Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is a form of vitamin B3. Often vitamin B3 is referred to as niacin.

While niacinamide as well as nicotinic acid offer vitamin B3 activity, their chemical structure and the manner in which they affect our health are different. Niacinamide is a variety of vitamin B3 or niacin - which is among the eight essential B vitamins necessary for maintaining a healthy body and mind. Hence, niacinamide is said to be an essential nutrient.

It is worth noting that vitamin B3 has an important role in converting the ingested food into energy, which helps the cells of our body to undertake various important chemical reactions. Since niacinamide is soluble in water, our body does not accumulate this nutrient. This is one reason why one needs to consume niacinamide or nicotinic acid every day.

Usually vitamin B3 is found in the form of niacinamide in products that are obtained from animals, for instance poultry and meat. On the other hand, vitamin B3 is found in the form of nicotinic acid in foods obtained from plants, such as seeds, nuts and green vegetables.

In addition, several refined grain products such as cereals are also loaded with niacinamide.

Aside from obtaining this essential nutrient from plant and animal-based products, our body is also capable of making vitamin B3 from an amino acid called tryptophan, which is found in nearly all protein foods.

Nevertheless, converting tryptophan into vitamin B3 is not an efficient process to obtain this essential nutrient, since 60 mg of tryptophan produces only 1 mg of vitamin B3.

In the past, vitamin B3 was known as vitamin PP, which is an acronym for the term pellagra-preventive. This is primarily because any deficiency of tryptophan or vitamin B3 in the body resulted in the development of a health condition known as pellagra. Deficiency of this vitamin caused dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia and if these conditions were not treated timely they may often led to death. Hence, pellagra is said to be characterized by these four Ds.

Although pellagra rarely occurs to people in the developed regions of the world like North America, Europe and others, it is quite common in a number of developing nations. Although nicotinic acid and niacinamide both can be used to treat pellagra, generally physicians prefer to use niacinamide to nicotinic acid because the use of the former results in fewer side effects, for instance flushing of the skin.

Health benefits

Niacinamide not only has several therapeutic uses, but it also offers us several health benefits. This form of vitamin B3 is preferred to the use of another form of this vitamin called niacin for treating pellagra. Moreover, niacinamide is effective for treating specific skin conditions and it has a vital role in maintaining the health of your skin. Niacinamide is also a preferred additive in the skincare and cosmetic industry for the above mentioned reasons.

Niacinamide can be taken orally in the form of a supplement and also applied on the skin topically. In both cases, niacinamide has demonstrated anti-inflammatory activities and ability to soothe the skin.

This form of vitamin B3 has been utilized for treating various skin conditions such as acne and rosacea - a facial skin problem that is associated with redness of the fact. As a result, niacinamide is a popular substitute for oral or topical antibiotics used for curing acne and rosacea.

Apart from the above mentioned health benefits of niacinamide, this essential nutrient also has the potential to prevent melanoma. For the uninitiated, melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer that occurs in the skin cells that make melanin - the pigment that is responsible for your skin complexion.

When one is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted either by the sun or tanning beds, it harms the DNA of your skin cells that make melanin. And when this exposure is for a prolonged period, it may result in development of melanoma.

Since niacinamide is known to maintain the health of your skin cells, it has been found that taking oral supplements of this form of vitamin B3 improves the DNA repair in the skin cells that have been damaged due to exposure to UV radiation.

In fact, niacinamide supplement has shown the potential to act as a shield against melanoma, particularly in high-risk population - for instance in case of people who have suffered from non-melanoma skin cancers earlier.

Aside from being beneficial for the human skin, niacinamide is also helpful for treating chronic kidney disease. In effect, chronic kidney disease is a condition wherein the kidneys progressively lose their normal functioning and this has a negative effect on the ability of your body to clean as well as filter the impure blood and keep a control on your blood pressure.

If you are suffering from chronic kidney disease, you will experience a build-up of harmful chemicals like phosphate in your blood.

Findings of a number of studies hint that taking niacinamide supplement may be effective in reducing the levels of phosphate in people enduring kidney dysfunction, as this form of vitamin B3 blocks the phosphate build-up.

Normally, the levels of phosphate in the blood stream can be managed by taking healthy diet, medicines or dialysis, subject to the seriousness of the phosphate build-up.

In addition, use of niacinamide may also inhibit the development of type 1 diabetes. When you suffer from type 1 diabetes, your body assaults as well as destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Some people have hinted that niacinamide helps to protect as well as preserve the beta cells in the pancreas, thereby delaying or even preventing the commencement of type 1 diabetes in high risk individuals.

On the other hand, scientific studies do not endorse that niacinamide can help in preventing type 1 diabetes onset, but it may help in delaying the disease's progression by safeguarding the functioning of the beta cells.

This news is promising indeed, but further studies are necessary before doctors can recommend niacinamide supplements as an intervention in the case of type 1 diabetes.

Side effects and cautions

Generally, most people can tolerate niacinamide well provided it is given in the right doses. This is most important because the excess amounts of niacinamide is got rid from the body via urination. As mentioned earlier, our body does not store this essential nutrient as it is water-soluble.

The upper limit of vitamin B3 that can be well tolerated is 35 mg daily. When taken in this dosage, niacinamide is unlikely to cause any adverse side effects such as redness, flushing, tingling and itching of the skin. These side effects are said to be common when one uses nicotinic acid. However, using niacinamide does not result in these side effects.

Some people using nicotinamide have reported experiencing minor side effects like headache, nausea and stomach discomfort. Moreover, many experts have suggested that use of nicotinamide may result in increased insulin resistance, which is characteristic of type 2 diabetes. However, there has been little evidence to this claim and whenever there has been such evidence it has not been consistent.

Having said this, ideally you need to check with a physician or healthcare provider prior to supplementing with niacinamide. In fact, this is necessary before taking any supplement as this would help you to assess the risks posed to your health due to use of the supplements.


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