cubed avocado has 2.61 mg of vitamin B3 – that’s 16.3% DV.25 Dice or puree some to use as a dip, salsa, or ingredient in salads. Or scoop out the insides and fill them with rice, chicken, beans or lentils with the flesh added in for a healthy alternative to crostini or burritos. You can also use avocado to make keto brownies!

11. Brown Rice

A cup of cooked medium-grained brown rice: 2.59 mg of vitamin B3 (16.2% DV).

A cup of cooked medium-grained brown rice: 2.59 mg (16.2% DV)

A cup of cooked medium-grained brown rice has 2.59 mg or 16.2% DV of vitamin B6 in it.26 With its nutty flavor, it pairs well with lemony and herby flavors. Add some charred corn, tomato, cilantro and beans for a Mexican-inspired rice salad. Or make a batch of Southern-style risotto or pilaf with it. The rice even works well in a chicken and rice soup. For something sweeter, how about a coconut-flavored brown rice pudding?

12. Sunflower Seeds

An ounce of sunflower seeds has 2.36 mg vitamin B3 (14.8% DV).

An ounce of sunflower seeds: 2.36 mg (14.8% DV)

Rounding off this list is a food that’s really convenient to use and readily available at most stores. Sunflower seeds. They have about 2.36 mg (14.8% DV) of niacin to the ounce.27. So sprinkle these little kernels of goodness over your favorite bowl of porridge, oatmeal, or parfait. Add them to smoothies or yogurt for some crunch. Use them in salads or liberally scatter them on breads or muffin before you bake them.

That’s our list of a dozen niacin-rich foods for you to try. Experiment with different ways of cooking these and you’ll never have a boring meal again.

References   [ + ]

1. Food Sources of Niacin (Vitamin B3). Dietitians of Canada.
2. Niacin. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
3. Niacin. University of Rochester Medical Center.
4. Labeling Daily Values. National Institutes of Health.
5. Fish, tuna, yellowfin, fresh, cooked, dry heat. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
6. Fish, mackerel, Pacific and jack, mixed species, cooked, dry heat. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
7. Fish, salmon, pink, cooked, dry heat. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
8. Fish, swordfish, cooked, dry heat.United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
9. Fish, halibut, Atlantic and Pacific, cooked, dry heat. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
10. Beef, variety meats and by-products, liver, cooked, braised. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
11. Lamb, variety meats and by-products, liver, cooked, braised. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
12. Chicken, broilers or fryers, breast, meat only, cooked, roasted. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
13. Turkey, whole, breast, meat only, cooked, roasted. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
14. Mushrooms, portabella, grilled. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
15. Mushrooms, white, stir-fried. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
16. Mushrooms, shiitake, stir-fried. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
17. Pork, fresh, loin, tenderloin, separable lean only, cooked, roasted. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
18. Pork, fresh, loin, blade (chops), bone-in, separable lean and fat, cooked, braised. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
19. Pork, cured, bacon, cooked, baked. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
20. Lamb, leg, shank half, separable lean only, trimmed to 1/4” fat, choice, cooked, roasted. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
21. Beef, loin, tenderloin steak, boneless, separable lean and fat, trimmed to 0” fat, all grades, cooked, grilled. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
22. Peanuts, all types, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
23. Peas, green, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
24. Peas, green, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
25. Avocados, raw, all commercial varieties. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
26. Rice, brown, medium-grain, cooked. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
27. Seeds, sunflower seed kernels, dried. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.