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B Vitamin Hype: With Ambitions of Fighting Acne, Rosacea and Tumors, What Can This Vitamin Really Do


Vitamin B is no small time player in the high stakes game of the beauty. Just take the case of pellagra for example. Pellagra is a life threatening skin disease characterized by dementia, diarrhea, and dermatitis that results from a niacin (B vitamin) deficiency. In the early 20th century in the United States pellagra plagued thousands of people in the South and Midwest. The condition was thought to be contagious until investigators discovered the underlying nutritional deficiency.

Even today, the importance of vitamin B is cultivating new roles in the world of beauty. Dermatologist Leslie Baumann, MD forecasts topical vitamin B and its multiple derivatives as key ingredients in future anti-aging products. For example, one derivative of the B vitamin niacin, nicotinamide, has been shown to improve the ability of the epidermis, the upper-most layer of the skin, to retain moisture. One study reports that topical nicotinamide, when applied to the skin for six days reveals softer, smoother skin with less dryness and flakiness, and a reduction of fine lines. Even more promising is its anti-cancer influences. For instance, when applied to mouse skin, topical nicotinamide produced a 70 percent decrease in ultraviolet-induced skin cancer.

Niacinamide, another byproduct of vitamin B, serves as an effective skin-lightening agent. In one clinical investigation, patients with hyperpigmentation applied a moisturizer containing five percent niacinamide. Four weeks later, computer analysis of the hyperpigmentation and skin color revealed a decrease in hyperpigmentation along with an increase in skin lightness. Topical niacinamide also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it a potential treatment for acne, rosacea and any blistering-type disease.

Dermatologist Zoe Diana Draelos, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C. is confident that praise for the therapeutic effects of niacinamide will continue to rise. Dr. Draelos hails, "Already, topical 4% niacinamide has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of papular and pustular acne in a 4% gel, as well as the improvement of skin cancer and its anti-tumor characteristics".

Dr. Baumann cautions that the many versions of one vitamin can be confusing and recommends speaking with your dermatologist to ensure you are selecting the right vitamin product for your skin care needs.

While it's comforting to place a host of cosmetic aspirations in the latest beauty craze, Mother Nature's wisdom will never lead you astray. If you can't wait to get the benefits of B vitamins in your beauty cream, just go to your local market and help yourself to some chicken, tuna, potatoes, spinach, asparagus, black beans and watermelon. These are just of few of the foods providing bountiful servings of vitamin B. Remember, these scores of medical insights and promises started with a nutritional deficiency.

Naweko San-Joyz writes health and beauty articles from her home in San Diego. She recently published "Acne Messages: Crack the code of your zits and say goodbye to acne" (ISBN: 0974912204). Naweko is presently working on title called "Skinny Fat Girls, Why we're still not getting this diet thing" (ISBN: 0974912212) for release in May of 2005. To challenge and verify her research, San-Joyz trains for figure competitions.


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