When it comes to vitamins and minerals that are great for skin health, you’ve probably heard a lot about things like vitamin C and collagen in recent years. But now, vitamin B3 is quickly gaining traction as an important compound that’s transformative for skin health — and it also has some cholesterol-fighting properties, too.
What is vitamin B3?
Vitamin B3, which is also called niacin, is one of eight B vitamins, and it helps convert food into energy. It’s water-soluble, meaning that the body doesn’t store it up over time, so you have to get it through your diet every day.
Vitamin B3 has two major components that really shows how it works overtime for both skin and heart health. First, niacinamide or nicotinamide, which research shows could treat psoriasis, protect the skin from signs of aging, and reduce the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer. Second, it has nicotinic acid, which may lower both your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease.
If you’re looking to get niacin from more than just your diet, you can take oral supplements (Buy on Amazon, $8.61), or if you specifically want its skin-healing properties, there are lots of serums like Naturium Niacinamide Serum (Buy on Amazon, $15.99) that you use daily.
What are the benefits?
Niacin has also gotten a reputation in the beauty community as being a great way to protect skin from sun damage over time and reverse signs of aging. It also may protect the body from certain non-melanoma skin cancers as well. You can apply vitamin B3 topically or take it orally to see these results.
Research has also shown that niacin can increase “good” cholesterol while helping you shed the “bad” cholesterol in your body, which then lessens the risk of conditions like heart disease.
Additionally, studies reveal that vitamin B3 can boost your cognitive function and may even keep your brain healthy even when there are signs of Alzheimer’s, though more research needs to be done to identify a more definitive link between the two.
Are there any side effects?
Getting a dose of niacin through a daily multivitamin or even most supplemental capsules won’t cause any significant side effects.
For those who are on a prescription, which contains around 2,000 to 6,000 milligrams of niacin and is often used to fix a niacinamide deficiency, there can be side effects like skin flushing, nausea, abdominal pain, and rapid heartbeat due to the high dosage. It’s also recommended that people who are on diabetes medication and blood pressure drugs not take these doses.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, so as you would with any supplement, make sure you talk to your doctor before you start taking additional vitamin B3.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.