If you're a skincare fanatic or even just strolled down the skincare section at Mecca/Sephora, you’ve most likely heard of the magic of vitamin B3 or better known as Nicotinamide, Niacin or Niacinamide.
A trending sensation, Niacinamide has over 82,000 hashtags on Instagram and has overtaken the skincare community across the globe.
It's one of those ingredients that everyone is using at the moment and for good reason! It’s essential for good health and if you don’t get enough of it, it can lead to skin disease, digestive problems, fatigue and mood changes. But while you may already know how a niacinamide serum can diminish fine lines, treat large pores and hydrate skin, lesser known are the benefits from ingesting this essential nutrient.
What's the Big Deal with Nicacinamide?
Vitamin B3 or Niacin is the generic name for nicotinic acid (pyridine-3-carboxylic acid), nicotinamide (niacinamide or pyridine-3-carboxamide), and related derivatives, such as nicotinamide riboside.
All tissues in the body convert absorbed nicotinamide into its main metabolically active form, the coenzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). More than 400 enzymes require NAD to catalyze reactions in the body, which is more than for any other vitamin-derived coenzyme.
Key to Slowing Ageing & DNA Repair With NAD+
More niacinamide in your diet equals more NAD+. What is NAD+? Short for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, NAD+ is a coenzyme: a compound that your body uses to support basic reactions in your cells. We use NAD+ every day for basic functions like sleeping, breathing, eating, and drinking.
Here’s how to understand what NAD+ does, without having to relive high school bio. Think of it as a waiter that picks up an electron from one table and drops it off at another. The oxidised form of NAD+ grabs an electron from one molecule. While it has a hold on that electron, it becomes NADH. NADH donates that electron to another molecule, and it becomes NAD+ again.
The simple act of shuffling electrons around helps your enzymes work, and those enzymes activate microscopic chemical reactions in your cells that keep them healthy and keep your whole body humming.
Some researchers refer to NAD+ as “The Fountain of Youth” due to its ability to repair cells and infuse them with new life and vitality. Unlike some other hormones and enzymes that have a specific purpose, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide is present in every cell and charged with the ability to renew and regenerate our bodies at the deepest level. As we age, accumulation of DNA damage may drive processes of ageing and the development of age-related diseases.
Unfortunately, your body creates less of NAD+ as you get older, and uses what you do have less efficiently. In conjunction with diminished collagen and elastin that keep your skin supple and wrinkle-free, decreased levels of NAD+ leave you looking, feeling, and performing at increasingly diminished rate.
Skin is particularly vulnerable to the effects of ageing. A study that examined human skin samples from 49 people between the ages of 15 and 77 years found that with age, NAD+ levels decreased. Excessive DNA damage has also been shown to decrease NAD+ to 20 to 30 percent of its normal levels. As we age and accumulate more DNA damage, our cells increase their demand for DNA repair. The chronic reduction of NAD+ levels may eventually lead to the depletion of NAD+. Left unchecked, skin appears older, dull, and less radiant.
Niacin: Topical or Ingested?
- Visibly minimise enlarged pores
- Tighten lax pores
- Improve uneven skin tone
- Soften fine lines and wrinkles
- Diminish dullness
- Strengthen a weakened skin barrier
- Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory
- Slow Ageing: Increased NAD+ levels = anti-ageing (slowing down wrinkles, sagging and discolouration from ageing).
- DNA Repair: Sufficient NAD+ enhances the repair of direct and oxidative DNA damage from normal day-to-day exposures and processes.
- Reduce the risk of cancer: A study published in the New England Journal Of Medicine showed that niacinamide was effective at reducing the risk of developing skin cancers.2 Participants at high risk of developing skin cancer who took niacinamide over one year reduced their risk of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma by 23%. The study also showed that niacinamide reduced the risk of getting actinic keratosis, also known as pre-skin cancer.
- Promotes Restful Sleep: Scientists have identified the role of NAD+ in sleep cycles and hunger patterns. Circadian rhythm, your sleep-wake cycle, that depends largely on light and dark, determines when you feel awake, when you feel tired, when you feel hungry — in general terms, it determines the flow of your day.
- Diabetes: Some studies have suggested that niacinamide is effective in preventing and treating insulin-dependent diabetes (type 1 diabetes) in the prediabetic and early stages of the disease.
- Osteoarthritis: According to several studies, taking niacinamide supplements may be effective at treating osteoarthritis by improving joint flexibility and reducing inflammation. It may be necessary to limit the use of anti-inflammatory drugs while taking the supplements.
- Hyperpigmentation and melasma: Niacinamide has been found to decrease pigmentation and is considered a possible option to deal with hyperpigmentation and melasma. There have also been early-stage clinical trails showing that niacinamide may be effective for treating photoaging.
Food Sources of Vitamin B3
Our bodies cannot internally produce niacin so instead we must source it from oral supplements. The recommended daily amount of niacin for adult males is 16 milligrams (mg) a day and for adult women who aren't pregnant, 14 mg a day. Niacin is present in a wide variety of foods. Many animal-based foods—including poultry, beef, and fish—provide about 5-10 mg niacin per serving, primarily in the highly bioavailable forms of NAD and NADP. Plant-based foods, such as nuts, legumes, and grains, provide about 2-5 mg niacin per serving, mainly as nicotinic acid. In some grain products, however, naturally present niacin is largely bound to polysaccharides and glycopeptides that make it only about 30% bioavailable. You can find out more about the food sources and levels of Niacin (vitamin B3) here.
Thinking of supplementing this powerhouse nutrient?
Check out VK6 S-Block - loaded with 13 essential vitamins and minerals, including: Nicotinamide (B3), Riboflavin (B2), Thiamine (B1), Pyridoxine Hydrochlorid (B6), Mangganese, Chromium, Magnesium, Folic Acid, Biotin, Alpha Lipoic Acid and other essential nutrients that work in synergy to prevent premature ageing and reduce the process of advanced glycation end products, or AGEs - proteins or lipids that become gylcated as a result of exposure to sugars from dietary intake.
Chen AC, Martin AJ, Choy B, et al. A phase 3 randomized trial of nicotinamide for skin-cancer chemoprevention. N Engl J Med. 2015;373(17):1618-26. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1506197
Edalat-nejad M, Zameni F, Talaiei A. The effect of niacin on serum phosphorus levels in dialysis patients. Indian J Nephrol. 2012;22(3):174-8.
Hakozaki T, Minwalla L, Zhuang J, et al. The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer. Br J Dermatol. 2002;147(1):20-31. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2133.2002.04834.x
Jonas WB, Rapoza CP, Blair WF. The effect of niacinamide on osteoarthritis: a pilot study. Inflamm Res. 1996;45(7):330-4. doi:10.1007/BF02252945