Difference Between Niacin and Niacinamide

Niacin and Niacinamide are two forms of Vitamin B3 supplements. Difference between Niacin and Niacinamide is not known to many people with the result that many take any of the two as vitamin supplement. But the fact is that Vitamin B3, which is an important part in the vitamin B series, comes in two forms that are known as Niacin and Niacinamide. Like all forms of Vitamin B, both Niacin and Niacinamide have important health benefits, and collectively, they are known as Vitamin B3. Deficiency of Vitamin B3 in body causes a disease called pellagra. Common symptoms of pellagra are dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia. In extreme cases, deficiency of B3 may even lead to death.

Like all Vitamin B forms, both Niacin and Niacinamide are water soluble and get dispersed in the body. It is necessary to replenish Vitamin B3 regularly, and any overdose is not harmful as any excess is excreted in urine. Both play an important role in tissue oxidation and production of energy. They are also involved in metabolism of fats known as cholesterol. Both Niacin and Niacinamide are available as heath supplements. Many people take them interchangeably, but it is always prudent to consult a doctor before taking them as both have different effects on body.

Our body is capable of converting Niacin into Niacinamide. Body can also make Niacinamide from Tryptophan, which is an amino acid found in animal foods. Though both Niacin and Niacinamide have similar effects, their pharmacological properties are different. High doses of Niacin can cause flushing. However, since Niacinamide does not have a blood vessel dilating effect, it does not lead to skin flushing. Thus doctors prefer it over Niacin when treating pellagra which is a wasting disease resulting from vitamin B3. However, Niacinamide can cause excessive sweating.

Niacin can be used for treating high cholesterol levels but Niacinamide is not used for this purpose. As Niacinamide is an amide of Niacin, its Cholesterol lowering properties are inhibited. Niacinamide is recommended for use in treating osteoarthritis though more research in this regard is needed.

Both Niacin and Niacinamide are used for treatment of emotional and physical stress and either of the two can be used for treatment of depression and anxiety.

The real difference between Niacin and Niacinamide lies in the fact that while Niacin contains an organic acid group, Niacinamide contains an amino group. An amide is a chemical compound that contains a carbonyl group (C=O) that is linked to a nitrogen atom.

For circulatory problems, Niacin rather than Niacinamide is preferred as it has greater cholesterol and triglyceride lowering properties.

Whether taken in Niacin form or Niacinamide form, doctors recommend taking them in conjunction with Vitamin B1, B2, and C, which makes them more effective.