Both Niacin (Nicotinic Acid) and Niacinamide are kinds of supplements, and both of them are also forms of vitamin B3. Very often, the supplement manufacturer calls these two as “niacin.” The truth is, they are different. Here we’ll discuss what distinguishes these family of Vitamin B3.
There are some cases when you can use them interchangeably, but some specific therapies call for specific forms of vitamin B3.
Consult with your doctor before you begin taking either supplement to make sure that you’re taking the right form, to check how it might interact with any drugs you’re taking, and assessing your risk of suffering from side effects.
According to the National Institute of Health, Niacin (nicotinic acid) and Niacinamide go together to form vitamin B3. This form can be found in yeast, cereal grains, milk, fish, meat, eggs and green leafy vegetables. (Also read: 18 Niacin Rich Foods). An amide is a chemical compound containing a carbonyl group (C=0) that is linked to a nitrogen atom.
The body can convert niacin into Niacinamide. Your body can also create Niacinamide from tryptophan, which is a kind of amino acid you can find in meat. The Niacinamide made from Tryptophan only accounts for a very small portion of the energy your body needs, according to “The Real Vitamins And Mineral Book” by Shari Lieberman and Nancy Pauling Bruning.
The Different Functions of Niacin and Niacimide
When you use Niacin and Niacinamide as vitamins, they have almost the same function, according to Andrea J. Mattitussi and Dian Blais, who wrote about this in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association. Both Niacin and Niacinamide are water soluble. Where they are different is their pharmaceutical properties.
Taking Niacin can cause skin flushing for example, whereas Niacinamide doesn’t have this vasodilating effect. This means Niacinamide doesn’t widen the blood vessels and doesn’t cause flushing. This makes Niacinamide a safe alternative treatment for niacin deficiency or pellagra. Pellagra is a wasting disease that is caused by not getting enough vitamin B3. Niacinamide does have some side effects however including hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating.
Having said that, Niacinamide doesn’t have sport enhancing benefit. So, if you want to take the niacin benefits to improve your physical performance at the gym, you should avoid taking non-flushing niacin supplement.
Niacin has an effect on the metabolism of fat and so it can be used to treat high cholesterol levels. Lieberman and Bruning say that you can’t use niacinamide for this purpose, however. Dr. Paul Jaconello of Toronto, Ontario says is the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association that when niacin becomes niacinamide it loses its ability to affect cholesterol.
On the other hand, the National Institutes of Health suggest that niacinamide can be used to treat osteoarthritis, but there needs to be more research done to confirm this.
Bruning and Lieberman say that only niacin should be used to treat circulatory problems.
Both niacin and niacinamide can be used in the treatment of mental disorders including depression and anxiety. They are often taken alongside other medications. They can also be used to tackle emotional or physical stress according to Bruning and Lieberman.
As the summary, have a look at the table of the difference between Niacin and Niacimide below.