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137: How to Get Enough Niacin From Food

Chris Masterjohn Lite Episode 137


Here’s how to get NIACIN from FOOD. 🍲😋

I recommend getting a half gram to a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight (double this if you measure your weight in kilograms), which contributes to your niacin status, as well as 20 milligrams of preformed niacin from food per day.

So, here are your foods, arranged in five tiers.

Tier 1 supplies close to 15 mg or more per serving.

Fresh yellowfin or shipjack tuna, anchovies, liver (beef, lamb, pork), unfortified nutritional yeast in the amount of 3 heaping tbsp.

Tier 2 supplies 7-14 mg per serving. 

Peanuts and peanut butter, liver (veal, chicken, turkey), most fresh meat products from typical farm animals and game if they are lean cuts, certain fish (canned or fresh bluefin tuna, salmon, mackerel, yellowfin, halibut, American shad, sturgeon, cod, mahimahi, and bluefish), certain seeds (hemp, chia, sunflower).

Tier 3 supplies 3-6 mg per serving. 

Most but not all other finfish (but not shellfish); sesame seeds and tahini, pumpkin and squash seeds, pine nuts, almonds, chestnuts, flax seeds, peas, cuts of meat that are not muscle or liver or are fattier, many mushrooms (white, portabella, shiitake, oyster, crimini), coffee (caffeinated, Italian “heavy” roast, 10 g/cup).

Tier 4 supplies 1-2 mg per serving. 

Bulking up on these “don’t hurt” your niacin status.

Most beans, most crustaceans, processed meats, white and sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, cabbage, coffee (caffeinated, 10 g/cup, French “dark” roast, at high end or New England “light” roast at low end).

Tier 5 supplies less than 1 mg per serving. 

Virtually all other foods that are not mostly fat, mostly sugar, or unenriched refined flours contain some niacin. They are harmless if you eat abundantly from tiers 1-3 first, but harmful if you do not, especially if they also serve to stop you from bulking up on tier 4 foods, which is necessary if you don’t meet your requirement from tiers 1-3.

Just bad for niacin status. 

Fat, sugar, and unenriched refined flours are the most displacing. The more of these foods you eat, the lower your niacin status will be.

Most enriched flours are in tier 2 or 3. 

Traditionally processed whole grains are likely to occupy tier 4.

Honorable Mentions 

Some foods are rich but not consumed in enough quantity to be relevant: dried spirulina, chilli powder, coriander, paprika, parsley, ginger, tarragon, red or cayenne pepper would all occupy tier 2 at 100-gram servings

Here’s a massive 2-part podcast series I did on niacin with Alex Leaf, which has 52 scientific references:

Niacin Part 1: What It Is and Why You Need It

Niacin Part 2: Blood Tests, Foods, and Supplements

Here are other recent episodes on niacin:

Should You Inject Yourself With NAD+?

The Best Form of Niacin for Anti-Aging

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Chris Masterjohn Lite
“Chris Masterjohn Lite” is a running series of quick tip videos lasting two to five minutes where the name of the game is “Details? Shmetails! Just tell me what works!”
Chris Masterjohn, PhD