Niacin (Vitamin B3) Increases Memory Test Scores Up To 40 Percent And Extends Lifespan
by Michael Mooney
Updated January, 2015

There are lots of questions about nutrients for healthy brain function. What works? What doesn’t? Of all the nutrients reported to be beneficial to the brain, one of the best, least talked about “smart nutrients” may be niacin (nicotinic acid), one of the two forms of vitamin B3. (Niacinamide is the other form of vitamin B-3.)

The following study showed that two types of niacin, at a moderate dose, improved memory test scores up to 40 percent.

Loriaux SM, et al. The effects of nicotinic acid and xanthinol nicotinate on human memory in different categories of age. A double blind study. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 1985;87 (4):390-395.

Abstract: The treatment effect of nicotinic acid and xanthinol nicotinate on human memory was compared with placebo in 96 healthy subjects. Forty-three subjects were young (35-45 years), 30 subjects were middle aged (55-65 years) and 23 subjects were old aged (75-85 years). Pre- and post- treatment scores were measured on a battery of memory tasks, covering sensory register, short-term memory and long-term memory. The treatment regime was 1 dragee t.i.d. for 8 weeks. The administration of xanthinol nicotinate (500 mg, containing 141.7 mg nicotinic acid), nicotinic acid (141.7 mg) and placebo (lactose) was double-blind. Pre- and post- treatment scores were analyzed by means of a multivariate covariance technique, the pre-treatment score serving as covariate. Nicotinic acid treatment resulted in improvement of sensory register and short-term memory, while xanthinol nicotinate improved sensory register, short-term memory and long-term memory. In comparison with placebo, both active compounds yielded improvements of 10-40%, depending on the task. Treatment effects of nicotinic acid were predominantly found in the young and middle-aged, whereas treatment effects of xanthinol nicotinate were predominantly found in the old. These results are interpreted by the supposed activity of nicotinic acid at the cell membrane, improving neuronal transmission, and of xanthinol nicotinate inside the cell, enhancing cell metabolism and oxygen supply in the brain.

Michael's Comment: Other studies indicate that niacin may improve memory because niacin is necessary for the healthy functioning of an enzyme that neutralizes brain toxins that are known to interfere with normal healthy brain metabolism.

Niacin improved short-term memory by up to 40% at a moderate dose of 141.7 mg three times per day (equals 425.1 mg total per day) for people up to 65 years old. To make it easy, one could buy 500 mg slow-release niacin tablets and take one in the morning with breakfast.

I would still consider taking niacin if I was over 65. However, this study showed that the xanthinol nicotinate form of niacin worked better for seniors for improving long-term memory, too.

Buying Xanthinol Nicotinate
At this time I could only find one place to buy the same sustained-release xanthinol nicotinate that was used in the above study.

To be clear, 500 mg of xanthinol nicotinate yields 141.7 mg of niacin. While a few sites sell the lower potency 150 mg product, it only delivers 42.5 mg of niacin.

I buy the correct dosage from

Also note that the subjects in the study took one 500 mg xanthinol nicotinate tablet three times a day. I assume that one could take twice as much and it would work even better. I'm taking it and, even though I am only 61 years old, I do notice that I feel more mentally sharp and clear.

Niacin Increases Lifespan
At very high doctor-prescribed therapeutic doses, such as 3,000 mg per day, niacin has also been shown to increase the lifespan of men who had heart attacks by 11 percent longer than was expected in an eight-year U.S. Government-sponsored study of 8,341 men by Canner. Niacin was also shown to be more effective for lowering cholesterol than the five leading cholesterol-lowering drugs .

See also:

And read about the other form of vitamin B3, niacinamide, curing Alzheimer's Disease in mice and reversing Alzheimer's-related memory loss so convincingly that a human study at UCLA is looking at high dose niacinamide for people with Alzheimer's Disease. Very exciting.

Always consult your doctor before any use of niacin for a medical condition.