Here’s how Vitamin B3 helps slow the signs of aging
You’ve probably heard Vitamin B3 is great for promoting your skin’s health and reducing the signs of aging, but does it actually work?
Let’s break down why Vitamin B3 and how it gives you younger, healthier looking skin.
Understanding the many names of Vitamin B3
The first thing you need to know is that there are several different ways of referring to Vitamin B3, and you might have to check the labels of your skincare and supplements for all the different terms to understand exactly what’s in your products.
The scientific name for Vitamin B3 is nicotinic acid, also known as niacin. That’s the generic term and the one we’ll use in this post. Don’t freak out. “niacin” is interchangeable with nicotinic acid and Vitamin B3.
Niacin is a micronutrient that’s important for helping regulate your metabolism and nervous system function. The best part? It also has antioxidant properties — which make it great in anti-aging skincare. It’s classed as an essential nutrient, which means our bodies need it to survive.
But here’s the catch. We can’t make it ourselves. The only way we can get niacin is through our food or supplements.
We also can’t keep all of what we ingest. Niacin is water-soluble, so we regularly expel unused niacin through urine rather than storing it in our bodies. Because of this, it’s important to eat a consistent supply of niacin-rich foods, or take a regular supplement. The good news is we don’t need a lot of niacin to get by — the recommended daily allowance is 16mg for men and 14mg for women — and it’s found in a lot of different foods.
Some of the best sources of niacin include animal-based foods including chicken, tuna, salmon, pork, and turkey. 16mg is found in your typical turkey sandwich. However that doesn’t mean you can’t get enough of it in a vegetarian/vegan diet, as it’s also found in avocados, peanuts, and mushrooms. Many whole grain foods are also fortified with niacin.
The other common terms you’ll hear relating to Vitamin B3 are nicotinamide and niacinamide. These are interchangeable with each other, but not with niacin/Vitamin B3. That’s because while they’re molecularly similar to Vitamin B3, and have many of the same effects, they aren’t the exact same thing. For many anti-aging and health uses however, they’re close enough that they’re counted as Vitamin B3 by the skincare industry.
For the purposes of this post, we’ll use “niacinamide” to refer to these other compounds. Remember that niacin is Vitamin B3, and niacinamide is a close relative in the Vitamin B3 family.
What do niacin and niacinamide do?
These two compounds are very similar and share a lot of the same properties and effects. The main function of both niacin and niacinamide is to convert into its main metabolically active form, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, better known as NAD+.
NAD+ is a molecule that lives in our cells and helps with biological processes like getting energy from food and setting our circadian rhythms. NAD+ is also super important to the health and aging processes, because it supports the immune system and repairs damaged DNA.
Studies have shown that as we get older, our NAD+ levels actually decline, and that’s associated with age-related pathologies such as cellular senescence, which is where healthy cells stop dividing properly and ultimately die. Research has also linked a lack of NAD+ dependent enzymes to age-related neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Basically, NAD+ plays an important part in our bodies’ functions and aging processes deep down at a cellular level, and NAD+ is made from niacin and/or niacinamide.
That’s great for our overall health, but niacin and niacinamide also have benefits for our skin’s appearance. They increase the level of healthy lipids called ceramides, which bind cells together, creating a protective layer that locks in moisture and plumps the skin. This improves the appearance and texture of dry skin, as well as provides a more effective barrier against viruses, bacteria, and other antigens.
Niacin and niacinamide also promote skin health by boosting collagen, and they also have antioxidant properties that fight free radicals. Free radicals are unpaired electrons that can destabilize cells, damaging their molecular structure and DNA in a process known as oxidative stress. Too many free radicals can cause widespread collapse of cell structures, which appears as wrinkles in the skin.
When I began my skincare line, I took this to heart. At Qyral we use Vitamin B3 in all of our age-well skincare products and nutraceutical supplements. Niacin and niacinamide are effective at treating your body and helping it to age well inside and out.
The differences between niacin and niacinamide
While both niacin and niacinamide provide all these great benefits to your skin and your whole body, they do have some differences. The most significant difference is how they interact with fat.
Niacin can even raise your high density lipid or HDL cholesterol (that’s your good cholesterol) and help lower LDL bad cholesterol and triglycerides, which can help prevent heart disease. If you have high cholesterol, you might be prescribed niacin or choose to take it as a supplement to help you stay healthier.
Niacinamide does not have the same effect on lipids, so if you want to take a Vitamin B3 supplement to help with cholesterol, you need to take one that contains niacin, not niacinamide. You might need to check the label to be sure. Some supplements will say they contain niacin but not elsewhere on the label that it’s actually delivered in the form of niacinamide, so you have to really look hard at what the ingredients label says.
Niacin’s lipid-boosting properties make it the obvious choice if you want to take a Vitamin B3 supplement but it does have a downside, and that’s skin flushing and rashes. A lot of people don’t tolerate niacin very well and the visible side effects can be distressing, particularly if you want to incorporate it into a skincare routine.
Because the overall health benefits are so beneficial, it’s a good idea to try a supplement or skincare product that contains niacin as a first option, and switch to niacinamide if you have a reaction.
Vitamin B3 in a nutshell…
So let’s recap. Vitamin B3 can mean several different things when you see it in your skincare and supplements. Niacin and nicotinic acid are both common names for Vitamin B3. If you see niacinamide or nicotinamide, that’s a compound in the Vitamin B3 family that has a lot of the same effects.
Both niacin and niacinamide are great at helping your skin look and feel healthier, and protect you from the effects of aging by helping your cells repair and defend themselves. Niacin has the added bonus of helping to reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, which niacinamide doesn’t do. However, more people can have a reaction to niacin that causes skin flushing and rashes.
We can get niacin from our food but most of us, especially as we get older, don’t get enough, so to get the full health benefits it’s helpful to take Vitamin B3 supplements. Niacin has the most overall benefits, but many people are unable to take it because they suffer from side effects. Niacin can also interact with cholesterol medication, so always speak to your doctor before starting a new supplement if you’re taking any medication. If you can’t take niacin for any reason, niacinamide is a good substitute that will give you the same age-well benefits.
At Qyral.com, we know that healthy skin starts at a cellular level. But not all skincare was created equal. And the vast majority of skincare on the market, weren’t designed for Your Skin.