A new study has found that decreased levels of nicotinamide, a form of the B vitamin niacin, during pregnancy may increase the risk of atopic eczema at 12 months of age.

A University of Southampton study, published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy, found that women with ‘higher concentrations of nicotinamide and related metabolites in late pregnancy bore children with decreased risk of atopic eczema.

The study findings continue to support a forming theory of the originations of skin conditions. Researchers believe that eczema may be partially dependent upon the mother’s health, while infants are still in utero. According to Dr Sarah El-Heis, the lead researcher of the study, “The findings point to potentially modifiable influences on this common and distressing condition.”1

For the study, researchers measured maternal serum levels of kynurenine, kynurenic acid, anthranilic acid, tryptophan, nicotinamide and N1-methylnicotinamide in 497 women in the late months of pregnancy.

Interestingly, mother’s pregnancy nutrient levels were not linked with eczema development by six months of age, but were associable by the time the children reached 12 months.

Vitamin B3, niacin, is important for cellular energy production. It is a component of coenzyme NAD and is both a prevention and cure for black tongue and pellagra.2 Humans cannot manufacture B3, so we must supplement it through diet. Dairy, lean meats, nutritional yeast, and fortified cereals are a good sources of nicotinamide.

Yeasts have 400% more nicotinamide than mushrooms, next on the list for “good” sources. You can ingest too much niacin, and have a “niacin flush”, itching, nausea and vomiting as a result. This is rare when getting your niacin through food, but has been observed at doses as low as 750mg per day.3

1S. El-Heis, S. R. Crozier, S. M. Robinson, N. C. Harvey, C. Cooper, H. M. Inskip, Southampton Women’s Survey Study Group and K. M. Godfrey. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2016 (46) 1337–1343.
2National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=936, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/936 (accessed Jan. 26, 2017)
3http://www.lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/niacin

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