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Vitamin B3 (Molecule of the Month for February 1997)

Nicotinic acid, niacin, 3-pyridine carboxylic, Structures of Vitamins

Vitamins are substances that play an essential part in animal metabolic processes, but which the animals cannot synthesise. In their absence the animal develops certain deficiency diseases or other abnormal conditions. Vitamins are chemicals other than proteins, carbohydrates, fats and mineral salts that are essential constituents of the food of animals. Although certain animals can synthesise certain vitamins and all animals needing vitamin D can manufacture it from ergosterol in the presence of u.v. light, the precise mechanism of action of many vitamins is still poorly understood. Small amounts of vitamins are essential for the regulation of all bodily processes. With the exception of vitamin D, the human body cannot make its own vitamins, and some cannot be stored. Vitamins must therefore be obtained from a food on a daily basis. A person's diet must provide all the necessary vitamins.

Vitamin B3, nicotinic acid, niacin, or 3-pyridine carboxylic is involved in the oxidative release of energy from food, protects the skin and helps improve circulation. Nicotinic acid is an essential component of mammalian diet. It is the pellagra-preventing factor of vitamin B. The amide, nicotinamide is incorporated into nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide.

It can be prepared synthetically by oxidizing nicotine with a variety of agents or more cheaply from pyridine or quinoline.

Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)

Picture of Vitamin B3

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Picture of Vitamin B3

Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for February 1997 )