Benefits Of Niacin For Skin Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is a water-soluble vitamin that has a number of benefits for your skin and health. When taken in the right amounts, this B-complex supplement may help to improve your skin’s texture and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Understanding the benefits of niacin for skin can help you decide if this supplement is something you would like to add to your daily routine.
Benefits Of Niacin For Skin
Niacin goes by many names—niacinamide, nicotinic acid and myristyl nicotinate, just to name a few—but these are all just fancy terms for different forms of vitamin B3, an essential nutrient which just so happens to do wonders for your skin.
1. Niacin helps smooth wrinkles.
Niacin benefits your skin by stimulating production of collagen and elastin, which helps to smooth those pesky fine lines and wrinkles. One of our favorite niacin anti-agers is SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3, which combines 5% niacinamide with a tri-peptide concentrate and advanced moisturizers to smooth wrinkles and increase skin elasticity for a more toned facial contour.
2. It’s also great for acne-prone skin.
If you’re constantly dealing with acne blemishes, adding a niacin product to your routine is one of the best ways to get clear skin. Niacinamide heals acne by targeting the first step in the acne cycle, reducing the inflammation that would otherwise lead to sebum oxidation, clogged pores, bacteria growth and eventually an angry pimple. We recommend EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 Sunscreen – Untinted because it soothes, heals and protects acne-prone skin with niacinamide in a fragrance, paraben and oil-free formula.
3. Niacin promotes an even skin tone.
If you’ve spent a lot of time in the sun, you know that it can lead to dark spots and other forms of hyperpigmentation. Niacin helps brighten these dark spots over time because it stops melanin from rising through the cells of the dermis to the epidermis. Epionce Intense Defense Serum is one of our picks because it combines a complete vitamin complex (A, B, C, D, and E) with potent botanicals to strengthen skin and minimize signs of aging. Your complexion is left soft, smooth and even-toned.
4. Niacin keeps your skin moisturized.
By now you know that vitamin B3 helps to strengthen your skin barrier, and that leads to our next niacin benefit: with consistent use, this ingredient helps your skin stay hydrated. Skin with a healthy barrier keeps moisture from being lost through evaporation, and this means less dry, flaky and irritated skin. For the delicate eye area, we love Replenix Enriched Eye Repair Cream. This silky hydrating cream features niacinamide, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, retinol, peptides, caffeine (we could go on and on)—all these ingredients work synergistically to smooth lines, strengthen skin, reduce dark circles and depuff for younger-looking eyes.
5. It soothes rosacea symptoms.
Rosacea is cyclical and incurable, but using niacin in your skin care routine can help reduce the redness, bumps and irritation that are common with this condition. NIA24 Intensive Recovery Complex works with 5% Pro-Niacin, peptides, hyaluronic acid and antioxidants to soothe and strengthen skin while alleviating rosacea symptoms. This advanced hydrating cream is also a great all-around anti-aging product, and is ideal for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
What Does Niacinamide Do for Skin?
Niacinamide is particularly important to our body, as we cannot produce the vitamin on our own. The vitamin itself is water-soluble, which means that we must either eat it or apply it topically to reap its benefits. Niacinamide also goes by the names “vitamin B3” and “nicotinamide,” a nonacid form of B3. The benefits of vitamin B3 are as follows
- Research has shown that niacinamide can help fade hyperpigmentation on the skin. While the specific way in which this occurs is yet to be fully understood, adding niacinamide into your skincare routine can literally help lighten the skin over weeks.
- Because it promotes the production of ceramides and elastin, both vital components of the skin barrier, niacinamide helps strengthen the complexion’s natural protective shield. This results in more hydrated, healthy skin that can better defend itself against moisture loss and outside irritants.
- Niacinamide may help regulate and stabilize oil production in the skin. This goes back to restoring the strength of the skin barrier and, more specifically, the sebaceous glands in the skin that produce oil. In helping to even out the amount of oil the skin produces, niacinamide can help tame and even prevent acne.
- When applied topically, niacinamide converts into nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which has potent free-radical fighting antioxidant properties. This is crucial to skin health, as DNA damage can occur invisibly in response to a number of everyday stressors, including environmental pollution and ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure. In increasing the amount of NAD, niacinamide works to reduce oxidative cellular damage within skin cells.
- Topical use of niacinamide has also been shown to decrease skin redness and blotchiness.
- Using niacinamide has been shown to improve and prevent sallowness in the complexion without causing irritation, making it an ideal topical for restoring skin tone.
- A 2015 scientific study shows that individuals with high risk for nonmelanoma skin cancers were able to prevent the disease with oral intake of niacinamide. However, studies are still going on to confirm the results.
- Niacinamide or vitamin B3 is safe for all skin types and all ages and even those who suffer from inflammatory conditions such as rosacea because of its calming properties.
5 Science-Based Benefits of Niacin (Vitamin B3)
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is an important nutrient. In fact, every part of your body needs it to function properly.
As a supplement, niacin may help lower cholesterol, ease arthritis, and boost brain function, among other benefits.
However, it can also cause serious side effects if you take large doses.
This article reviews:
- what niacin is
- how it works
- its benefits
- how to know if you should supplement with it
What is niacin?
Niacin is one of the eight B vitamins, and it’s also called vitamin B3 .
There are two main chemical forms of niacin:
- nicotinic acid
- niacinamide (sometimes called nicotinamide)
The key role of niacin in your body is to synthesize the coenzymes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP), which are involved in over 400 biochemical reactions in your body — mainly related to obtaining energy from the food you eat
Niacin is water-soluble, so your body does not store it. This also means that your body can excrete excess amounts of the vitamin through urine if they are not needed.
Your body gets niacin through food, but it also makes small amounts from the amino acid tryptophan, which can be found in protein sources like turkey and other animal foods.
Niacin is one of eight water-soluble B vitamins. Its key role is in the formation of NAD and NADP, which help your body process components from food into usable energy.
How does it work?
As with all B vitamins, niacin helps convert food into energy by aiding enzymes.
Specifically, niacin is a major component of NAD and NADP, two coenzymes involved in cellular metabolism.
Furthermore, it plays a role in cell signaling and making and repairing DNA, in addition to acting as an antioxidant.
These are some of the symptoms of niacin deficiency :
- skin rash or discoloration
- bright red tongue
- constipation or diarrhea
- memory loss
- loss of appetite
That said, deficiency is very rare in most Western countries. People who are malnourished — which may stem from HIV/AIDS, anorexia nervosa, liver failure, alcohol abuse, or other medical problems, or poverty — are most at risk.
Severe niacin deficiency, or pellagra, mostly occurs in developing countries, where diets are not as varied. It can be treated with niacinamide supplementation.
Niacin is a vitamin that acts as an antioxidant and plays a role in cell signaling and DNA repair. Deficiency is characterized by skin problems, memory loss, and digestive problems.
How much do you need?
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for niacin depends on your age and gender. For ages 7 months and older, it is expressed as mg niacin equivalents (NE). One NE is equal to 1 mg of niacin or 60 mg of tryptophan .
- 0–6 months: 2 mg/day*
- 7–12 months: 4 mg NE/day*
*These figures represent the Adequate Intake (AI), similar to RDA, but it relies more on observation and approximations of healthy populations and less on scientific evidence .
- 1–3 years: 6 mg NE/day
- 4–8 years: 8 mg NE/day
- 9–13 years: 12 mg NE/day
Adolescents and adults
- Men ages 14 years and older: 16 mg NE/day
- Women ages 14 years and older: 14 mg NE/day
- Pregnant women: 18 mg NE/day
- Breastfeeding women: 17 mg NE/day
The recommended amount of niacin depends on your age and gender. Men need 16 mg NE per day, while women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding need 14 mg NE per day.
5 health benefits of niacin
1. Improves blood fat levels
Niacin may help to improve your blood fat levels by:
- increasing your HDL (good) cholesterol
- reducing your LDL (bad) LDL cholesterol
- reducing your triglyceride levels
This may translate to a decrease in heart disease risk, although several studies have found no link between niacin supplementation and a decrease in heart disease risk or deaths
It also takes high doses of niacin, typically 1,500 mg or greater, to achieve blood fat level improvements, which increases the risk of experiencing unpleasant or potentially harmful side effects
For these reasons, niacin is not a primary treatment for high cholesterol. It’s primarily used to help improve blood fat levels in people who cannot tolerate statin drugs
2. May reduce blood pressure
One role of niacin is to release prostaglandins, or chemicals that help your blood vessels widen — improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure. For this reason, niacin may play a role in the prevention or treatment of high blood pressure
In one observational study of over 12,000 adults, researchers found that each 1 mg increase in daily niacin intake was associated with a 2% decrease in high blood pressure risk — with the lowest overall high blood pressure risk seen at a daily niacin intake of 14.3 to 16.7 mg per
A high quality study also noted that single doses of 100 mg and 500 mg of niacin slightly reduced right ventricular systolic pressure .
However, more research is needed to confirm these effects.
3. May help treat type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which your body attacks and destroys insulin-creating cells in your pancreas.
There’s research to suggest that niacin could help protect those cells and possibly even lower the risk of type 1 diabetes in children who have a higher chance of developing this condition .
However, for people with type 2 diabetes, the role of niacin is more complicated.
On one hand, it can help lower the high cholesterol levels that are often seen in people with type 2 diabetes. On the other, it has the potential to increase blood sugar levels. As a result, people with diabetes who take niacin to treat high cholesterol also need to monitor their blood sugar carefully.
Fortunately, a more recent review of studies found that niacin did not have significant negative effects on blood sugar management in people with type 2 diabetes .
4. Boosts brain function
Your brain needs niacin — as a part of the coenzymes NAD and NADP — to get energy and function properly.
In fact, brain fog and even psychiatric symptoms are associated with niacin deficiency .
Some types of schizophrenia can be treated with niacin, as it helps undo damage to brain cells that’s caused by a niacin deficiency .
Preliminary research shows that it could also help keep the brain healthy in cases of Alzheimer’s disease. However, results are mixed .
5. Improves skin health
Niacin helps protect skin cells from sun damage, whether it’s used orally or applied as a lotion.
It may help prevent certain types of skin cancer as well. One high quality study in over 300 people at high risk of skin cancer found that taking 500 mg of nicotinamide twice daily reduced rates of nonmelanoma skin cancer compared to a control .
Niacin can help treat many conditions. It appears to exert positive effects on blood fat and blood pressure levels, and may play a role in type 1 diabetes, brain health, and skin cancer prevention. However, more research is needed.
Top food sources
Niacin is found in a variety of foods, especially meat, poultry, fish, nuts, and legumes. Some foods may also be fortified with niacin and other vitamins, like breakfast cereals .
Some energy drinks also list doses — sometimes high — of B vitamins .
Here are some common food sources of niacin, along with how much of the Daily Value (DV) they provide :
- grilled chicken breast, 3 ounces: 64% of the DV
- roasted turkey breast, 3 ounces: 63% of the DV
- cooked brown rice, 1 cup: 33% of the DV
- dry roasted peanuts, 1 ounce: 26% of the DV
- medium baked potato: 14% of the DV
Many foods contain niacin, especially meat, nuts, and legumes. Some foods are also fortified with extra B vitamins.
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Safety and side effects
There’s no danger in consuming niacin in the amounts found naturally in food.
However, supplemental doses can have various side effects, including nausea, vomiting, and liver toxicity .
Of particular note is one side effect known as niacin flush. This can occur when taking 30–50 mg or more of supplemental niacin in a single dose. It causes a reddening of the skin along with burning or itching sensations. While niacin flush in and of itself isn’t typically harmful, it may be accompanied by other unpleasant side effects like headache or low blood pressure
Before starting a niacin supplement, you should speak with a trusted healthcare professional.
Supplemental niacin can cause unpleasant side effects, like niacin flush. Speak with a healthcare professional before you start taking a niacin supplement.
Should you supplement?
Everyone needs niacin, but most people can get enough from their diet alone.
However, if you are deficient or have another condition that may benefit from higher doses, your doctor may recommend a supplement.
In particular, niacin supplements may be recommended for people with high cholesterol and heart disease risk factors but cannot take statins.
Supplemental forms are prescribed in doses that are much higher than the amounts found in food.
Since large amounts have many possible side effects, consult with a healthcare professional before taking niacin as part of any supplement. Also, keep in mind that the FDA does not regulate supplements in the same way it does drugs.
Niacin supplements may be recommended for certain conditions. However, they can have negative side effects, so you should always discuss with your healthcare provider before taking niacin.
The bottom line
Niacin is one of eight B vitamins that are important for every part of your body.
Luckily, you can get all the niacin you need through your diet. Foods that provide niacin include meat, fish, and nuts.
However, supplemental forms are sometimes recommended to treat certain medical conditions, including high cholesterol.
If you think you may need to take niacin, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional first.