Benefits, side effects, dosage and interactions

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Niacinamide (nicotinamide) is a form of vitamin B3 found in foods like eggs, milk, beans, most green vegetables, and meat. When you consume more niacin than your body needs, the excess is converted into niacinamide.

Niacinamide is found in many vitamin supplements, alone or in combination with other vitamins, and in many topical creams. Niacinamide can be purchased over the counter and is also listed (as nicotinamide) on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines.

Niacinamide should not be confused with niacin, which is another form of vitamin B3.

Health benefits

Illustration by Brianna Gilmartin, Verywell

What is niacinamide used for?

Pellagra is a disease caused by niacin deficiency; symptoms include rash, diarrhea, and dementia. Niacinamide supplements are an established mode of treatment for this condition. Although niacin can also be used to treat pellagra, niacinamide is often considered a better alternative because it does not cause the side effect of reddening of the skin that niacin might produce.

Scientific evidence supports its use for

  • Acne: Numerous studies have shown that niacinamide has anti-inflammatory properties that can help fight acne. A medical article reviewing previous trials on the use of niacinamide to treat acne showed that its use as a topical treatment or as an oral supplement resulted in a significant reduction in acne.Because there are no major side effects, many dermatologists recommend including niacinamide in acne treatments.
  • Cancer: A study published in the New England Journal Of Medicine showed that niacinamide was effective in reducing the risk of developing skin cancer.Participants at high risk of developing skin cancer who took niacinamide for 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.
  • Diabetes: Some studies have suggested that niacinamide is effective in the prevention and treatment of 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 in treating osteoarthritis by improving joint flexibility and reducing inflammation.It may be necessary to limit the use of anti-inflammatory drugs while taking supplements.
  • Hyperpigmentation and melasma: Niacinamide has been shown to decrease pigmentation and is considered a possible option for treating hyperpigmentation and melasma.There have also been early-stage clinical trials showing that niacinamide may be effective in treating photoaging.
  • Hyperphosphatemia: Hyperphosphatemia means that there is a high level of phosphorus (phosphate) in the blood, and it is one of the most common complications of chronic kidney disease. Some studies have shown that niacinamide can help both hyperphosphatemia and kidney disease when used in combination with other phosphate binders.This can safely reduce the amount of phosphate in the blood.

There isn’t enough scientific evidence to prove that niacinamide supplements can be used to lower blood pressure, prevent motion sickness, or treat a number of other conditions.

Possible side effects

Niacinamide is generally safe for consumption and for topical use. Minor side effects of taking niacinamide supplements are diarrhea, dizziness, itching, gas, heartburn, and mild headache. Side effects of applying niacinamide creams are redness, burning, and mild itching.When taken in large doses (more than 3 grams per day), niacinamide can have a negative or even toxic effect on the liver.

Talk to your healthcare professional before taking niacinamide if you:

  • are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have diabetes
  • Have liver disease
  • Have gallbladder disease
  • Have gout

It is best to consult a health care provider before taking niacinamide supplements before having surgery or taking blood thinning medication, as niacinamide reduces blood clotting.

Avoid alcohol consumption while taking niacinamide supplements.

Dosage and preparation

According to MedlinePlus from the United States National Library of Medicine, the following dosages are recommended:

  • For osteoarthritis, 3 grams of niacinamide should be taken daily for 12 weeks. The daily dose should be divided into small doses throughout the day.
  • For hyperphosphatemia, between 500 mg and 1.5 grams of niacinamide should be taken daily for eight to 12 weeks. As with osteoarthritis, this daily dose should be divided into smaller doses throughout the day.
  • For pellagra, 3g of niacinamide should be taken daily and divided into small doses.
  • For acne, supplements containing 750 mg of niacinamide combined with 25 mg of zinc, 1.5 mg of copper and 500 mcg of folic acid should be taken once or twice a day.

What to look for

When purchasing niacinamide supplements, be sure to look for the word “niacinamide” on the bottle or package label. Many products tout the benefits of niacinamide but contain niacin or other forms of vitamin B3.

A word from Verywell

Niacinamide supplements are generally safe to take and can potentially help with various medical conditions. However, before taking any supplements containing niacinamide, it is best to talk to your health care provider. This will allow you to know the right dosage to take to meet your health needs and goals.


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