Niacin also known as nicotinic acid is an organic compound and it is one of the essential human nutrients. Niacin deficiency can result to pellagra. It is also used for reducing cardiovascular issues. A chemist called Hugo Weidel first described niacin in 1873 in his studies of nicotine in the oxidation of nicotine using nitric acid. The name niacin was derived from nicotinic acid + vitamin.
Niacinamide is also known as nicotinamide or nicotinic acid amide. It is the amide of niacin. Niacianamide is part of B-vitamin and it is water soluble. Niacinamide is derived from niacin. These two are components of B3-vitamin and they are often used as supplements interchangeably. However, there are some critical differences between these two vitamin B3 components. Niacinamide is derived from niacin and the body is able to convert niacin into niacinamide.
Niacinamide can also be made by our body from an amino acid known as trytophan which is usually present in animal foods. A chemical compound known as an amide is what makes niacinamide. Amide is defined by a nitrogen atom which is combined with a carbonyl group or C=O. Therefore, the main distinction between these two components is that niacinamide is a derivative of niacin.
Although the two are used interchangeably, they have different pharmacological properties. Their physical effects on the body also differ and people who are sensitive to their effects may prefer to use one over the other. Their usefulness in treating different conditions for instance high cholesterol, circulatory problem and osteoarthritis can also differ. Because of the pharmacological properties difference in niacin and niacinamide, different people can have different physical reactions when they take one as opposed to the other.
High niacin doses can cause flushing a condition that causes blood vessels to widen. This makes the capillaries under the skin to expand to allow more blood to flow making the skin to become red and itchy. Niacinamide does not have the effect of skin flushing and that is why it is preferred over niacin in the treatment of pellagra, a condition that results due to lack of vitamin B3. The only affect that niacinamide may cause is excessive sweating.