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Pellagra is a nutritional deficiency caused by a lack of niacin in the body. Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, plays essential roles such as improving blood circulation, alleviating migraines, lowering cholesterol, and improving diabetes control.

This nutritional deficiency arises from the low consumption of foods rich in vitamin B3, as well as can appear in diseases where there is difficulty in intestinal absorption and metabolism of this nutrient, being common in patients with Crohn’s disease, rectocolitis and alcoholism, for example.

Pellagra Symptoms

The main symptoms of pellagra are:



Dementia (in more advanced cases)





Diagnosis is made through laboratory tests of urine and blood, as well as the patient’s dietary history. Therefore, seeking help from nutritionists, general practitioners, nutritionists and gastroenterologists is essential to obtain an early diagnosis, as pellagra can present worrying complications when left untreated.

Pellagra treatment

Pellagra is treated with vitamin B3 replacement, which can be done with nicotinamide or nicotinic acid. It is preferable to perform nicotinamide replacement because of the fewest adverse effects. Thus, doctors usually write a prescription for nicotinamide to be formulated in compounding pharmacies.

If the disease is not treated, complications can arise, such as: apathy, confusion, disorientation, irritability, mood swings and headaches.

In addition, in the long term, complications can be even more serious. Prolonged niacin deficiency can lead to dementia and even death.

Foods with Vitamin B3

Disease prevention can be done through a healthy diet with all the essential nutrients, as well as a healthy diet rich in nutrients can contribute to a more effective treatment. Here are some foods with vitamin B3 to include in the menu:


Fish like tuna and cod


Sunflower seed

chicken with potatoes



dark green vegetables

Tryptophan role

Tryptophan also plays an important role in the treatment of pellagra: It is an amino acid that transforms into niacin and therefore the consumption of foods rich in tryptophan can help in the treatment of pellagra, as there may be greater conversion of tryptophan into niacin. Some of these foods are:






Brown rice




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