What is the Difference Between Niacin and Nicotinamide

November 14, 2021 Posted by Madhu

The key difference between niacin and nicotinamide is that niacin is mainly used in treating high cholesterol whereas nicotinamide is used for treating arthritis and pellagra. 

Niacin and nicotinamide are two forms and derivatives of vitamin B3. Nicotinamide is the amide derivative of niacin. 

CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Niacin  
3. What is Nicotinamide
4. Niacin vs Nicotinamide in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Niacin vs Nicotinamide

What is Niacin?

Niacin is an organic compound having the chemical formula C6H5NO2. This substance appears as white and translucent crystals. It is also known as nicotinic acid. Niacin is a form of vitamin B3 and it is also an essential human nutrient. We usually get this compound from food, including both whole and processed food. The food items that give us niacin includes fortified packaged food, meat, poultry, redfish (e.g. tuna, salmon), nuts, legumes and seeds. 

Figure 01: The Chemical Structure of Niacin

As a dietary supplement, niacin is useful in treating pellagra, which is a disease that comes from the deficiency of niacin. The symptoms of niacin deficiency include lesions on the skin and mouth, anemia, headache, tiredness, etc. 

Nicotinamide is the amide derivative of niacin. Therefore, we can use nicotinamide as a treatment for niacin deficiency. This is because nicotinamide can be administered in remedial amounts by not causing any flushing. 

Niacin can be described as a water-soluble solid that is a derivative of pyridine. It has a carboxyl group at the carbon-3 position. In the amide derivative nicotinamide, this carboxyl group is replaced by a carboxamide group. 

What is Nicotinamide?   

Nicotinamide is an organic compound having the functional group –C(=O)NH2. It is an amide. Nicotinamide is a form of vitamin B3, and we can find this compound in food sources. E.g. we can find this substance in yeast, meat, milk, and green vegetables. It is useful as a medication; we can use this substance through the mouth to prevent and treat pellagra. Nicotinic acid or niacin can also be used as a substitute for this process, but unlike nicotinic acid, nicotinamide does not cause skin flushing. In its cream form, we can use this substance to treat acne. However, nicotinamide is an amide of nicotinic acid.

As a medication, nicotinamide has minimal side effects. However, when there is a high dose of this substance inside our body, it can cause liver problems. Moreover, according to research studies, normal doses are safe for use during pregnancy.

Figure 02: The Chemical Structure of Nicotinamide

In the chemical structure of nicotinamide, there is a pyridine ring to which a primary amide group is attached in the meta position. We can categorize nicotinamide as an amide of nicotinic acid. It is an aromatic compound. Moreover, this compound can undergo electrophilic substitution reactions and transformations of its two functional groups.

What is the Difference Between Niacin and Nicotinamide?

Niacin is an organic compound having the chemical formula C6H5NO2. Nicotinamide is an amide chemical compound having the functional group –C(=O)NH2. The key difference between niacin and nicotinamide is that niacin is mainly useful in treating high cholesterol whereas nicotinamide is useful for treating arthritis and pellagra. 

TThe below infographic presents the differences between niacin and nicotinamide in tabular form for side by side comparison.

 

 

Summary – Niacin vs Nicotinamide

Niacin and nicotinamide are two forms and derivatives of vitamin B3 while Nicotinamide is the amide derivative of niacin. The key difference between niacin and nicotinamide is that niacin is mainly useful in treating high cholesterol whereas nicotinamide is useful for treating arthritis and pellagra. 

Reference:

1. “Nicotinamide.” Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. 

Image Courtesy:

1. “Niacin_structure” By User:Mysid – Self-made in bkchem; edited in vim. (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Nicotinamid” By NEUROtiker – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Madhu

Madhu is a graduate in Biological Sciences with BSc (Honors) Degree and currently persuing a Masters Degree in Industrial and Environmental Chemistry. With a mind rooted firmly to basic principals of chemistry and passion for ever evolving field of industrial chemistry, she is keenly interested to be a true companion for those who seek knowledge in the subject of chemistry.

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