Vitamin B3 is an essential vitamin and cofactor for metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and alcohol. It’s primary role in the body is to aid in a multitude of ongoing metabolic processes and to generate energy in the form of ATP. Vitamin B3 is a precursor to coenzymes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP), which are involved in cell signaling and DNA repair .
Vitamin B3 and Brain Function
Vitamin B3 increases energy output in the brain by increasing the production of ATP. Regarding brain health, the vitamin serves as a cofactor for a multitude of beneficial processes, it increases cerebral circulation and cellular energy, and may have neuroprotective benefits .
Niacinamide as a precursor to NAD and NADH repairs brain cells and protects against DNA damage. It also acts as an antioxidant to help reduce oxidative damage from free radicals .
Additionally, niacinamide plays a role in healthy neurotransmitter function and synthesis, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin .
Effects On Focus, Memory, and Concentration
One of the main underlying mechanisms of niacinamide is its ability to increase cellular energy and cerebral blood flow . Once converted to NAD, the molecule donates its electrons to the electron transport chain which lend themselves to the production of ATP molecules -- the primary energy currency of the brain .
As a substrate for ATP production, niacinamide indirectly plays a role in cognition, focus, concentration, memory, and processing speed. Additionally, adequate levels of niacinamide may play help improve brain health and combat neurodegeneration .
Niacinamide has been shown to increase Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). Higher levels of BDNF are associated with increased intelligence, mood, productivity, and memory .
Effects On Longevity
Niacinamide may influence the expression of genes involved in the aging process [3, 2].
No side effects reported in doses up to, and potentially exceeding, 2 grams per day. However, cases of hepatotoxicity and hospitalization have been reported with > 2 grams sustained release niacin taken daily over the course of several weeks.