Niacinamide is also called Vitamin- B3 and is one of the group of vitamins under the heading of B-complex. Niacinamide is formed by combining niacin and an amide molecule. Both niacin and niacinamide have different chemical properties and hence different effects on the human body. Niacin has reported effects in reducing blood cholesterol levels while niacinamide has various effects attributed to vitamin B3. Vitamin B3 has positive effects in improving the health of the gastrointestinal tract, skin and the nervous system. It also helps in dilating blood vessels and prevents ringing sensation in the ears (also called tinnitus). It prevents dizziness in patients who have this disorder. Vitamin B3 also prevents a condition called pellagra caused by deficiency of niacinamide. In women, vitamin B3 also helps prevent premenstrual headaches.
What is the mechanism of action of vitamin B3?
Niacinamide acts by helping in the release of energy from foods. It also assists in the biological synthesis of DNA which is essential in the formation of chromosomes, an essential component of the nucleus of the cells. Among the other effects of vitamin B3 are its beneficial role in the treatment of mental depression and the prevention of coronary artery disease. It is also reported to help in the treatment of schizophrenia, a dangerous mental illness. It has shown positive effects in prevention and treatment of headaches, notably those caused by migraine. Migraine is caused to a large measure by spasm of blood vessels within the head. By its vasodilatory effects, Vitamin B3 has some effect in relieving the condition. Niacinamide also helps lessen the effects of toxins in diet and in air. Some report it benefits those affected by leprosy.
What are the effects of deficiency of vitamin B3?
Among the well documented effects of deficiency of B3 are fatigue and muscle weakness. There is also a tendency for loss of appetite and dizziness. Other symptoms include swollen red tongue and dry scaly skin. Changes in the skin include formation of coarse texture and these effects are more pronounced in skin exposed to the sunlight. There are also complaints of nausea and vomiting in such patients. The symptom complex or disease resulting from chronic or long term deficiency of vitamin B3 is called pellagra. This is characterized by 3 Ds –diarrhea, dementia and dermatitis. The dermatitis is characterized by inflammation and cracking with dry scaling of the skin described above. The notable feature of the skin condition is the sensitivity to sunlight. Among the mental changes is a tendency for aggression in patients of pellagra. Other mental changes include confusion and insomnia or sleeplessness. Notably, another important effect is on the heart resulting in a disease called dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition affecting the heart muscles. In its ultimate stage thus pellagra can even be fatal if left untreated, given the wide variety of effects vitamin B3 has on the human body. Other disturbances caused by vitamin B3 deficiency are psycho motor and psycho sensory disturbances due to its effects on the nervous system.