Nicotinamide

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / Honayst

For Patients & Caregivers

In high-risk individuals, nicotinamide supplementation had protective effects against certain types of skin lesions and nonmelanoma skin cancers.

Nicotinamide is a water-soluble form of vitamin B3 or niacin. It is made in the body by eating niacin-rich foods such as fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, eggs, and cereal grains. Nicotinamide supplements are used to treat skin conditions and niacin deficiencies.

Recent studies suggest nicotinamide may protect against some forms of skin lesions in patients with sun-damaged skin. Additional studies are needed to confirm safety and effectiveness across different types of skin cancer and in different people. In addition, the protective effects of nicotinamide against UV exposure does not mean that it protects against sunburn.

To prevent skin cancer A large study found that taking nicotinamide can reduce the risk of getting certain types of skin cancers. A few small studies suggest it may also reduce the occurrence of rough scaly patches. Additional long-term studies are needed.

To treat acne and other skin conditions Nicotinamide is used as a medicine for treating skin conditions such as acne and rosacea.

  • You are taking anticonvulsants such as carbamazepine: Nicotinamide may increase the blood levels and risk of side effects of this drug.
  • You have low platelets: A meta-analysis suggests that using nicotinamide may increase the risk for low platelets, so patients should consult with their healthcare provider.

Largely well tolerated; high oral doses may cause

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fatigue, dizziness
  • Liver toxicity
  • Increased risk for low platelets

Although nicotinamide appears to protect against ultraviolet (UV) light exposure, it is not a substitute for sunscreen and does not protect against sunburn.

Even though niacin can become nicotinamide in the body, their effects and side effects when used as supplements are different and not interchangeable.

    For Healthcare Professionals

    Nicotinamide, also known as niacinamide, is a water-soluble amide form of niacin or vitamin B3. It is found in foods such as fish, poultry, eggs, and cereal grains. It is also marketed as a dietary supplement, and as a non-flushing form of niacin.

    Nicotinamide has established medical uses to treat conditions stemming from niacin deficiency such as pellagra. Oral and topical formulations are used to treat a variety of inflammatory skin conditions including acne vulgaris and rosacea.

    An animal study suggests nicotinamide supplementation can help prevent glaucoma by preserving mitochondrial function. Other preclinical models demonstrate photoimmunoprotective and chemopreventive effects against UV radiation. Nicotinamide enhances repair of UV radiation-induced DNA damage in human melanocytes and keratinocytes and similar effects have been demonstrated in human studies. Other clinical trials show oral nicotinamide reduces UV-induced and photodynamic therapy (PDT)-induced immunosuppression.

    In patients with sun-damaged skin, oral nicotinamide helped prevent the occurrence of nonaggressive skin cancers. In a small trial among renal transplant patients however, similar effects were not significant. Other studies found a reduction in actinic keratoses, a predictor of melanoma risk. Additional studies are warranted.

    Nicotinamide appears to be largely well tolerated in clinical studies. Even though niacin is converted into nicotinamide in the body, these two supplements should not be viewed as interchangeable as they have different side effect profiles. Fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, legumes, beef, cereal grains, fortified foods; smaller amounts are also found in green vegetables.