The Health Benefits of Niacinamide

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 either alone or in combination with other vitamins, and in many topical creams. Niacinamide can be bought over the counter and it 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

Niacinamide health benefits
Illustration by Brianna Gilmartin, Verywell

Proven Benefits

Pellagra is a condition caused by the deficiency of niacin. 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 skin flushing side effect that niacin could produce.

Scientific evidence supports its use for

  • Acne: Many studies have shown that niacinamide has anti-inflammatory properties that can help with acne. A medical article analyzing past trials of using niacinamide to treat acne showed that using it as a topical treatment or as an oral supplement resulted in a significant reduction of acne. Since 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 at reducing the risk of developing skin cancers. Participants at high risk of developing skin cancer who took niacinamide over one year reduced their risk of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma by 23 percent. 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 preventing and treating 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 at treating osteoarthritis by improving joint flexibility and reducing inflammation. It may be necessary to limit the use of anti-inflammatory drugs while taking the supplements.
  • Hyperpigmentation and melasma: Niacinamide has been found to decrease pigmentation and is considered a possible option to deal with hyperpigmentation and melasma. There have also been early-stage clinical trails showing that niacinamide may be effective for treating photoaging.
  • Hyperphosphatemia: Hyperphosphatemia means 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 with both hyperphosphatemia and kidney disease when used in combination with other phosphate binders. This can safely reduce the amount of phosphate in the bloodstream.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no scientific evidence to prove that niacinamide supplements can be used to lower cholesterol levels. However, niacin, another form of vitamin B3 is what has been proven to help reduce high cholesterol levels.

Possible Side Effects

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

Speak with your doctor 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 doctor before taking niacinamide supplements prior to undergoing surgeries or taking any anticoagulant medication because niacinamide reduces your blood clotting.

Avoid the consumption of alcohol while taking niacinamide supplements.

Dosage and Preparation

According to the U.S National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus, the following dosages are recommended:

  • For osteoarthritis, 3 grams of niacinamide are to be taken daily for 12 weeks. The daily dose is to be divided into small doses throughout the day.
  • For hyperphosphatemia, between 500 mg to 1.5 grams of niacinamide is to be taken daily for eight to 12 weeks. As with osteoarthritis, this daily dose should be divided into small doses throughout the day.
  • For pellagra, between 300 g to 500 g of niacinamide is to be taken daily and divided into small doses.
  • For acne, supplements that contain 750 mg of niacinamide combined with 25 mg of zinc, 1.5 mg of copper, and 500 mcg of folic acid is to be taken once or two times daily.

What to Look for

When purchasing niacinamide supplements, make sure to look for the word "niacinamide" on the label of the bottle or packaging. 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 possibly help with various medical conditions. However, before taking any supplements containing niacinamide, it is best to speak with your physician. This will ensure that you to know the right dosage to take to help with your health needs and goals.

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Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Chen AC, Martin AJ, Choy B, et al. A Phase 3 Randomized Trial of Nicotinamide for Skin-Cancer Chemoprevention. N Engl J Med. 2015;373(17):1618-26. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1506197

  • Edalat-nejad M, Zameni F, Talaiei A. The effect of niacin on serum phosphorus levels in dialysis patients. Indian J Nephrol. 2012;22(3):174-8. DOI: 10.4103/0971-4065.98751

  • Medlineplus.gov. Niacinamide: MedlinePlus Supplements. 2018.

  • Walocko FM, Eber AE, Keri JE, Al-harbi MA, Nouri K. The role of nicotinamide in acne treatment. Dermatol Ther. 2017;30(5). DOI: 10.1111/dth.12481