Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on
July 30, 2021
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on:

What is Niacinamide?

Niacinamide is a form of niacin, or Vitamin B3,1,2 one of the eight B vitamins that are important for your body.1 You should not confuse niacinamide with niacin.2

Vitamin B3 plays an important role in your body’s metabolism,3 energy,1 and chemical reactions.1 It is water-soluble, meaning your body does not store it;1,3 any extra amount is excreted through your urine.3

Therefore, you must obtain niacinamide through your diet1,3 or by taking niacinamide supplements. 

This article will discuss what niacinamide is, foods that contain niacinamide, types of niacinamide supplements, benefits of niacinamide, and the role niacinamide may have in treating symptoms of ADHD.

Foods that Contain Niacinamide

Niacinamide is found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, green vegetables, and beans.1,2,3 Many refined grains such as cereals are fortified with niacinamide.1  

Deficiency of Vitamin B3

Your body can produce vitamin B3 from an amino acid, called tryptophan, that is found in many protein-rich foods.1 However, the amount of vitamin B3 made from tryptophan is not enough1 to obtain optimal amounts. 

In the past, vitamin B3 was known as “vitamin PP, an acronym for prellagra-preventative.”1 It was called vitamin PP because a vitamin B3 or tryptophan deficiency leads to a condition known as pellagra.1 Pellagra is attributed to the four Ds — diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia and, if not treated, death.1,4

Pellagra is rare in more developed countries but is still prevalent in some developing countries.1,5 Both forms of vitamin B3, nicotinic acid and niacinamide, can treat pellagra.1 However, niacinamide is the preferred form because it has fewer side effects.1

Niacinamide Supplements

Niacinamide can be found as a single oral supplement at most local grocery stores, pharmacies, and online. It can also be found in vitamin B complex supplements that contain other B vitamins.2

You should not confuse niacinamide with niacin.2 Before you or your child take any niacinamide supplements, consult with your doctor or your child’s doctor to make sure it’s the best option for you or your child. 

Potential Benefits and Uses of Niacinamide

Besides being the preferred form of vitamin B3 for treating pellagra, niacinamide has many other health benefits and uses as well.

May Improve Certain Skin Conditions

Niacinamide is important for the health of your skin, making it a popular ingredient in many cosmetics and other skincare products.

May Improve Chronic Kidney Disease

The loss of kidney function makes it more difficult for your body to filter blood1 and waste, which can lead to a buildup of potentially dangerous chemicals, like phosphate, in your blood.1

A 2008 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology “demonstrate[d] that niacinamide is effective in controlling serum phosphorus when co-administered with phosphorus binders in patients on hemodialysis.”6 

May Slow the Progression of Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces very little to no insulin. A 1996 meta-analysis7 suggests that niacinamide, in addition to insulin, preserves the function of the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas, delaying the onset of type 1 diabetes in at-risk patients.1,7

Although this seems promising, more research is needed before niacinamide supplements can be recommended as a treatment for type 1 diabetes.1

Niacinamide and ADHD

Niacinamide therapy pioneer, William Kaufman, MD, Ph.D, observed the effectiveness of niacinamide on hyperactivity and mental focus.8

More than 60 years ago, he said that “the benefit [of niacinamide] is so profound that a person receiving niacinamide treatment may wonder whether or not his vitamin medications contain a sedative.”8 

“Dr. Kaufman advocated relatively modest quantities of niacinamide…but stressed the importance of the frequency…of those doses.”8 The optimal amount of niacinamide that a child with ADHD needs should be considered by parent and physician alike.8

Although there is some research suggesting the different  potential benefits and uses of niacinamide, there is not a lot of research on the use of niacinamide in ADHD.

Although some studies in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine suggest that doses of single B vitamins such as niacinamide “can ameliorate hyperactivity in vitamin-dependent children and youth,”9 they were “methodologically flawed…[and] cannot be used to endorse or dismiss the vitamin approach for the treatment of hyperactivity.”9

The Bottom Line

Although some research and studies suggest that niacinamide is beneficial and useful in certain health conditions, there are not a lot of studies about the use of niacinamide in treating the symptoms of ADHD. More studies and clinical trials are needed to determine whether or not niacinamide is an effective supplement for treating symptoms of ADHD.

And remember, consult with your doctor or your child’s doctor before you or your child take any supplements to determine what is the safest and best option.

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