A few days ago, one of my staff came to me in a bit of a panic… She’d taken a vitamin B3 supplement and was experiencing an extreme case of “niacin flush.”
I assured her that she’d be okay and advised her on how to avoid getting the flush moving forward.
Then we started talking about all the life-changing benefits of this important nutrient.
I’ve been prescribing niacin to my patients for decades. It’s an amazing heart health nutrient.
It could even put the billion-dollar statin industry out of business – if more doctors knew to prescribe it.
Unfortunately, most doctors have no idea of the power of vitamins. But I’ve tested niacin myself on thousands of patients. Their heart health results were great.
But I was struck by how many patients saw another benefit they never expected. They looked years younger.
You see, niacin rejuvenated their skin.
Vitamin B3 is active in more than 50 metabolic functions in your body. You may also see it called niacin, niacinamide, or nicotinic acid. It helps break down carbohydrates to produce energy.
It aids digestion and helps eliminate toxins. It acts as a powerful antioxidant. It assists in producing sex hormones. And niacin is vital to energizing and maintaining healthy cells of all kinds.
But what my patients immediately notice is how all of niacin’s wonderful benefits result in more beautiful skin. Here’s how it works.
As you get older, your skin dries out. The epidermis and dermis layers become thinner. That leads to wrinkles. At the same time, too much radiation from the sun causes oxidative damage that leaves you with age spots.
But niacin helps promote the turnover of new skin cells. It repairs sun damage and strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier. All of that adds up to younger-looking skin.
When I saw what niacin was doing for my patients who take it for their hearts, I began to research what niacin could do if you put it directly on your skin. And I found that topical niacin is extremely effective in reversing signs of aging in the skin.
One way niacin works is by increasing blood flow. It dilates the capillaries allowing more oxygen and other nutrients to flow to your skin.
It also stimulates DNA repair. That helps generate new, healthier skin cells. By replacing old skin faster, niacin helps your skin look and feel younger. It erases dark spots, one of the most visible signs of aging. One study shows that in just four weeks, niacinamide can significantly decrease age spots and increase skin lightness.1
And niacin helps boost hydration. It increases the production of ceramides. Those are skin lipids that retain water and prevent the loss of moisture. A study from Wake Forest University showed that a moisturizer containing niacinamide improves the skin’s moisture barrier to increase hydration. It relieved dry skin and even rosacea.2
Niacin also cools inflamed skin. A study in the International Journal of Dermatology found that a gel containing niacinamide reduced inflammatory acne for 82% of patients.3
Overall, topical niacin gives your skin a younger, more vibrant look. In one study, 50 women aged 40 to 60 used a moisturizer with niacinamide for 12 weeks. It significantly improved fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, texture, and red blotchiness. It also improved skin yellowing (sallowness).4
Feed Your Skin What It Needs To Be Ageless
You can boost your niacin levels with food. The best sources are grass-fed beef and organ meats, pastured eggs, chicken and turkey, and wild-caught salmon and tuna.
Other good sources include peanuts, beets, leafy greens, nuts, and beans.
Most doctors say women only need 14 mg per day of niacin. That’s nowhere near enough to get the heart benefits…or the anti-aging skin benefits. For that, you’ll have to supplement. Just don’t rush in too fast.
- When you start taking niacin supplements, you may get the same “niacin flush” that my employee did. It feels like a burning and prickly sensation over your face, neck, and chest. It’s harmless and doesn’t last too long.
- The reaction wears off as you continue to use niacin, so be patient. It may take a few weeks, but eventually, you’ll build up a tolerance.
- I recommend starting at a small dose of 250 mg per day. At first, take it every other day and slowly work up. Increase the amount gradually every month until you get up to your target. I recommend getting 750 to 1,000 mg a day. You can also split your dose into twice a day to help reduce the flush.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Hakozaki T, et al. “The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer.” Br J Dermatol. 2002;147(1):20-31.
2. Draelos ZD, Ertel K, Berge C. “Niacinamide-containing facial moisturizer improves skin barrier and benefits subjects with rosacea.” Cutis. 2005;76(2):135-41.
3. Shalita AR, et al. “Topical nicotinamide compared with clindamycin gel in the treatment of inflammatory acne vulgaris. Int J Dermatol. 34(6):434-7.
4. Bissett D, et al. “Topical niacinamide reduces yellowing, wrinkling, red blotchiness, and hyperpigmented spots in aging facial skin.” Int J Cosmetic Sci. 2005;26(5):231–238.