Northside Health Library



Pellagra is a disease that occurs when a person does not get enough niacin (one of the B complex vitamins) or tryptophan (an amino acid).

Alternative Names

Vitamin B3 deficiency; Deficiency - niacin


Pellagra is caused by having too little niacin or tryptophan in the diet. It can also occur if the body fails to absorb these nutrients. It may develop after gastrointestinal diseases or with alcoholism.

The disease is common in parts of the world where people have a lot of corn in their diet.


Symptoms of pellagra include:

  • Delusions
  • Diarrhea
  • Inflamed mucus membranes
  • Mental confusion
  • Scaly skin sores


So YT, Simon RP. Deficiency diseases of the nervous system. In: Bradley WG, Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, eds. Neurology in Clinical Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Butterworth-Heinemann;2008:chap 61.

Kumar N. Neurologic presentation of nutritional deficiencies. Neurol Clin. 2010;28:107-170.

Review Date: 10/28/2010
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Northside Hospital - Atlanta

1000 Johnson Ferry Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30342
(404) 851-8000

Northside Hospital - Cherokee

201 Hospital Road
Canton, GA 30114
(770) 720-5100

Northside Hospital - Forsyth

1200 Northside Forsyth Drive
Cumming, GA 30041
(770) 844-3200

Copyright © 2015 Northside Hospital|Privacy Policy