What Is Niacinamide?
Niacinamide also called nicotinamide, is a form of vitamin B-3, an essential nutrient. A B-3 deficiency can lead to disorders of the skin, kidneys, and brain. Taking niacinamide can help prevent B-3 deficiency.
And there’s much more to this nutrient, especially when it comes to general skin health. Although more research is needed, topical niacinamide may help treat certain skin conditions, including acne and eczema.
Other Names of Nicotinamide
- 3-Pyridine Carboxamide
- Amide de l’Acide Nicotinique
- B Complex Vitamin
- Complexe de Vitamines B
- Nicotinic Acid Amide
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamina B3
- Vitamine B3
There are two forms of vitamin B3. One form is niacin, the other is niacinamide. Niacinamide is found in many foods including yeast, meat, fish, milk, eggs, green vegetables, beans, and cereal grains. Niacinamide is also found in many vitamin B complex supplements with other B vitamins. Niacinamide can also be formed in the body from dietary niacin.
Do not confuse niacinamide with niacin, inositol nicotinate, or tryptophan. Despite the similarities in names, niacinamide isn’t the same thing as niacin. They’re two different types of vitamin B-3. However, your body can make niacinamide from niacin supplements you’ve taken. This happens when there’s an excessive amount of niacin in the body. Tryptophan in the body can also be converted into niacinamide.
You should always talk to a doctor before taking vitamin B-3 or other supplements.
Overall, niacinamide can help build proteins in the skin and lock in moisture to prevent environmental damage.
- Immunity – Niacinamide helps build keratin, a type of protein that keeps your skin firm and healthy.
- Lipid barrier. Niacinamide can help your skin grow a ceramide (lipid) barrier, which can, in turn, helps retain moisture. This is beneficial for all skin types, especially if you have eczema or mature skin.
- Minimizes redness and blotchiness. Niacinamide reduces inflammation, which may help ease redness from eczema, acne, and other inflammatory skin conditions.
- Minimizes pore appearance. Keeping skin smooth and moisturized may have a secondary benefit to a natural reduction in pore size over time.
- Regulates oil. The benefits of moisture retention aren’t just for those with dry skin types. Niacinimide can also help regulate the amount of oil the sebaceous glands produce and prevent your glands from going into overdrive.
- Protects against sun damage. Niacinamide can concurrently rebuild healthy skin cells while also protecting them from damage caused by ultraviolet rays.
- Treats hyperpigmentation. Some research has found 5 percent of niacinamide concentrations can be helpful in lightening dark spots. Benefits were seen after four weeks, but not beyond two months. This benefit may be due to increased collagen production.
- Minimizes fine lines and wrinkles. Research has also found that the same concentration was helpful in reducing some signs of sun damage that come with aging. This includes fine lines and wrinkles.
- Protects against oxidative stress. Niacinamide helps build cells in the skin while also protecting them from environmental stresses, such as sunlight, pollution, and toxins.
- Treats acne. Niacinamide may be helpful for severe acne, especially inflammatory forms like papules and pustules. Over time, you may see fewer lesions and improved skin texture.
Taking Vitamin B3 Supplements
Eating a balanced diet is the best way to get micronutrients like vitamin B-3. You should only take supplements under medical supervision to treat deficiency. When it comes to general skin health, you may obtain some of the benefits of niacinamide from the foods that you eat. Vitamin B-3 is found in;
- green veggies
However, there’s no way to guarantee that the nutrients in your diet are impacting your overall skin health. The only way to ensure that niacinamide is targeting your skincare concerns is to use it topically.
Safety Concerns of Nicotinamide Usage
Niacinamide is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth. Unlike niacin, niacinamide does not cause flushing. However, niacinamide might cause minor adverse effects such as stomach upset, intestinal gas, dizziness, rash, itching, and other problems. When applied on the skin, niacinamide cream might cause mild burning, itching, or redness.
When doses of over 3 grams per day of niacinamide are taken, more serious side effects can happen. These include liver problems or high blood sugar. Niacinamide is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth and appropriately in children or when applied to the skin of adults.
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Niacinamide is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant and breastfeeding women when taken in the recommended amounts. The recommended amount of niacin for pregnant or breast-feeding women is 30 mg per day for women under 18 years of age, and 35 mg for women over 18.
- Allergies: Niacinamide can make allergies more severe because they cause histamine, the chemical responsible for allergic symptoms, to be released.
- Diabetes: Niacinamide might increase blood sugar. People with diabetes who take niacinamide should check their blood sugar carefully.
- Gallbladder disease: Niacinamide might make gallbladder disease worse.
- Gout: Large amounts of niacinamide might bring on gout.
- Liver disease: Niacinamide might increase liver damage. Don’t use it if you have liver disease.
- Stomach or intestinal ulcers: Niacinamide might make ulcers worse. Don’t use it if you have ulcers.
- Surgery: Niacinamide might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop taking niacinamide at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Skin Care Product With Nicotinamide
Many topical niacinamide products come in the form of serums. Think of serums as extra treatments that address individual skin concerns outside of regular cleansing, toning, and moisturizing. Your niacinamide serum should be applied after toning but before moisturizing. Some cleansers and creams also contain niacinamide. This ingredient is also found in some face masks, which are rinsed off after each use.
Read each product label carefully and follow all instructions for use. Niacinamide may be listed as “niacin” and “nicotinamide” on product labels.
Niacinamide concentration can vary across products, though most formulations are 5 percent or less. Some reports suggest 5 percent formulas are effective in treating hyperpigmentation and damage related to sun exposure. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to start with a lower concentration. Formulas with 2 percent niacinamide may help ease symptoms of eczema and similar conditions.
Is There Any Risk of Side Effects?
Topical niacinamide is generally considered safe to use. People who have preexisting allergies may be more likely to experience an allergic reaction. This is because niacinamide can cause your body to release histamine. You can avoid widespread allergic reactions and product sensitivities by doing a patch test:
- Apply a dime-sized amount of product on your forearm.
- Wait 24 hours.
- If you begin to experience redness, itching, or swelling, wash the area and discontinue use.
- If you don’t experience any side effects, it should be safe to apply elsewhere.
As with any new skincare product, you probably won’t see any significant results for several weeks. Although most of the available research describes noticeable improvements after four weeks of use, there’s no exact timeline. You may see even more changes to your skin after eight weeks. This includes smoother, toned, and hydrated skin.
If you don’t see any changes within a couple of months, it may be time to consult with a dermatologist. They can assess your skincare routine and advise you on which products to use dietary changes that may improve your skin health, and more.
When used topically every day, niacinamide may have a positive impact on your overall skin health. The ingredient can help reduce inflammation and hyperpigmentation, smooth your overall skin texture, and brighten your skin. It can take several weeks to see noticeable improvement, so it’s important to be patient and to stick with your routine. You should not take niacinamide supplements unless your doctor or other healthcare provider prescribes them to treat a B-3 deficiency or other underlying condition. The article originally published in Healthline and RxList
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