Niacin is a water-soluble, essential human nutrient. It is often called vitamin B3 because it was the third of the B vitamins to be discovered. In 1955, it was discovered to have lipid-lowering properties and became the first treatment for high cholesterol. It has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack.
Even though niacin is classified as a dietary supplement, to help manage cholesterol levels it needs to be taken in large doses, which are much larger than the recommended daily requirement. Large doses of niacin change it from a dietary supplement to a drug, whether it is given by prescription or bought over the counter. Because of this, it is necessary to be taken under medical supervision.
Many people with high cholesterol levels try to improve them through their diet and exercise. When these methods aren’t sufficient, their doctor will usually prescribe statin drugs. Statins are better at lowering LDL or bad cholesterol than niacin, but niacin has one advantage. It raises HDL or good cholesterol much better than statins do. It also lowers the fats in the blood called triglycerides that can raise the risk of heart disease. These are a few of the reasons taking niacin to manage cholesterol is good for people who don’t tolerate statins or have low HDL or high triglycerides. Another advantage of niacin is that it helps people with elevated levels of the small, dense LDL particles that increase coronary risk.
The most common side effect of high-dose niacin is intense flushing on the upper body and face. This doesn’t last long and is not harmful and usually decreases the longer the niacin is taken. Individuals can reduce the flushing if you take the niacin with food and avoid hot drinks and alcohol near the time you take it. It is recommended to take it after dinner or a late-night snack. Specialists can determine if niacin is suitable for a person’s high cholesterol and explain some of the risks. It may slightly raise blood sugar, but is found suitable for people with diabetes.
Since there are several different forms of niacin, it is not recommended to self-medicate. Immediate-release niacin may cause more flushing than sustained-release or extended-release niacin. However, it is not recommended to take over-the-counter formulations. The prescription formulations are the most effective and less likely to cause flushing. The forms that have little or no effect on cholesterol are inositol hexanicotinate and niacinamide.
Niacin can help manage high cholesterol levels, and, in some cases, a combination of niacin and statins work the best. If you are interested in finding the appropriate supplements to sell to your patients, contact Doctors Supplement Store today.