You’ve seen it on the ingredients list of our topical skincare products, and learnt about it’s local benefits to skin, but did you know that supplemental oral Niacinamide generates profound benefits throughout the entire body?
What is Niacinamide?
- Niacinamide (NAM) is the active, amide form of niacin (Vitamin B3).
- It’s also referred to as nicotinamide (same thing).
- A key energy-promoting, life-supportive substance.
What does it do in the body?
- Niacinamide provides energy to the mitochondrial system, playing a very role in metabolism.
- Essential for the functioning of the electron transport chain in the mitochondria of the cells (to make energy).
Precursor to NAD+ … What is NAD+?
- Niacinamide serves as a reliable precursor to NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) which is a signalling molecule found in all living cells that plays a vitally important role in the conversion of food to energy, repairing damaged DNA, improving cell function and optimising cell survival and lifespan
- NAD+ is a co-enzyme for redox reactions, and a co-factor for NAD-dependant enzymes; there are at least 300 enzymes in the body that rely on NAD+ for their activity.
- NAD+ is also essential for the production of a group of signalling proteins, sirtuins, that deplete with age. They are involved in many physiological functions and may be responsible for lifespan extension.
- When NAD+ reduces (donates its electron), it becomes NADH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide plus hydrogen). It is crucial that the ratio of NAD to NADH be majorly in favour of NAD+ for optimum health, healing, and resistance to disease.
- This ratio also dictates the speed of your metabolism.
“in the normal metabolism you should have three to five hundred times more NAD+ to NADH, in a rapidly oxidising state.” - Ray Peat
- NAD+ levels naturally decline with age; levels may be 50% less in your 60’s than what they were in your 20’s, and by 70 you may only have 10% of what you started with.
- NAD+ decline is further accelerated by excessive stress, DNA-damaging radiation (EMFs from mobiles, WiFi, X-rays and CT Scans), over-consumption of alcohol and too many late nights.
“There are many studies, going back decades, demonstrating that a drop in NAD+ levels, and thus of NAD to NADH, is a common feature of virtually all neurodegenerative diseases.” - Georgi Dinkov, IdeaLabs
- The good news is that Niacinamide, by generating more NAD+, raises the NAD:NADH ratio, increasing cell lifespan and elevating the energetic state of all cells.
- Better still, not only is Niacinamide a precursor to NAD+, but it’s also shown to be an inhibitor of the very enzymes that consume NAD+ (PARP-1 and SIRT), while better supporting the NAD salvage pathway (more on this ahead), unlike other NAD+ precursors options on the market. – source.
“Niacinamide happens to be a very safe way to inhibit (PARP-1) enzyme. At the same time it is the precursor for making NAD+, so you’re plugging the drain and filling up the pool at the same time when you have a good source of niacinamide.” – Ray Peat
- Protection against stored PUFAs (polyunsaturated fats); By raising NAD+, Niacinamide restrains the release of unstable, inflammatory PUFAs from storage in the body (often referred to as free fatty acids), preventing oxidative damage. PUFAs are powerfully anti-metabolic and directly implicated in obesity and diabetes and lead to premature ageing. Niacinamide protects against these.
- Niacinamide brings about the kinds of benefits associated with having a higher metabolic rate; everything from increased energy production and improved insulin sensitivity to prevention (and potentially treatment) of the degenerative diseases related to impaired energy production.
“Niacinamide, by lowering the free fatty acids and regulating the redox system, supporting sugar oxidation, is useful in the whole spectrum of metabolic degenerative diseases.” - Ray Peat
Just some of the growing body of research on the known benefits of Niacinamide:
Treats inflammatory skin conditions source
May lower blood pressure by raising NAD+ source
Regulates the redox system source
May treat Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) source
Prevents kidney disease - source
Reverses endotoxemia and heals leaky gut - source
Can substantially lower triglycerides - source
Lowers cortisol, while improving insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance - source
Has significant anti-obesity effects - source
May treat age-related steroid deficiency - source
Increases aerobic capacity and muscle endurance - source
Improves glucose metabolism and overall muscle health - source
May treat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) by improving energetic state - source
May treat depression by improving energetic state - source
Treats scleroderma – source
Can reverse reproductive decline in older females - source
Treats glaucoma - source
May help treat / reverse heart disease - source
Counteracts cachexia by restoring NAD+ levels - source
Prevents fatty liver and fibrosis - source
Treats Rosacea - source
As a precursor to NAD+, plays a significant role in enhancement of cell longevity - source
Dr. Ray Peat’s high regard for Niacinamide
Dr. Ray Peat spoke highly of Niacinamide for decades. Here are some of our favourite quotes of his in reference to its actions and uses:
“Niacinamide, used in moderate doses, can safely help to restrain the excessive production of free fatty acids, and also helps to limit the wasteful conversion of glucose into fat. There is evidence that diabetics are chronically deficient in niacin. Excess fatty acids in the blood probably divert tryptophan from niacin synthesis into serotonin synthesis.”
“The competition between fatty acids and glucose, which has been called the ‘Randle cycle’ for about 50 years, can be applied to the treatment of diabetes and other degenerative/stress problems by adjusting the diet, or by using supplements such as niacinamide and aspirin, which improve glucose oxidation by lowering the free fatty acids in the serum.”
“Niacinamide is a nutrient that inhibits the release of fatty acids, and it also activates phagocytic activity and lowers phosphate. It protects against the development of scars in the spinal cord injuries, facilitates recovery from traumatic brain injury, and accelerates healing generally. While it generally supports immunity, it’s protective against autoimmunity. It can cause tumour cells to either mature or disintegrate, but it prolongs the replicate life of cultured cells, and protects against excitotoxicity.
The amounts needed seem large if niacinamide is thought of as ‘vitamin B3’, but it should be considered as a factor that compensates for our unphysiological exposure to inappropriate fats. Aspirin and vitamin E are other natural substances that are therapeutic in “unnaturally” large amounts because of our continual exposure to the highly unsaturated plant-derived n-3 and n-6 fats.”
“Glucose and niacinamide work very closely with each other, and with thyroid hormone, in the maintenance and repair of cells and tissues. When one of these energy-producing factors is lacking, the changes in cell functions – a sort of pre-inflammatory state – activate corrective processes.”
“In the fetus, especially before the fats from the mother’s diet begin to accumulate, signals from injured tissue produce the changes that lead quickly to repair of the damage, but during subsequent life, similar signals produce incomplete repairs, and as they are ineffective they tend to be intensified and repeated, and eventually the faulty repair processes become the main problem. Although this is an ecological problem, it is possible to decrease the damage by avoiding the polyunsaturated fats and the many toxins that synergize with them, while increasing glucose, niacinamide, carbon dioxide, and other factors that support high energy metabolism, including adequate exposure to long wavelength light and avoidance of harmful radiation. As long as the protective factors are present, increased amounts of protective factors such as progesterone, thyroid, sugar, niacinamide, and carbon dioxide can be used therapeutically and preventatively.”
“Niacinamide, by reducing lipolysis, would be another anti-inflammatory agent that could help to interrupt the degenerative processes initiated by exposure to radiation.”
“The ‘treatment’ for intracellular fatigue consists of normalizing thyroid and steroid metabolism, and eating a diet including fruit juice, milk, some eggs, liver, and gelatin, assuring adequate calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium, and using supplements of niacinamide, aspirin, and carbon dioxide when necessary.”
“Niacinamide, progesterone, sugar, carbon dioxide, and red light protect against both free fatty acids and prostaglandins.”
“We normally make it (niacin) from protein, from the tryptophan amino acid, but if we’re deficient in protein or have a vitamin deficiency that blocks the conversion of tryptophan to niacin then we can’t keep the NAD supply adequate. A deficiency in a chronic state is Pellagra, shows up as a skin condition in an extreme stage, early signs include mood disturbances and various energy related symptoms”.
“The foods that nourish the patient well enough to support healing while permitting energy reserves to be built up are also the foods that don’t interfere with the hormones, that don’t cause spurious excitation of the tissues. The polyunsaturated fats directly stimulate the stress hormones, activate the excitatory amino acid signals, and directly excite cells, while the saturated fats have opposite effects, and are anti-inflammatory, and also don’t interfere with mitochondrial function. When we eat more carbohydrate than can be oxidized, some of it will be turned into saturated fats and omega-9 fats, and these will support mitochondrial energy production. Carbohydrates in the diet also help to decrease the mobilization of fatty acids from storage; niacinamide and aspirin support that effect.”
“Eliminating polyunsaturated fats from the diet is essential if the bystander effect is eventually to be restrained. Aspirin and salicylic acid can block many of the carcinogenic effects of the PUFA. Saturated fats have a variety of anti-inflammatory and anticancer actions. Some of those effects are direct, others are the result of blocking the toxic effects of the PUFA. Keeping the stored unsaturated fats from circulating in the blood is helpful, since it takes years to eliminate them from the tissues after the diet has changed. Niacinamide inhibits lipolysis. Avoiding overproduction of lipolytic adrenaline requires adequate thyroid hormone, and the adjustment of the diet to minimize fluctuations of blood sugar.”
“Niacinamide, like progesterone, inhibits the production of nitric oxide, and also like progesterone, it improves recovery from brain injury (Hoane, et al., 2008).”
“In some of the publications claiming that resveratrol increases lifespan, it was reported that niacinamide had the opposite effect, suppressing Sir2 (one of the sirtuins), the longevity gene, and shortening the organism’s lifespan. To put their claims into context, it’s helpful to look at a variety of experiments involving treatment with niacinamide.
It protects nerves, vascular cells, insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, and a variety of other types of cell from cell death produced by lack of oxygen, excitotoxicity, endotoxin, and a variety of stressors and toxins. (Niacinamide acts in many ways as a negation of resveratrol; for example, resveratrol interferes with the ability of the beta cells to secrete insulin [Szkudelski, 2007]).
Niacinamide protects mitochondrial respiration from many of the age-related factors that can damage mitochondria and decrease energy production. Lipopolysaccharide, the bacterial endotoxin, increases the production of the free radical nitric oxide, leading to the secretion of inflammatory mediators and the suppression of energy production by the mitochondria. These effects are blocked by niacinamide (Fukuzawa, et al., 1997).
The ‘replicative lifespan’ of human cells in vitro is extended by treatment with niacinamide (Kang, et al., 2006).
In an experiment with human keratinocytes in vitro, resveratrol had the opposite effect, reducing their ability to divide (Blander, et al., 2009). By the definitions of “aging” used by the advocates of the rate-of-living theory, this experiment suggests that resveratrol causes premature aging. Estrogen has a similar effect on keratinocytes. Resveratrol, nitric oxide, and estrogen, unlike niacinamide, suppress mitochondrial respiration. Resveratrol inhibits the formation of progesterone (Chen, et al., 2007), which is synthesized in mitochondria.”
“Suppressing fatty acid oxidation improves the contraction of the heart muscle and increases the efficiency of oxygen use (Chandler, et al., 2003). Various drugs are being considered for that purpose, but niacinamide is already being used to improve heart function, since it lowers the concentration of free fatty acids.”
“The features of the stress metabolism include increases of stress hormones, lactate, ammonia, free fatty acids, and fat synthesis, and a decrease in carbon dioxide. Factors that lower the stress hormones, increase carbon dioxide, and help to lower the circulating free fatty acids, lactate, and ammonia, include vitamin B1 (to increase CO2 and reduce lactate), niacinamide (to reduce free fatty acids), sugar (to reduce cortisol, adrenaline, and free fatty acids), salt (to lower adrenaline), thyroid hormone (to increase CO2). Vitamins D, K, B6 and biotin are also closely involved with carbon dioxide metabolism (Marshall, et al., 1976).”
“It’s the stored PUFA, released by stress or hunger, that slow metabolism. Niacinamide helps to lower free fatty acids, and good nutrition will allow the liver to slowly detoxify the PUFA, if it isn’t being flooded with large amounts of them.”
“Niacinamide, one of the B vitamins, provides energy to the mitochondrial system. Under stress and strong excitation, cells waste niacinamide-NADH, but niacinamide itself has a sedative anti-excitatory effect, and some of its actions resemble a hormone. Estrogen tends to interfere with the formation of niacin from tryptophan. Tryptophan, rather than forming the sedative niacin (pyridine carboxylic acid), can be directed toward formation of the excitatory quinolinic acid (pyridine dicarboxylic acid) by polyunsaturated fats. Excitation must be in balance with a cell’s energetic resources, and niacinamide can play multiple protective roles, decreasing excitation, increasing energy production, and stabilizing repair systems. The state of excitation and type of energy metabolism are crucial factors in governing cell functions and survival.”
“The normal pathway from tryptophan to niacin leads to formation of the coenzyme NAD, which is involved in a great variety of cellular processes, notably energy production, the maintenance of the cellular differentiated state by regulating gene expression, and the activity of phagocytes.
Glucose and niacinamide work very closely with each other, and with the thyroid hormone, in the maintenance and repair of cells and tissues. When one of these energy-producing factors is lacking, the changes in cell functions -- a sort of pre-inflammatory state -- activate corrective processes. Energy depletion itself is an excitatory state, that calls for increased fuel and oxygen. But when cells are exposed to PUFA, their ability to use glucose is blocked, increasing their exposure to the fats. Saturated fats activate the pyruvate dehydrogenase enzyme that is essential for the efficient use of glucose, while PUFA block it. (The MRL mouse strain has a high regenerative ability, associated with a retained tendency to metabolize glucose rather than fatty acids.) The negative energetic effects of PUFA include interfering with thyroid and progesterone. The energy resources are suppressed, at the same time that the inflammatory signals are amplified, and many regulatory pathways (including the replenishment of NAD from tryptophan) are diverted.”
Niacin occurs in small amounts mainly in animal proteins, namely liver, eggs and meat.
Niacin can be generated from the amino acid Tryptophan, however nutrient deficiencies (especially protein deficiency) and factors like excess estrogen can block this conversion, and excess polyunsaturated fatty acids can divert conversion to serotonin instead.
Niacin can potentially be converted to the active form niacinamide by intestinal bacteria, if conditions in the gut are optimal.
No supplement is a magic bullet! Other ways to not only boost NAD+ but also support the NAD+ salvage pathway (more on this below):
- Physical exercise: Naturally increases NAMPT and AMPK, the enzymes which synthesize NAD+. Concentric strength training is the most effective form to boost these enzymes.
- Supporting circadian rhythm: Going to bed earlier and getting up closer to sunrise. Avoidance of blue light after sunset.
- Regular use of near infrared saunas: Gentle heat stress can boost NAD+. Note: near infrared is preferable to far infrared. - source
- Avoidance of the things listed earlier that accelerate NAD decline.
Note about other NAD precursors
We don’t recommend supplemental niacin. The flushing effect it has is not good; it’s liberating histamine and serotonin, which over time can cause inflammation. - source
Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) and Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN) – *banned in The US.
In a conversation with Georgi Dinkov, 16/8/23, he explained:
“Comparative studies between NR, niacin, niacinamide and I think also NMN and it shows statistically identical elevations in NAD+ across all of them. In addition, oral NMN rapidly degrades into the stomach into niacinamide, D-ribose (a type of sugar derived from glucose) and phosphate. Since there is plenty of d-ribose and phosphate floating in the blood anyways, taking oral NMN is metabolically equivalent to taking niacinamide and does not offer a shortcut to NAD+ synthesis as the claims go, and nicotinamide riboside is in the same boat. So, the metabolic mechanics of NMN, NR and niacinamide are essentially the same when used orally and there is no reason to pay the premium price for NMN.”
And Dr. Joseph Mercola adds:
“The immediate breakdown product of NAD+ is niacinamide and the enzyme NAMPT is the rate limiting enzyme in the NAD+ salvage pathway to restore niacinamide back to NAD+. Niacinamide is first converted to NMN before NAD+.
However, the enzyme NMNAT1-3 that converts NMN to NAD+ is not the rate limiting enzyme. Recall that NAMPT is what controls how much NAD+ you make. So, flooding your body with NMN is not going to be as useful as using small amounts of niacinamide and activating NAMPT. Ideal dosing of niacinamide is from 25 to 50 mg three times a day. It is the rare person who will not respond favourably to this simple intervention for increasing NAD+.” source
What to look for in a Niacinamide supplement
It’s important that it’s high quality, pharmaceutical grade.
It should be in the form of a pure powder with nothing else added; no fillers, anti-caking agents or other additives of any kind.
It’s important that it’s in powder form for two reasons:
1) because capsules and pills also require additional ingredients that can dilute or compromise the benefits.
2) because you need to be able to dose it in such small amounts, and tailor the dosage to your individual needs: you can’t do that with a one-size-fits-all capsule.
How to take it and dosing suggestions
Niacinamide powder dissolves easily in liquid. Add to your fruit juice or any beverage. It’s important to have it along with carbohydrates and/or a full meal. Probably better not to take at night: it might generate too much alertness, discouraging restful sleep.
Saturée Niacinamide comes with a tiny measuring scoop: one flat scoop of powder equates to around 100mg of Niacinamide.
Ray Peat always recommended “50-100mg up to three times a day”.
So you could do half to one scoop, 3 times daily.
If you want to go by ratio to your size, Dr Mercola recommends:
2.5 mg/kg or 1.13 mg/pound of body weight in three divided daily doses. If you are a 150 pound (68kg) person this would be about 50 to 60 mg three times a day.
“Much higher doses of niacinamide have other beneficial effects but strictly for serving as an NAD+ precursor I think the lower doses may be better.” – Georgi Dinkov
Higher doses might block the NAMPT enzyme which synthesizes NAD. – source
When used appropriately, in combination with a nutritious diet and sensible lifestyle habits for best results, Niacinamide is a supplement that can be used daily, however we recommend consulting with your healthcare professional before taking niacinamide supplementally.
Potential side effects
Niacinamide is safe at suggested serving sizes. Do not take oral niacinamide if you are currently taking anticonvulsant drugs, such as carbamazepine or primidone. Excessive doses of vitamin B3 may cause liver damage, peptic ulcers, and skin rashes.
Other resources and further reading
And this interview for all things pro-metabolic, and mention of importance of Niacinamide.
More studies here
*Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.