What Is Niacinamide and What Does It Do?

Niacinamide is a water-soluble, non-toxic B vitamin. It’s sometimes called Vitamin B3, nicotinic acid amide, or nicotinamide.

Niacinamide is an important ingredient that you can find in many foods, skincare products, and supplements. It has many different health benefits, including skincare, and treating or preventing medical conditions.

This article discusses what you need to know about this vitamin, including its benefits, side effects, and how to get enough of it every day.

What Is Niacinamide?

Niacinamide is a natural form of vitamin B3 that is present in many foods, such as milk, eggs, and fish. You can also use it as a dietary supplement and you can find it in several over-the-counter skincare products.

According to the National Institutes of Health, niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning your body doesn’t store it. So if you’re not getting enough from your diet, applying it topically or getting it through oral supplements is the way to go.

What Does Niacinamide Do?

The human body depends on vitamins and minerals for its everyday functioning. Among all the vitamins and minerals, vitamin B3, also known as niacinamide, is one of them.

Niacinamide helps in the production of energy and the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the body. It is also helpful in maintaining a healthy nervous system and keeps the skin healthy by protecting it from free radicals.

According to Dr. David E. Bank, a dermatologist, this vitamin can also help reduce the appearance of dark spots, blemishes, and wrinkles on the skin. These are common signs of aging that make skin appear dull, tired, and unhealthy.

Besides its role in reducing dark spots and other aging signs, this vitamin also helps increase ceramides production in the skin. Ceramides are important because they help strengthen your skin’s protective barrier, which results in softer, smoother skin.

Many people can benefit from using this form of vitamin B3, but it’s especially beneficial for those with sensitive or easily irritated skin. According to experts, nicotinamide is less irritating than other forms of vitamin B3, such as niacin.

SEE: How Does Vitamin B3 Work? The Truth About This Effective Skin Care Ingredient

Is Niacinamide Different From Niacin?

Niacinamide and niacin are different parts of the B complex group, which includes thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, and others.

Both are water-soluble, which means that they dissolve in water. Niacinamide is also fat-soluble, which means that it dissolves in fat as well.

The two are very similar in structure but differ slightly in function. Niacin is often used to reduce cholesterol levels because it helps remove LDL (bad) cholesterol from the body.

Niacinamide, on the other hand, is often used as an ingredient in skincare products because it is more stable and has fewer side effects compared to niacin.

Because of these differences, health professionals often recommend the two forms for different conditions — for example, they may recommend niacin for treating high cholesterol and niacinamide for skin issues.

Can You Treat Acne With Niacinamide?

Acne is often the result of a clogged pore. When sebum becomes trapped inside a pore, it can build up pressure, causing it to swell and become inflamed.

Niacinamide helps to treat acne in two ways: it prevents the formation of new acne lesions and diminishes existing lesions. It does this by inhibiting inflammation, reducing sebum production, and increasing the turnover of skin cells.

It’s also important to keep in mind that this vitamin helps to regulate the hormones responsible for oil production. So you’ll likely find that your skin produces less oil once you start using a product containing this ingredient.

“Using niacinamide with other acne treatments like benzoyl peroxide will also increase its effectiveness and lessen the frequency at which you need to use niacinamide,” Bank says.

In any case, if you are taking this ingredient for acne, remember that it may take a while before you see results. Also, ensure to consult your doctor if you do not think it is working right or if you experience any unwanted effects.

Can You Treat Aging Skin With Niacinamide?

Research shows that niacinamide can help improve the appearance of aging skin by helping skin cells create more collagen, the protein that keeps skin firm and elastic.

Collagen production declines with age and this can result in wrinkles and uneven skin tone. By increasing collagen production, niacinamide makes your skin thicker, which in turn, reduces the appearance of aging signs.

According to a study, nicotinamide increases ceramides, essential fatty acids, and free fatty acids in the body. This keeps your skin hydrated, which would improve skin tone and keep the skin looking young.

SEE: Is Niacinamide Good for Dry Skin? A Review of Benefits and Side Effects

Niacinamide Supplement

To get enough niacinamide through diet, you’d have to eat large amounts of foods like meat, fish, nuts, eggs, and green vegetables because they contain preformed vitamin B3.

In Dr. Bank’s words, this is why most people prefer supplements. When taken orally as a supplement, this vitamin may help support energy metabolism and reduce the risk of various skin problems.

According to him, the best way to take these supplements is to start with a low dose of 100-300 mg/day and work up to 500 mg if needed. The dosage will vary depending on the brand you’re using and how your body reacts to it.

Tips for buying niacinamide supplements:

  • Make sure that you buy your niacinamide supplement from a reliable source and that it contains high-quality ingredients.
  • The most common side effect of oral supplementation is flushing of the skin. So make sure that your product doesn’t contain any stimulants such as caffeine or other ingredients that might cause flushing or other side effects.
  • Ensure that the product is manufactured according to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) guidelines and has been tested for purity and quality before being sold.

What Kind of Niacinamide Product Is Best for Skin?

While many skincare products claim to contain niacinamide, some products only contain this ingredient in small amounts. To get the most benefit from niacinamide, you should look for a skincare product with a high concentration of this vitamin.

According to Dr. David Khalil, a board dermatologist, a good place to start is with a serum that contains at least 5 percent niacinamide (or one part niacinamide for every ten parts product) and is formulated for your specific skin type.

Serums are lightweight and concentrated, so they’re able to provide your skin with more benefits than a lotion or cream. Some serums also contain other skincare ingredients like retinol and hyaluronic acid that help improve skin texture and brighten skin tone.

Things to Note Before Choosing a Niacinamide Serum

High concentration

When looking for a serum, you want to make sure that it contains at least 5% niacinamide for it to have any effect on your skin.

The best niacinamide serums have concentrations at or above 10%. They also tend to be more expensive, but you’ll be getting more quality for your money.

Authenticity

When shopping, make sure that what you’re buying is authentic niacinamide serum with no fillers or fragrances added.

Ideally, the key ingredient listed should be niacinamide, nicotinamide, or nicotinic acid, so if it says anything else, it’s not an authentic niacinamide serum.

Complimentary ingredients

Niacinamide serums can have additional ingredients like hyaluronic acid and vitamin C to help improve their overall effect on your skin.

These ingredients work well with nicotinamide to help fight signs of aging, hydrate the skin, and keep moisture locked in. Some people prefer this version because it works well with other skincare products and absorbs quickly into the skin.

SEE: Can You Use Niacinamide With Retinol? Why They Are the Ideal Pair

Side Effects Of Using Niacinamide

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, common side effects of this vitamin include itchiness, nausea and headaches, and stinging sensation under the skin (if you have sensitive skin).

Using this vitamin can also cause flushing symptoms due to its role in increasing blood flow. Flushing is most pronounced in the face, neck, chest, and abdomen, but you can also see it in other parts of your body such as the arms and legs.

The chances of experiencing these side effects are rare, but it’s still important to be aware. If you experience any of these side effects, stop using niacinamide and contact your doctor immediately.

Are There Any Risks?

Niacinamide is safe for all skin types, but it has a few warnings that are important to keep in mind:

  • Consult your doctor before using this treatment if you’re taking certain medications such as those prescribed for diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol.
  • If you’re pregnant or nursing, don’t use any product with this ingredient unless cleared by your doctor.
  • People with liver disease should not take niacinamide because it can further damage their livers. Those who have gout also should not take it because it might increase their symptoms.
  • Using oral niacinamide may cause health complications if you have kidney disease, stroke, or HIV infection. So ensure to consult your doctor before starting treatment.

What Will Happen if You Don’t Get Enough Niacinamide?

Niacinamide deficiency is a serious condition that occurs if a person is not getting enough niacinamide. It is a rare condition that can result in the reduction of several important enzymes in the body.

There are three stages of niacinamide deficiency:

  • Mild deficiency: This can result in skin discoloration and a reduced capacity to repair damaged cells. You can treat a mild deficiency with a multivitamin and/or a b complex vitamin supplement.
  • Moderate deficiency: A moderate deficiency of niacinamide is usually accompanied by other B-complex deficiencies. If left untreated, neurological symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, psychosis, and memory loss may occur.
  • Severe deficiency: A severe deficiency can lead to pellagra, a rare disease characterized by diarrhea, dementia, and dermatitis. Treatment includes hospitalization, where you’ll be given high doses of nicotinamide (usually 1000-2000 mg/day).

FAQs

How long does it take for niacinamide to work?

2 – 3 months. You’ll not see niacinamide benefits on your skin immediately, but after about 2-3 months, you’ll start to notice some changes.

Any change in your complexion within the first few weeks of using this treatment is going to be so subtle that you might not notice anything. But with a little patience and consistent usage, your skin will begin to clear up.

Can you use niacinamide with retinol?

Yes, you can. Niacinamide and retinol are both anti-aging skincare ingredients and both are considered safe to use together.

However, if you are using both of these ingredients in your skincare regimen, experts recommend you alternate the application of each ingredient daily. This will help to prevent side effects and will allow each ingredient to penetrate more effectively into the skin.

Is niacinamide good for the skin?

Yes, it is. Niacinamide has several benefits for the skin, including increased hydration and skin elasticity, soothing redness and irritation, and brightening skin tone.

This vitamin is highly effective at improving the texture and tone of the skin. It helps make your skin brighter and helps fill in fine lines and wrinkles, giving you a more youthful-looking complexion.

Conclusion

Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is a water-soluble form of vitamin B3 that helps maintain a healthy body and skin. It may even play a role in reversing visible signs of aging, like wrinkles and sagging.

You can find this vitamin in many different foods, generally in small amounts; these include eggs, milk, and fish. You can also find this form of vitamin B3 in many oral supplements and skincare products like serums and moisturizers.

This important vitamin is a vital part of any skincare routine, especially for those that have oily skin, acne, or premature aging. Niacinamide will target these issues and improve the overall quality of your skin.

Thanks for reading

Visit Serum101 to learn more about niacinamide and how you can use it.