7 Research-Backed Benefits Of Niacinamide
By Tyler Woodward
Niacinamide is one of the two naturally occuring forms of Vitamin B3. Niacinamide also known as nicotinamide, is most well known for its role in glucose metabolism, but also brings a host of benefits along with it.
- Benefits Of Niacinamide
- How Niacinamide Works
- Niacin Vs. Niacinamide
- Foods Contain Niacin/Niacinamide
Benefits Of Niacinamide:
- Increases glucose metabolism - NIacinamide inhibits the SIRT1 gene which promotes fatty acid oxidation ( the use of fat instead of sugar for fuel). Burning glucose for fuel results in the creation of less reactive oxidant species and thereby less oxidative stress than fat metabolism.
- Increases Aerobic Capacity - A number of studies have found that niacinamide supplementation improves athletes aerobic capacities.
- Improves redox balance - Your cells contain a ratio of NAD+: NADH which represents in part the cell’s energy state. The higher your NAD+:NADH ratio, you are in an increased energetic state.
- Increases growth hormone release - Niacinamide has been shown to increase the release of growth hormone during exercise (1, 2)
- Improves skin health - Niacinamide helps to build keratin, which is one of the main proteins in your skin that is responsible for keeping it impermeable. As a result, niacinamide has been shown to decrease wrinkles and help retain moisture in the skin.
- Protects against oxidative stress & Inflammation - Niacinamide helps reduce the production of a number of inflammatory cytokines among other molecules.
- May improve mental health & cognitive performance - Niacinamide has repeatedly been shown to help reduce depression in mice and may also improve cognitive function as a result of an improved energy state in the brain.
Read More: The Importance Of Micronutrients
How Niacinamide Works:
Virtually all of the benefits of niacinamide come from its ability to increase glucose metabolism and the NAD+:NADH ratio.
Increases NAD+:NADH Ratio:
NAD stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide and niacinamide happens to be a direct precursor to NAD+ (The H is just the addition of a hydrogen). The cell must maintain an ample balance of NAD+:NADH or it will not be able to perform oxidative phosphorylation (cellular energy production). The higher the NAD+:NADH ratio the higher the energy balance of the cell and the more ATP it's capable of producing. The more ATP a cell produces the more capacity it has to fortify and repair itself compared to just survive.
Increased Glucose Oxidation:
Niacinamide potently inactivates the expression of the SIRT1 gene. The SIRT1 gene is responsible for regulating lipid or fat metabolism, by shutting this gene off you are forcing the body to utilize its primary fuel source glucose.
Glucose metabolism directly increases your metabolic rate via its increased production of CO2. For every molecule of oxygen consumed in glucose metabolism 1 molecule of CO2 is produced, this is extremely important because CO2 directly controls how much oxygen can enter your cells. The more CO2 produced, the more oxygen that your cells can absorb and therefore the more glucose your cells can burn with it.
In contrast, fat and protein metabolism use more O2 than they produce CO2 and are less efficient for those reasons.
Increasing glucose metabolism and your body’s ability to utilize glucose for fuel directly improve the amount of ATP your cells produce which again allows for a number of favorable effects.
Read More: The Benefits Of Sugar
Niacin Vs. Niacinamide:
Technically, niacin nor niacinamide are true vitamins because they can be produced in the body from the amino acid tryptophan, but you must also consume adequate niacin/niacinamide in your diet becuase you body can’t produce enough to satisfy its needs.
Structurally, the difference between niacin and niacinamide is that niacin has a hydroxide (OH) group, while niacinamide has an amine (NH2) group. Niacin can be converted into niacinamide in the body, so they are both considered Vitamin B3. Because they are structurally similar and can be interconverted they have similar chemical properties and effects, but with one big difference. Niacinamide does not cause flushing, while niacin does if enough is consumed.
Flushing is the reddening of the skin that results from the release of the inflammatory prostaglandins in the body by niacin and the vasodilation (arteries widening) that occurs in the skin. For these reasons, I prefer supplementing with niacinamide because it has almost all the benefits of niacin without the detriments.
Read More: What Is Niacin, Vitamin B3?
Foods Containing Niacin/Niacinamide:
For some reason it's nearly impossible to information on whether niacin or niacinamide is found in foods, likely as a result of them being interchangeably called Vitamin B3. Vitamin B3 is found in
- Organ meats including liver, heart, kidney
- Muscle meats from pork, beef, chicken or turkey
- Roasted Coffee
- Dairy Products
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