Niacinamide

What is Niacinamide?

Niacinamide, or Vitamin B-3, is an incredibly powerful skin protectant, rejuvenator, and tonal equalizer. A water-soluble form of a larger group of skin-friendly B-complex vitamins, it is a potent antioxidant. Recent research has shown that niacinamide can reverse some of the negative metabolic processes in diabetes (Kuchmerovska, Shymanskyy, Bondarenko, & Klimenko, 2008), including preventing the disease itself or delaying the need for insulin (Natural Standard Research Collaboration, 2009). It is only recently that the topical form of this B vitamin has been studied in regard to its potent use as a skin protectant, and its ability to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation (Ortonne & Bissett, 2008). Alongside the vitamins C, E and A, niacinamide is one of the few vitamins to consistently show benefits when applied to the skin, and when applied in the correct concentrations over time. The following article will give an overview of the skin-boosting effects of niacinamide, including some of the many emerging clinical studies that show promising benefits of this healing vitamin on the skin.

How Does Niacinamide Boost Skin Health?

The body can naturally create niacinamide from a type of amino acid found in the foods we eat. This amino acid is called tryptophan. Niacinamide is also a substance that the skin needs in order to create NADH, an important coenzyme that aids in the skin’s ability to produce healing enzymatic reactions. These reactions are important for many of the metabolic processes that the skin undergoes in order to create cellular glucose, cellular energy, synthesis of lipids, as well as the other processes needed for the skin’s continued growth and regeneration. As we age, our skin’s ability to produce optimal levels of NADH decreases. Studies show that the application of topical niacinamide may aid not only in slowing this decline, but may also have the ability to reverse it. With its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory attributes, niacinamide is a relatively safe way of treating many common skin issues such as acne, rosacea, and wrinkles. In fact, when the body is deficient in this important vitamin, the skin is often the first to show it in the form of skin lesions, rashes, dry flaky skin, wrinkles, and an overall leathery skin texture.

Studies show that niacinamide:

  • Has powerful anti-inflammatory capacities, and may be useful in treating acne. A randomized controlled study from the New York University College of Medicine found that after a period of eight weeks, applications of topical niacinamide gel improved the appearance of acne in 82% of patients.
  • May increase range of movement and reduce pain in those suffering from osteoarthritis (Balch, 2006).
  • May reduce rosacea, skin redness, and skin sensitivity. One study shows that the topical antioxidant niacinamide can reduce both the redness and skin reactivity to irritants commonly found in beauty products, household cleaning products and laundry detergents.
  • May reduce hyperpigmentation, as it inhibits the movement of skin pigment into skin cells, a process which creates dark spots on the surface of the skin (Bissett, Oblong, & Berge, 2005).
  • May stop elasticity and collagen-loss in the skin, a precursor to sagging wrinkles (Bissett, Oblong, & Berge, 2005).
  • May play a significant role in the general rejuvenation of the skin. Several emerging studies on this hot topic have shown promising results in topical niacinamide’s potential to boost the skin’s ability to create of ceramides. Ceramides are natural emollients that protect the skin from free-radicals. They also aid in keeping the skin well-hydrated and youthful.
  • Is a great overall skin protectant. Some studies suggest that niacinamide has the ability to guard the skin from the harmful effects of UV rays. It may also aid in helping the skin protect itself from general environmental pollutants.
  • May reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, red spots, as well as general skin blotchiness. A recent double-blind study from Procter and Gamble found that 5% topical niacinamide, over a period of 12-weeks, demonstrated significant improvement in the appearance of wrinkles and other skin issues in women.

Dosage and Potential Side Effects

Most gel-forms of topical niacinamide on the market today have levels of anywhere from 2 to 5% concentrations of niacinamide. Generally very safe for the skin, it also does not cause the skin to form a resistance to bacteria like antimicrobial topical gels used to treat acne and related conditions. It is gentler than retinoid gels and can be taken with antibiotics without any adverse effects. In very sensitive skin types, it may cause mild skin dryness or irritation. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should consult their doctor before using topical niacinamide supplementation. As with any medication or supplement, consult with your doctor if you are taking any other medications, for possible interactions.

 
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