What is Niacinamide?
Niacinamide or Nicotinamide (NAM) is a water-soluble form of vitamin B3 or niacin. The crystalline powder and niacinamide serum are used in medication and dietary supplements for treating and preventing pellagra and various skin conditions such as acne, hyperpigmentation, dark circles, and dry or oily skin. In biological systems, nicotinamide is a part of the cofactor nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP).
The scientific name of niacinamide is nicotinamide (NAM) It is an amide of nicotinic acid. The structure of nicotinamide contains a pyridine ring to which a primary amide group is attached in the meta position of the pyridine ring.
Vitamin B3 was called vitamin PP in the early 20th century due to its ability to prevent pellagra. It is an essential nutrient that helps to build up proteins in our skin and protect us from environmental pollution.
Sources of Nicotinamide
Niacin and trace amounts of nicotinamide may be obtained from various food sources such as chicken breast, marinara sauce, salmon, brown rice, etc. Niacin is converted to another form of vitamin B3 (niacinamide) when our body takes greater amounts than what is needed by the body.
Consuming nicotinamide from various food sources and supplementation can help your body to convert the food you eat into energy. Eating a balanced diet is the best way to intake any micronutrients.
Nicotinamide supplements are easily dissolved in water and well-absorbed when taken by mouth. Absorbing it from food sources is better than supplementation. You should only intake supplements of vitamin B3 under medical supervision to treat deficiency.
Uses of Niacinamide
Niacinamide uses mainly for the prevention of vitamin B3 deficiency and related conditions such as pellagra. It is a US FDA-approved medication for preventing and treating the disease pellagra.
Taking niacinamide supplements by mouth or using cream may also be useful for treating acne, diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis, aging skin, skin discoloration, and many other health problems. There is no good scientific evidence to support vitamin B3 in most of these applications.
Niacinamide for Skin
Niacinamide helps to build up and repair new cells in our skin. It also protects our skin from environmental stresses such as sunlight, pollution, and toxic materials. The use of niacinamide supplements has beneficial for us because it does not cause skin flushing.
It is a well-tolerated and safe ingredient when used in cosmetics. Many topical niacinamide skincare products come in the form of serums. The serum should be applied to our skin after toning but before moisturizing. The niacinamide ingredient is also found in some cleansers, creams, and face masks.
Niacinamide for Acne
The anti-inflammatory action of niacinamide cream is beneficial for the treatment of acne. It works to reduce the swelling and redness associated with our acne. It also helps to regulate the amount of acne-causing oil being produced by the glands of our skin.
The application of two percent topical niacinamide cream for 2 to 4 weeks has been effective in lowering the sebum excretion rate.
For Dry Skin
Niacinamide can be used with common moisturizing ingredients, like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. The topical products can boost your skin hydration by preventing the evaporation of moisture from the skin into the environment.
It also helps for the production of natural lipids ceramides in your skin which can help to improve the skin barrier and prevent both water loss and the invasion of potential irritants.
Niacinamide for Hyperpigmentation
The serum containing antioxidant niacinamide and retinol (vitamin A) helps to prevent dark patches, sun damage, or age spots. Various clinical studies show that a specific concentration of niacinamide is able to block the enzyme responsible for producing pigmentation. It works in the skin by inhibiting melanosome transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes.
For Dark Circles
Collagen is the main structural protein in the body that strengthens our skin and bones. Collagen levels in your body decrease with increasing age. Therefore, our skin starts to lose its strength and firmness.
The niacinamide serum can be used to lighten your dark circles by increasing collagen production. It also increases the production of elastin and other skin proteins. A clinical study showed that niacinamide reduced the signs of aging, the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, red blotchiness, and skin sallowness.
Sunscreen with Niacinamide
Like vitamin C, niacinamide-containing sunscreen help to protect our skin from UV rays coming from the sun. The UV rays create free radicals that damage healthy skin cells and promote signs of aging like discoloration and wrinkles.
Excessive exposure to UV radiation can cause the appearance of wrinkles, lines, and age spots in your skin. The other signs of skin damage include DNA damage that can lead to skin cancer.
Niacinamide is a powerful vitamin and antioxidant that reduces hyperpigmentation and sun spots by brightening skin and minimizing the appearance of pores.
Niacinamide in Skin Cancers
A form of vitamin B3 or nicotinamide has been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancers. A 500 to 1000 mg supplementation per day decreases the risk of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Nicotinamide is the form of vitamin B3 that should be taken for the prevention of cancers but other forms of vitamin B, such as niacin can not be used due to skin flushing. This form of prevention is safe and widely available with costs around $10 per month.
Australia is the largest skin cancer capital of the world. In Australia, two-thirds of retirement-age people can expect to develop some form of skin cancer. A randomized clinical trial performed in Australia shows that niacinamide may significantly reduce the risk of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. It is also protective against ultraviolet damage caused by sun exposure.
Commercially, niacinamide is produced from nicotinic acid (niacin) or nicotinonitrile. It is an amide form of nicotinic acid (niacin). It is manufactured mainly by the following process:
- By the action of ammonia on nicotinyl chloride.
- Heating nicotinic acid (niacin) with urea in presence of a molybdenum catalyst.
- Commercially, it can be made by the action of hydrogen peroxide on 3-cyanopyridine in an alkaline solution.
Benefits of Niacinamide
Niacinamide is considered an Essential list of medications by the World Health Organization. This form of vitamin B3 is available as a generic medication and most pharmacies or supermarkets. Topically using niacinamide may have a positive impact on your skin health.
Unlike niacin, niacinamide has no beneficial effects on fat metabolism. Therefore, it should not be used for treating high cholesterol or high-fat levels in the blood.
Niacinamide uses in various cosmetics and skincare products because it is easily absorbed by our skin. Therefore, it can be used effectively to treat various skin conditions.
Unlike niacin, it does not cause flushing or skin irritation. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of niacinamide are suitable for the treatment of all skin types skin.
Clinical research shows that 5 percent niacinamide can be helpful in lightening dark spots but most benefits were seen after four weeks.
The stratum corneum is the uppermost layer of the epidermis or skin on your body. It protects your body from allergens, toxic chemicals/particles, and microorganisms, keeps your body hydrated, and produces new skin cells. A clinical study showed that topical application of nicotinamide increased ceramide and free fatty acid levels in the stratum corneum.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes may kill the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells in your body. Taking oral supplements of niacinamide by mouth might help slow the progression of type 1 diabetes but it does not use for the prevention of diabetes.
Chronic kidney disease is a health problem where your kidneys gradually lose the ability to cleanse and filter blood and regulate blood pressure. It can increase phosphate in your blood. Various clinical studies suggest that taking niacinamide by mouth can help to lower phosphate levels in people with renal dysfunction.
Taking niacinamide supplements by mouth may improve joint flexibility and reduce pain and swelling in people who suffer from osteoarthritis.
Niacinamide has minimal side effects and normal doses are safe for most adults when taken by mouth. In comparison to niacin, it does not cause flushing during supplementation.
It can cause minor side effects such as stomach upset, gas, dizziness, rash, itching, and other health problems. To minimize side effects, adults should avoid taking it greater than 35 mg per day. Normal doses are safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding periods.
When doses are greater than 35 mg per day, more serious side effects may occur. The serious side effects due to niacinamide supplementation may include liver problems or high blood sugar.