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Vitamin B3
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Vitamin B3 Usage

Written by FoundHealth.


Effect of Vitamin B3 on Acne

Niacinamide gel might help treat acne by addressing the infection and inflammation associated with the condition.

Read more about Acne and Niacinamide Gel.

Effect of Vitamin B3 on Lipid Disorders

Niacin can have a number of favorable effects on serum (blood) lipids--it reduces bad cholesterol, increases good cholesterol, and reduces triglycerides. It probably reduces levels of bad cholesterol...

Read more about Lipid Disorders and Vitamin B3.

Therapeutic Uses

There is no question that niacin (but not niacinamide) can significantly improve cholesterol profile, reducing levels of total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol and raising HDL ("good") cholesterol. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 However, unpleasant flushing reactions as well as a risk of liver inflammation and dangerous interactions with other cholesterol-lowering drugs have kept niacin from being widely used (see Safety Issues ).

Niacinamide may improve blood sugar control in both children and adults who already have diabetes. 8 In addition, some evidence had suggested that regular use of niacinamide (but not niacin) might help preventdiabetes in children at special risk of developing it; 9 unfortunately, subsequent studies indicate that it probably does not work. 10 Preliminary evidence suggests that niacinamide may be able to decrease symptoms of osteoarthritis 11 and help control polymorphous light eruption, a type of photosensitivity . 12 Somewhat surprisingly, topicalniacinamide has shown some promise for skin conditions. In a double-blind study of 50 women with signs of aging skin , use of a niacinamide cream significantly improved skin appearance and elasticity as compared to placebo cream. 13 Niacinamide cream has also shown promise for rosacea . 14 The inositol hexaniacinate form of niacin (taken orally) may be helpful for intermittent claudication 15 and Raynaud's phenomenon . 16

In addition, weak and in some cases contradictory evidence suggests one of the several forms of niacin might be helpful for people with bursitis , 17 cataracts , 18 HIV infection, 19 pregnancy , 20 schizophrenia , 21 22 23 24 25 26 and tardive dyskinesia . 27 A new use of niacin was reported in 2007: it appears that some people take very high doses of niacin (in the neighborhood of 2.5 to 5 grams at a time ) in the belief that it will mask drugs in the urine. 28 However, not only does niacin fail to conceal the presence of drugs on a urine drug screen, when taken suddenly at doses this high, niacin can cause life-threatening problems involving the liver and heart. In addition, it can dangerously disturb blood sugar regulation and blood coagulation.


  1. Illingworth DR, Stein EA, Mitchel YB, Dujovne CA, Frost PH, Knopp RH, Tun P, Zupkis RV, Greguski RA. Comparative effects of lovastatin and niacin in primary hypercholesterolemia. A prospective trial. Arch Intern Med. 154(14):1586-95.
  2. Guyton JR, Goldberg AC, Kreisberg RA, Sprecher DL, Superko HR, O'Connor CM. Effectiveness of once-nightly dosing of extended-release niacin alone and in combination for hypercholesterolemia. Am J Cardiol. 82(6):737-43.
  3. Vega GL, Grundy SM. Lipoprotein responses to treatment with lovastatin, gemfibrozil, and nicotinic acid in normolipidemic patients with hypoalphalipoproteinemia. Arch Intern Med. 154(1):73-82.
  4. Lal SM, Hewett JE, Petroski GF, Van Stone JC, Ross G Jr. Effects of nicotinic acid and lovastatin in renal transplant patients: a prospective, randomized, open-labeled crossover trial. Am J Kidney Dis. 25(4):616-22.
  5. Canner PL, Berge KG, Wenger NK, Stamler J, Friedman L, Prineas RJ, Friedewald W. Fifteen year mortality in Coronary Drug Project patients: long-term benefit with niacin. J Am Coll Cardiol. 8(6):1245-55.
  6. Guyton JR, Blazing MA, Hagar J, Kashyap ML, Knopp RH, McKenney JM, Nash DT, Nash SD. Extended-release niacin vs gemfibrozil for the treatment of low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Niaspan-Gemfibrozil Study Group. Arch Intern Med. 160(8):1177-84.
  7. Elam MB, Hunninghake DB, Davis KB, Garg R, Johnson C, Egan D, Kostis JB, Sheps DS, Brinton EA. Effect of niacin on lipid and lipoprotein levels and glycemic control in patients with diabetes and peripheral arterial disease: the ADMIT study: A randomized trial. Arterial Disease Multiple Intervention Trial. JAMA. 284(10):1263-70.
  8. Pozzilli P, Visalli N, Signore A, Baroni MG, Buzzetti R, Cavallo MG, Boccuni ML, Fava D, Gragnoli C, Andreani D. Double blind trial of nicotinamide in recent-onset IDDM (the IMDIAB III study). Diabetologia. 38(7):848-52.
  9. Elliott RB, Pilcher CC, Fergusson DM, Stewart AW. A population based strategy to prevent insulin-dependent diabetes using nicotinamide. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 9(5):501-9.
  10. Gale EA, Bingley PJ, Emmett CL, Collier T, European Nicotinamide Diabetes Intervention Trial (ENDIT) Group. European Nicotinamide Diabetes Intervention Trial (ENDIT): a randomised controlled trial of intervention before the onset of type 1 diabetes. Lancet. 363(9413):925-31.
  11. Jonas WB, Rapoza CP, Blair WF. The effect of niacinamide on osteoarthritis: a pilot study. Inflamm Res. 45(7):330-4.
  12. Neumann R, Rappold E, Pohl-Markl H. Treatment of polymorphous light eruption with nicotinamide: a pilot study. Br J Dermatol. 115(1):77-80.
  13. Bissett DL, Oblong JE, Berge CA, et al. Niacinamide: A B vitamin that improves aging facial skin appearance. Dermatol Surg. 2005;31:860-865; discussion 865.
  14. Draelos ZD, Ertel K, Berge C. Niacinamide-containing facial moisturizer improves skin barrier and benefits subjects with rosacea. Cutis. 76(2):135-41.
  15. Head KA. Inositol hexaniacinate: a safer alternative to niacin. Altern Med Rev. 1996;1:176-184.
  16. Sunderland GT, Belch JJ, Sturrock RD, Forbes CD, McKay AJ. A double blind randomised placebo controlled trial of hexopal in primary Raynaud's disease. Clin Rheumatol. 7(1):46-9.
  17. Kellman M. Bursitis: a new chemotherapeutic approach. J Am Osteopathic Assoc. 1962;61:896-903.
  18. Sperduto RD, Hu TS, Milton RC, et al. The Linxian cataract studies. Two nutrition intervention trials. Arch Ophthamol. 1993;111:1246-1253.
  19. Tang AM, Graham NM, Saah AJ. Effects of micronutrient intake on survival in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection. Am J Epidemiol. 143(12):1244-56.
  20. Doyle W, Crawford MA, Wynn AH, et al. The association between maternal diet and birth dimensions. J Nutr Med. 1990;1:9-17.
  21. Ananth JV, Ban TA, Lehmann HE. Potentiation of therapeutic effects of nicotinic acid by pyridoxine in chronic schizophrenics. Can Psychiatr Assoc J. 18(5):377-83.
  22. Hawkins DR, Bortin AW, Runyon RP. Orthomolecular psychiatry: niacin and megavitamin therapy. Psychosomatics. 11(5):517-21.
  23. Hoffer A. Megavitamin B-3 therapy for schizophrenia. Can Psychiatr Assoc J. 16(6):499-504.
  24. Newbold HL, Mosher LR. Niacin and the schizophrenic patient. Am J Psychiatry. 127(4):535-6.
  25. Petrie WM, Ban TA. Vitamins in psychiatry. Do they have a role? Drugs. 30(1):58-65.
  26. Procter A. Enhancement of recovery from psychiatric illness by methylfolate. Br J Psychiatry. 159():271-2.
  27. Kunin RA. Manganese and niacin in the treatment of drug-induced tardive dyskinesias. J Orthomol Psychiatry 5:4-27, 1976. In: Werbach MR. Nutritional Influences on Illness [book on CD-ROM]. 2nd ed. Tarzana, CA; 1996.
  28. Mittal MK, Florin T, Perrone J, Delgado JH, Osterhoudt KC. Toxicity from the use of niacin to beat urine drug screening. Ann Emerg Med. 50(5):587-90.


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