Niacin deficiency

Severe niacin deficiency causes the disease known as pellagra. Symptoms include the " three D's ": diarrhea, dementia and dermatitis. The most characteristic sign is a reddish skin rash on the face, hands and feet which becomes rough and dark when exposed to sunlight. Other symptoms include weakness, loss of appetite, lethargy, a sore mouth and tongue, inflamed membranes in the intestinal tract and diarrhea. Nervous system effects include dementia, tremors, irritability, anxiety, confusion and depression. Pellagra may actually be a complex disorder involving thiamin, riboflavin and other nutrients. Niacin deficiency was originally observed in cultures whose diets relied heavily on corn prepared in a way which left the niacin unavailable for absorption.

Niacin deficiencyLarge amounts of tryptophan can overcome a niacin-poor diet and deficiency is usually seen in those whose diets are low in both niacin and protein. People at risk of deficiency include those with absorption difficulties, alcoholics, the elderly who neglect their diet, some infants and pregnant women.



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