Weird ingredient mystery

Last week, I mentioned that I was going to mention a weird gum ingredient: it's nicotine. Or is it?

The gum is called Black Black, produced by Lotte in Japan. The gum is popular because it contains caffeine. You can buy it at Japanese food stores. I bought mine in Arlington Heights, where more Japanese people live.

One day I was looking at the list of ingredients, and saw the word ニコチン (nikochin). I went to my sort-of-trusty Katakana dictionary, and saw that ニコチン was "nicotine." But after the word ニコチン, there was 酸アミド (san-amide) which means "acid amide." So I wondered if it was some sort of acidic version of nicotine, which kind of spooked me, because how many gums have you seen that have nicotine in them?

After some research, I discovered that the ingredient may look like some form of nicotine, but it's actually niacinamide. According to a British site:
"Nicotine can be oxidised to nicotinic acid (niacin) which is present in minute amounts in all living cells. The corresponding amide, niacinamide, is an essential B vitamin."
(Note the British spelling of "oxidized." That's cool.)

Here's some more information:

"Niacin is a member of the B-vitamin family. It is sometimes referred to as vitamin B3. Nicotinic acid was first discovered as an oxidation product of nicotine and thus, the origin of its name. In fact, much of the confusion caused by the use of the term niacin for both nicotinic acid and nicotinamide, as well as for nicotinic acid alone, was created by the attempt to dissociate nicotinic acid from its nicotine origins."

Strangely enough, you can't see the picture of the gum on the Lotte site, and there doesn't seem to be any explanation from the company about that ingredient. So it's up to the researchers and other online pundits to explain what this ingredient is. There are still people online who claim that it's nicotine. They could be right. As long as the company is silent about it, then conspiracy theories will abound.

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