Niacinamide vitamins: the positive and the negative outcomes

How using Niacinamide products can help your skin and potentially other ailments.

Woman receiving a facial treatment.

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3, one of the eight different forms of vitamin B. It is formed within your body when there is a presence of too much Niacin, which is another B3 vitamin. As of recent, Niacinamide serums have gained notoriety specifically on TikTok, but have been used for their effects on skin health, skin cancers, and other medicinal uses for a long time. In this article, we will cover the benefits of using Niacinamide serums, oral supplementation, and the possible side effects of using this B3 vitamin. 

Where does Niacinamide come from?

As stated before, Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3--it plays a crucial role in energy metabolism and is vital in converting food into energy during digestion. This vitamin is water-soluble, so your body does not naturally store it. Vitamin B3 is also derived from Tryptophan, an amino acid needed for biosynthesis, which comes from protein-rich foods. Biosynthesis is the process of substrates being turned into complex products- in our case this would be the process of digestion. This vitamin is found in red meats, poultry, nuts, and green vegetables. It also supports the proper functioning of the nervous and digestive systems, and skin health.

Bottle of Niacinamide supplements. 
This is just one of the many supplements of Niacinamide on the market, if you are more interested in using the product orally this may be a choice for you! Image Courtesy of Endurance Products.

Niacin vs. Niacinamide

Both compounds are B-3 vitamins but occur because of different amounts of Tryptophan within your body. For example, if you take Niacin supplements and there is an excess of Tryptophan within the body, it will convert this to Niacinamide to balance it out. 

The main structural difference between these compounds is that Niacin contains an organic acid group, and Niacinamide contains an amino acid group. 

What are the Benefits of Niacinamide?

Niacinamide provides a plethora of benefits for the skin. We are going to break each of these down individually- 

  • Enhances the Lipid Barrier in the skin.
  • Reduces Hyperpigmentation.
  • Regulates Sebum Production.
  • May reduce the chances of getting Melanoma. 
  • Reduces wrinkles within the skin.

Niacinamide boosts moisture within the skin by enhancing the lipid bilayer. This improves the skin's barrier function, reduces moisture loss, and increases hydration, resulting in smoother, softer skin. Hyperpigmentation is the excess of melanin within the skin which can cause problems such as discoloration and is caused by hormonal changes, extreme sun exposure, and skin damage. Niacinamide helps reduce hyperpigmentation by limiting cell turnover and reducing melanin production in the skin. 

Sebum is an oily substance produced by the Sebaceous gland in the skin. Niacinamide can also help regulate sebum production and reduce the risk of pores becoming blocked with oil, debris, and bacteria. Topical 2% niacinamide may lower the sebum excretion rate (SER) and casual sebum level (CSL)  on facial skin. This lowering of the oils in the body will help reduce the presence of acne and debris on the skin. 

Niacinamide may also reduce the chances of getting Melanoma-

If you do not already know, Melanoma is skin cancer caused by various things:

  • Too much exposure to UV Light causes gene mutations
  • Inherited gene mutations generationally
  • DNA mutations

The anti-inflammatory properties and photoprotective (light protective) effects may limit the UV damage caused to the skin by using Niacinamide. So the gene mutations caused by UV Light Exposure would be limited. Too much UV exposure can come from using tanning beds or just going out into the sun too much. It also may inhibit non-melanoma skin cancers and interfere with Melanoma itself too. Though this may be a great supplement to inhibit UV damage and possibly treat skin cancers, there is still much-needed research and clinical trials with placebos to determine whether or not these effects are 100% guaranteed. But the literature, as of now, is leaning towards supporting these claims. 

Serums of Niacinamide may also reduce the number of wrinkles on the skin. Due to the antioxidant properties that Niacinamide provides, it can help repair damaged skin over time. Through topical use in a facial cleansing routine, the skin may become softer to the touch and heal faster. Some research suggests that this B3 vitamin being used topically can reduce the skin's yellowing, wrinkles, and blotchiness. 

Woman holding a tray with lotion bottles, salts, a brush and candles, in a robe.
On top of using products with Niacinamide infused in it, combining it with other skin care products can maximize the benefits.

Niacinamide may also aid in skin conditions-

Niacinamide has shown promise in helping to manage certain skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. It may also aid in reducing skin inflammation and improving the overall health of the skin. There is yet to be valuable research conducted. With topical use of CeraVe uses (with Niacinamide infused in it), patients of a dermatologist stated that the inflammation had eased up. Of course, speak to your dermatologist if specific cleansers suit you. It's important to note that other ingredients in certain topicals may trigger some of these skin conditions or make them worse, so always test them before diving straight in and scrubbing your entire face. 

Niacinamide's ability to relieve chronic kidney disease- 

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is an illness in which, over time, the function of the organs begins to deteriorate. The leading cause of this ailment is diabetes--symptoms may not show up at first, but later, as the disease goes through its separate stages, they begin to arise. High levels of sugar within the bloodstream are what ultimately cause the disease. Some symptoms of the disease are: 

  • Nausea
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Fatigue
  • High protein content in urine
  • Blood within urine
  • Feet/Ankle swelling

Niacinamide may be a viable treatment option given that it helps the kidneys remove harmful chemicals within the body that would otherwise remain due to the disease. Niacinamide can be helpful because it helps remove phosphate (toxic) from the body 10% from baseline, then if the body did not have the supplement. For effective treatment of CDK, there needs to be both pharmacy and non-pharm treatments to have the most effective outcomes. 

Niacinamide Effects on Diabetes 

Niacinamide may have a positive effect on individuals with type I diabetes but a negative effect on those with type II diabetes. For people with Type I, Niacinamide could have the ability to protect and preserve cells in the pancreas responsible for insulin production. This is important because type I diabetes is the body trying to kill off insulin-producing cells, so that this supplement may reduce the condition's progression. It is important to note that research still needs to be done on this. 

For people with type II diabetes, you may want to sit this one out. Niacinamide might also increase blood sugar levels and oxidative stress, making the complications that already come with type II diabetes worse. Whether you are type I or II, always communicate with your physician to ensure that the supplement will not cause any complications with your treatment. 

Possible side effects of Using Niacinamide-

Side effects of Niacinamide are usually tame but uncommon. If you are using a topical solution for your skin, you may experience: 

  • Redness
  • Stinging
  • Rash
  • Drying

And if you are taking the supplement orally, you may experience:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 

An allergic reaction to this is rare but not impossible. Some symptoms of that would include:

  • Rash
  • Trouble Breathing
  • Extreme Nausea

Bottle of Niacinamide serum with pineapple slices and rose petals. 
This is just one example of what specific serums would look like when searching for them online or in stores--there are a multitude of brands you can choose from too!

Different Ways of Using Niacinamide-

There are two ways of using Niacinamide: taking it orally or using it topically for skin care. Using it topically will have different effects than taking it orally and significantly impact the skin. With supplements, you will receive the extra boost in digestion that you would otherwise not receive with just topical ointments. It is a B3 Vitamin, so it is involved in energy production and digestion, but you would not receive these benefits with just skin cleaners.

All in All- 

Niacinamide can be a helpful supplement capable of aiding your skin in moisturizing, retaining a strengthened lipid barrier in the skin, and potentially preventing skin cancers--whether you are using it topically or taking oral supplements. The symptoms of certain skin conditions, such as eczema, may ease up as well using products infused with Niacinamide. 

Other conditions like Type I Diabetes and Chronic Kidney Disease may be helped because of Niacinamide. But whatever you decide to take, ensure that you speak with your physician or dermatologist to ensure that you are not allergic to the ingredients, inflict negative effects upon yourself, or mix them with medications that would produce poor outcomes.

Christian Mitchell

Christian Mitchell is a Biology major at Slippery Rock University. He has strong aspirations for writing and is seeking to become a freelancer.
See All Posts >>

You Might Also Like...