The 30 Best Vegan Niacin Food Sources

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Niacin, otherwise known as vitamin B3, is used to produce energy, fatty acids, cholesterol, and more.

It’s also a part of the DNA repair process.

For adults, the recommended daily amount of niacin is 16 mg for men, and 14 mg for women.

There’s also an upper limit of 35 mg. If you reach it, you will experience a “flushing” reaction, usually starting with your face. It’s not serious, but could cause some discomfort.

On to the best vegan sources of niacin.

The Best Vegan Niacin Foods (Per Typical Serving)

While most people are not deficient in niacin, you will need multiple servings of even the best vegan sources to reach the RDA.

All the data in the following table comes right from the USDA’s database.

Food Serving Energy (kcal) Niacin (mg)
Peanuts 0.5 cup 414 8.808
Buckwheat groats 1 cup 567 8.421
Rye grain 1 cup 571 7.216
Sunflower seeds 0.5 cup 409 5.835
Wheat flour (whole-grain) 100 g 332 5.347
White potato 1 large 255 3.934
Eggplant 1 eggplant 137 3.557
Mushrooms 1 cup 21 3.463
Sesame seeds 0.5 cup 413 3.251
Barley 1 cup 193 3.239
Durian 0.5 durian 442 3.233
Peas 1 cup 117 3.03
Pine nuts 0.5 cup 454 2.961
Hemp seeds 3 tbsp 166 2.76
Chia seeds 3 tbsp 146 2.649
Avocado 1 avocado 227 2.6
Corn 1 ear 123 2.531
Spinach 1 bunch 78 2.462
Cowpeas 1 cup 160 2.315
Soybeans 1 cup 254 2.25
Mango 1 fruit 202 2.248
Lentils 1 cup 230 2.099
Melon 0.5 melon 180 2.09
Almonds 1/2 cup 313 1.954
Date 5 dates 332 1.932
Swiss chard 10 leafs 91 1.92
Plantain 1 plantain 329 1.814
Lima beans 1 cup 209 1.768
Nectarine 1 large 69 1.755
Cassava 0.5 root 326 1.742
Artichoke 1 large 76 1.695
Macadamia nut 0.5 cup 481 1.657

There are a few types of foods that really stand out at the top:

  1. Grains – Buckwheat, rye, whole wheat, and barley are all excellent sources of niacin.
  2. Seeds – Sesame seeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds are all in the top half of the list.

Peanuts are the number 1 food, but also the only legume on the list until lentils, which are much lower.

The Best Niacin-Rich Vegan Foods Per 100 Calories

If you’re counting calories, grains and seeds add up quickly.

You may be better off eating several servings of certain vegetables instead, although the volume of food is the trade-off.

These are the best vegan foods for niacin per 100 calories. So if a serving size is 20 calories, that means you have to eat 5 servings to get the amount of niacin in the far right column.

Food Serving Energy (kcal)
Niacin (mg) per 100 calories
Mushrooms 1 cup 21 16.49
Rapini 5 stalks 21 5.52
Asparagus 4 spears 13 5.00
Water spinach 1 cup 11 4.58
Seaweed (dried) 1 tbsp 20 4.49
Napa cabbage 1 cup 13 3.91
Bok choy 1 cup 9 3.89
Red bell pepper 1 large 43 3.73
Kale 2 cup 15 3.31
Tomato 1 large 33 3.28
Spinach 1 bunch 78 3.16
Okra 8 pods 31 3.06
Squash 1 large 52 3.03
Mustard greens 1 cup 15 2.99
Zucchini 1 large 55 2.65
Eggplant 1 eggplant 137 2.60
Peas 1 cup 117 2.59
Nectarine 1 large 69 2.54
Bamboo shoot 1 shoot 17 2.54
Lettuce (red leaf) 0.5 head 20 2.48
Green bell pepper 1 large 33 2.38
Green bean 10 beans 17 2.38
Carrot 1 large 30 2.36
Celery 1 stalk 9 2.28
Artichoke 1 large 76 2.23
Cantaloupe 1/8 of melon 35 2.14
Peanuts 0.5 cup 414 2.13
Swiss chard 10 leafs 91 2.11
Peach 1 medium 58 2.08
Corn 1 ear 123 2.06
Cauliflower 1 cup 27 2.01

There were few vegetables on the first list, but almost the entire list here consists of vegetables.

Mushrooms are the best for niacin by far.

Other than that, spinach and other leafy greens dominate the top of the list. Red bell peppers are excellent not only for niacin, but are also a great vegan source of vitamin C.

Here’s where you need to do some math. If you’re going to avoid grains and seeds altogether, you’ll need several servings of vegetables each day to meet your niacin goals.

If this doesn’t seem doable on a regular basis, include at least some of those seeds or grains in your diet.

The Most Efficient Sources of Niacin

Finally, let’s try to find the best niacin sources if you’re trying to limit how many calories and servings you need to reach your niacin targets.

We can do this by plotting the amount of niacin per serving against the amount per 100 calories.

That chart looks like this (click to enlarge) – note: mushrooms are not on the chart, but would score the best:

best vegan sources of niacin bubble chart

With this type of chart, the best food sources should be towards the top-right section of the chart.

Other than peanuts, nothing stands out too much. Still, it seems like the most balanced niacin sources are:

  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Eggplant
  • Red bell pepper

Those foods should make it as easy as possible to get in as much niacin as you need, without having too many calories.

About the author

Dale C.

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance writer. Trying to do my small part in making the world better by writing about the wonderful world of veganism.

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