What is the difference between B3 Niacin and Nicotinamide

The differences between Vitamin B3 Niacin and B3 Nicotinamide

Niacin and nicotinamide are the forms of the B3 vitamin. They’re often used interchangeably but have slightly different properties.

Niacin, known also as nicotinic acid, is an essential human nutrient known as Vitamin B3. All corners of the body need it to function as they should. First described in 1873, the name niacin is a compound formed from nicotinic acid + vitamin.

Nicotinamide, also called niacinamide, is “nicotinic acid amide”. An amide is a chemical compound that contains a carbonyl group that is linked to a nitrogen atom. The body is able to convert niacin into nicotinamide.

You’ll find both of these vitamin B3 forms in such foods as yeast, milk, eggs, green vegetables and cereal grains.

Both Niacin and Nicotinamide are water-soluble but have different properties. So let’s have a look at what each of them is, where they overlap and what their specific uses are.

B3 Niacin

Niacin has vasodilation properties. This means that it expands the capillaries (fine blood vessels) under the skin so more blood flows to the skin making it red and itchy. This effect is called the ‘niacin flush’.

Though the niacin flush is uncomfortable it’s not harmful. It’s also a temporary effect in two ways; it disappears an hour or so after it starts and after continued usage it often stops happening at all.

The vasodilation properties of niacin make it useful in where high blood pressure is present. It’s of benefit too with high cholesterol and high triglycerides counts.

B3 Nicotinamide

Nicotinamide does not have the vasodilating action of niacin (and no niacin flush), it’s not therefore a substitute for niacin in correcting blood fat levels.

It is though a preferred support for osteoarthritis and type 1 diabetes. There’s evidence too that nicotinamide may preserve and enhance neurocognitive functions.

Vitamin B3 uses (both forms)

Both niacin and nicotinamide are used in B3 deficiency and also can be helpful with depression, anxiety and address physical stress.

They’re also vital for the production of Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) – a vitamin B3-coenzyme found in all living cells.

More on NAD

NAD (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is a B3 coenzyme found in all living cells and is crucial for life itself.

NAD can be made from both vitamin B3 and L-tryptophan. But L-tryptophan is also needed to make the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin. Because making NAD is a priority for your body, in the absence of vitamin B3 it will use L-tryptophan supply for that purpose before it uses it for anything else.

So, if your body doesn’t get enough vitamin B3 or you haven’t increased your L-tryptophan intake, the production of melatonin and serotonin may well be impaired. And that has possible negative effects on mood, mental health or cognitive functions.

Studies are currently underway into the value of NAD+ (an oxidized from of NAD) as an anti-aging chemical. Hopes are high that it will have the ability to reverse age-related changes in DNA. An actual fountain of youth indeed.