Also known as niacin, Vitamin B3 is one of eight B vitamins. While B3 influences many bodily processes, it’s especially well known for the impact it can have on hair.
Vitamin B3 benefits for hair include promoting hair growth, soothing scalp inflammation, and improving the health of your hair. Since B3 deficiency can cause hair loss, taking B3 can also treat thinning hair. B3 can benefit hair when it’s taken orally or when it’s applied topically.
What Is Niacin (vitamin B3)?
Vitamin B3 is one of eight B-complex vitamins. It’s an essential nutrient, which means the body doesn’t produce it on its own.
This vitamin is naturally found in many foods, but can also be taken as a supplement. There are two forms of Vitamin B3: nicotinic acid and niacinamide.
The body uses vitamin B3 in a number of ways. It has antioxidant properties, can convert nutrients into energy, and plays an important role in skin and hair health.
When your body isn’t getting the B3 that it needs, it could cause hair to thin or shed. (1)
8 Benefits Of Vitamin B3 For Hair
While niacin offers a wide range of benefits, it’s especially well known for the effect it can have on hair.
These are some of the many benefits you can expect to see if you start taking Vitamin B3:
1. It Can Soothe Your Scalp
If your scalp is dry or is frequently irritated, niacin could provide you with some much-needed relief.
Vitamin B3 can help to boost skin proteins along the scalp’s lipid barrier, which can treat dryness. It can also act as an anti-inflammatory, soothing an inflamed scalp.
While you’ll see faster results if you use topical niacin products, Vitamin B3 can improve the health of the hair follicles on your scalp even when it’s taken orally.
It’s an excellent way to relieve scalp irritation and treat issues like dryness and itching. Taking Vitamin B3 can also reduce the risk of clogged hair follicles.
2. It Stimulates Hair Growth
One of the benefits that niacin is best known for is its ability to speed up hair growth.
Vitamin B3 naturally stimulates hair growth, helping hair to grow in more quickly. On top of that, it can boost hair thickness by more than 200%. (2)
Normally, hair grows about 1/2 per month. Taking niacin is a way to speed up this process. In fact, taking Vitamin B3 can be a way to keep your hair full and healthy even as you age.
3. It Hydrates Hair
If you feel like your hair is consistently lacking in moisture, even when you use conditioning products, it’s likely that there’s an issue with your scalp’s moisture balance.
Taking Vitamin B3 can help to restore that balance.
When you take niacin, it encourages your body to increase the production of ceramides. This can help your hair to lock in moisture, preventing dryness.
Many hair products that include niacin contain other hydrating ingredients as well, like marine extracts and Shea butter.
4. It Protects Hair From Damage
Taking a supplement like Vitamin B3 can help to restore damaged hair, but it can also be a way to prevent future damage.
When you’re out in the sun, your scalp is exposed to UV rays. These rays have the potential to be damaging to both your scalp and your hair.
Vitamin B3 promotes healthy cell turnover, which means niacin can improve your body’s ability to heal from any damage caused by the sun.
In addition, because it’s an antioxidant, it can help your hair to fight back against oxidative stress caused by environmental pollutants.
5. It Can Treat Dandruff
Dandruff is an embarrassing condition that can also be difficult to treat. If you’ve struggled with skin flakes on your scalp, Vitamin B3 could provide you with a lasting solution to your problems.
Since taking niacin can improve the moisture balance on your scalp, you can decrease the chances of dandruff forming in the first place.
Beyond that, it can reduce inflammation, which has been linked to dandruff. If dandruff is a chronic problem for you, you’ll need to address the root cause of the problem to get real relief.
Taking niacin can hydrate and soothe your scalp, preventing dandruff and other issues.
6. It Can Keep Hair from Becoming Overly Oily
While Vitamin B3 can help to prevent your hair from becoming too dry, it can also help you avoid oily hair.
When niacin is applied topically, it can have an impact on sebum production rates. (3)
If your scalp is producing too much sebum, Vitamin B3 could help to bring the sebum levels on your scalp back to normal.
When your hair is producing too much oil, it can cause the sebaceous glands on your scalp to become clogged, which can cause irritation.
Using niacin on your scalp can help your body properly regulate the production of oil, providing your hair with ample moisture while preventing your hair from becoming oily too quickly.
7. It Can Make Hair Shinier and Smoother
Niacin helps your body to synthesize keratin, the protein that hair shafts are made of. (4)
When your body is able to make more keratin, it can dramatically improve the appearance of your hair. It can add shine, fight frizz, and can even reduce split ends.
Once you start using Vitamin B3, you may notice that your hair is much more manageable. It can treat many common hair problems and can give your hair a beautiful glossy sheen.
It can be a way to restore hair that’s limp and lifeless.
8. It Can Give You Healthier, Better-Looking Hair
Not only can Vitamin B3 make your hair look better, but it can improve hair health from the inside out.
This nutrient improves your body’s ability to repair DNA, giving your hair the chance to recover from the damage it’s sustained over time.
It can strengthen hair strands while encouraging new hair follicles to grow.
Hair products can have a major impact on hair health, but your diet is a major factor as well.
If your diet is lacking in important nutrients like Vitamin B3, your hair won’t be as healthy as it should be.
If you correct that problem, you’ll see a change in your hair and your overall well-being.
How To Add Niacin To Your Regular Hair Care Routine
If you want to enjoy the many benefits of niacin, there are a number of ways to include it in your hair care routine.
There are three main ways to give your hair a boost of B3: changing your diet, taking a supplement, or using topical niacin treatments.
Foods That Are Rich In Vitamin B3
The most effective way for your body to absorb micronutrients is food, which is why eating foods that are high in niacin is an excellent way to improve the health of your hair.
Foods that are high in Vitamin B3 include:
- Lean proteins
- Brown rice
In addition to these foods, there are a number of foods that are fortified with additional nutrients like niacin.
Cereals and other refined grain products, like oatmeal, are most likely to be fortified.
If you’re trying to boost your intake of niacin, you should assess your diet and see how much B3 you’re getting in a typical day.
From there, you can look for ways to add more niacin to your diet. Ideally, you should be eating at least one serving of niacin-rich food each day.
Taking a Niacin Supplement
It can be difficult to get the B3 that your body needs from food sources alone, especially if you have dietary restrictions.
If you don’t think your diet contains enough niacin, you should add a supplement to your diet as well.
To help your body absorb the niacin, you should take your supplement right before or after eating.
Make sure you take the supplement as directed. Follow the dosage recommendations that are recommended on the label.
Using Hair Products That Contain Vitamin B3
In addition to taking niacin orally, it can be applied directly to the hair. Studies have found that the topical application of niacin derivatives can increase hair fullness. (5)
Niacin is a key ingredient in many hair products, including shampoos, conditioners, and hair serums.
Niacinamide, which is a water-soluble form of Vitamin B3, is also found in many products.
When you’re applying B3 topically, it’s often recommended to look for products that contain niacinamide rather than niacin.
In addition to looking for over-the-counter hair products that contain Vitamin B3, you can make your own hair masks with household ingredients.
Many hair masks are easy to make and can be a quick and effective way to provide your hair with some much-needed nourishment.
A simple hair mask made from avocado, honey, and olive oil can infuse your hair with niacin and provide extra moisture.
Peanut butter is also a popular ingredient in homemade hair masks. If you do use peanut butter on your hair, make sure that you choose a product that contains as few ingredients as possible.
How Much Vitamin B3 Should You Take?
The recommended dosage of vitamin B3 for adult men is 16 mg a day.
Women are recommended to take 14 mg a day unless they are pregnant, in which case the recommended dosage is 18 mg a day.
If you suspect that you’re not getting the niacin you need from your diet, a daily supplement is one of the most effective ways to give your body the B3 that it needs.
You shouldn’t go beyond the recommended dosage of this supplement unless it’s recommended by your doctor.
Are There Side Effects To Using Niacin?
While you can experience negative side effects when taking niacin, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience these side effects when it’s taken at the appropriate dosage.
However, high doses of niacin can cause many side effects, including:
- Abdominal pain
- Flushed skin
- Skin irritation
You’re most likely to experience these side effects if you’re taking a dosage of more than 2,000 mg per day.
Unless your doctor has prescribed you a higher dose of vitamin B3, it’s best to stay within recommended doses when taking a supplement.
Frequently asked questions
Can Niacin Cause Hair Loss?
Taking too much niacin can cause a number of adverse symptoms, including hair loss. However, when taken at an appropriate dosage, niacin can actually keep you from losing hair.
Can Niacin Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?
Niacin deficiency has been directly linked to conditions that cause hair loss, such as alopecia. To maintain healthy hair, you should make sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs.
Does Niacin Help With Hair Growth?
Since B3 boosts blood flow to the scalp, it can encourage hair growth. Taking niacin can also promote thicker hair.
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Dee has been following the Curly Girl Method for over four years and is our in-house Curly Girl expert. She has a keen interest in natural haircare and has tried and tested her share of CGM products. She has a photographic memory of most sulfate and silicone-free hair products available on the high street and she’s always happy to recommend you her favorites.