Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is a water-soluble vitamin that is not stored in the body. Niacin is an essential nutrient that the body needs to function properly. Niacin may play a role in different processes in the organism and is necessary for overall wellness.
Niacin may be found in a variety of foods, including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fortified foods.
Research has also studied the role of niacin and nicotinamide on DNA (study),* cholesterol levels, heart health and diabetes (study),* cognitive function (study)*, and nervous system function as a mediator of neural development (study).*
Niacin and skin health
Niacin and particularly nicotinamide may play a role in the health of our skin for certain types of individuals (study).* Niacinamide, a form of niacin, is often used as part of different skin and cosmetic treatments (study).* More research has to be performed about the role of niacinamide as an antioxidant and its role on skin health as part of other types of ingredients.
Topical niacinamide might positively support inflammation and redness associated with certain types of conditions in certain individuals and overall skin complexion. In addition, topical niacinamide may help also provide a support for the appearance of certain fine lines and wrinkles (study).*
Niacin and cholesterol
Niacin might also be used to support different levels of cholesterol when mixed with different treatment options such as statins (Mayo Clinic).* Niacin may play a role on LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and in HDL (good) cholesterol levels.*
LDL cholesterol is a type of cholesterol that can build up on the walls of arteries and cause heart disease. HDL cholesterol may help the lipid profiles of certain types of individuals (study).*
Niacin and cognitive function
Niacin might also play a role in cognitive function when associated with different ingredients (study).*
In a particular study, participants who took a range of vitamin B throughout young adulthood experienced a positive change in cognitive function during midlife (study).*
Niacin and DNA
Niacin is required for the synthesis of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which is a coenzyme that plays a role in DNA (study).* NAD+ is used by enzymes that break down damaged DNA strands and by enzymes that synthesize new DNA strands.
Niacin and ATP production
Niacin may be involved in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), one of the main energy sources for cells. ATP is produced through a process called cellular respiration, which involves the breakdown of glucose molecules. During this process, electrons are transferred from glucose to oxygen, producing water and carbon dioxide as byproducts. This transfer of electrons generates a proton gradient across cell membranes, which drives the production of ATP. Niacin might be required for this process to occur smoothly.*
Niacin and NADH production
Another important role of niacin in energy metabolism is its involvement in the production of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH). NADH is a coenzyme that plays a central role in cellular respiration by transferring electrons from glucose to oxygen. NADH also plays a role in other biochemical reactions, such as fatty acid synthesis and glycolysis. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide can be recycled back to niacin through a process called the salvage pathway. This pathway allows cells to reuse and recycle niacin, making it an important part of energy metabolism.
Niacin deficiencies are relatively rare in developed countries. However, certain groups of people might be more at risk for niacin deficiency, including alcoholics, diabetics, certain pregnant women, and the elderly in some situations.*
As always, talk to your doctor before taking any supplements. Get professional advice if you think you might need a niacin supplement, niacinamide supplement, or are already taking one to ensure you're not exceeding the amounts you may need.*