Niacin

Niacin – an essential Nutrient for the Heart

Niacin is considered a vital nutrient necessary for good general health and is also used to reduce the risk of heart attack by treating high cholesterol and high triglycerides levels.

Also known as B3, niacin is a water soluble B vitamin and is not stored in the body. The niacin which is not immediately used by your body is flushed out through the urine.

To maintain healthy niacin levels, to reap its benefits and to maintain good health, you need to consume niacin-rich foods or take supplements daily. Otherwise, you may experience a niacin deficiency.

Several foods are naturally good sources of niacin including beets, fish, salmon, tuna, turkey, peanuts, sunflower seeds and tuna. Many breads and cereals are fortified with niacin.

Niacin and Niacinamide

Niacin and Niacinamide are both forms of vitamin B3. However, they sometimes serve different functions.

For example, Niacinamide is often used instead of niacin to correct niacin deficiency because Niacinamide does not produce the Flush-effect of niacin. The flush is a sensation where parts of the skin or the whole body becomes red, hot and itchy.

Niacinamide is also used instead of niacin in topical creams and ointments for skin care. Unlike niacin though, Niacinamide has not been found to be effective in lowering cholesterol levels. Both niacin and Niacinamide are available in foods and supplements.

Inositol Hexaniacinate

Inositol Hexaniacinate is another form of vitamin B3 which is found in specific supplements. It provides many of the benefits of niacin without some of the side effects.

Unlike Niacinamide, Inositol Hexaniacinate lowers cholesterol levels like niacin but does so without causing any flushing. Inositol Hexaniacinate is referred to as the “no flush” niacin.

Research on the safety of Inositol Hexaniacinate as a prescription medication and as a supplement is ongoing.

Niacin and the B complex family

Niacin is just one of the members of the vitamin B complex family. In total there are 8 B vitamins including: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate) and B12 (cobalamin).

None of the B vitamins are stored in the body and they are all water-soluble. Those amounts that are not used each day are flushed out in the urine. Each of the members of the vitamin B complex family has its own structure, purpose and function in the human body.

There is no evidence that all of the B vitamins perform any functions together. However, some of them work together to perform certain functions or provide health benefits.

A lack of many of the B vitamins is associated with several age-related problems such as cognition problems and dementia.

Niacin health benefits

  • Improves heart health
  • Supports the utilisation of fat and protein in the body
  • Helps to convert food into glucose to produce energy
  • May reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Supports the health of skin, hair and eyes
  • Helps the adrenal glands create stress and sex-related hormones
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Treats Pellagra

Symptoms of a mild niacin deficiency include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Indigestion
  • Vomiting
  • Circulation problems
  • Depression

Niacin reduces cholesterol and improves heart health

Niacin is best known for the role it plays in improving heart health. It significantly raises the good HDL cholesterol levels and helps transport the bad cholesterol to the liver for disposal. It also reduces triglycerides in the bloodstream.

By helping to remove to fatty substances and cholesterol build up in the arteries, niacin helps to prevent atherosclerosis or the hardening and narrowing of the arteries. If not treated, atherosclerosis can lead to heart disease.

Niacin is frequently prescribed in combination with statins such as Lipitor when treating high cholesterol levels. For treating high cholesterol levels, prescription dosages for niacin are higher than supplementary dosages.

Studies have shown, that only high dose Niacin with Flush effect - not the flush-free Niacin - can lower the LDL Cholesterin level effectively.

Niacin may protect against Alzheimer’s disease

Having a niacin deficiency is associating with developing dementia. Researchers are studying whether taking niacin supplements will protect you from suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline as you age.

One population study in a defined area of Chicago included 3.718 people found that a diet rich in niacin did have a protective effect against both cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. However, no research has tested whether niacin supplements offer the same protection.

Niacin improves skin health

Niacin helps improve skin health both inside and out. Niacin helps with circulation, bringing nutrients and moisture to the skin and hair.

Niacinamide is an ingredient in skin ointments and creams. It treats a variety of skin problems including acne and rosacea and skin problems related to aging such as wrinkling and blotchiness.

Niacin treats Pellagra

Niacin is effective in treating pellagra, a disease that occurs from either not consuming enough niacin in the diet or from the body not absorbing the nutrient.

Frequently, Pellagra is seen in people who have poor nutrition or have physical complications which prevents the absorption of niacin. Examples of these physical complications include gastrointestinal disease, alcoholism, HIV/AIDS or eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia.

Symptoms of Pellagra can include:

  • confusion or delusions
  • diarrhea
  • skin sores
  • inflamed mucus membranes

Pellagra can successfully be treated with niacin. Follow dosages recommended by physicians.

Who may benefit from taking Niacin supplements?

Anyone wanting to enjoy the overall benefits of niacin may want to take a supplement. Since niacin is a water soluble vitamin, anyone wanting to replenish or supplement their diet with niacin should consider taking niacin capsules.

This includes people who worry they don’t get enough niacin through their diet. Seniors, for example, may not eat enough food or enough of the right foods to replenish their niacin on a daily basis.

Who may benefit from taking Niacin supplements?

Anyone wanting to enjoy the overall benefits of niacin may want to take a supplement. Since niacin is a water soluble vitamin, anyone wanting to replenish or supplement their diet with niacin should consider taking niacin capsules.

This includes people who worry they don’t get enough niacin through their diet. Seniors, for example, may not eat enough food or enough of the right foods to replenish their niacin on a daily basis.

In addition, niacin supplements are appropriate for anyone concerned about:

  • Treating Pellagra
  • Improving heart health
  • Maintaining healthy skin

Niacin supplements are available and sold over-the-counter. The ingredients, formulations and dosages of supplements are not regulated like prescription medications and can vary greatly. Niacinamide and Inositol Hexanicotinate are also available as supplements.

Does Niacin have any side effects?

Niacin can produce many unpleasant side effects. Side effects include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision

If you experiences any of these side effects, you should stop taking the niacin immediately.

  • Niacin is also causing blushing of the skin, which is actually a normal symptom of taking Niacin, which will go away by itself after about 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the dosage you take.
  • Niacin interactions and combinations

    Niacin can interact with several prescription and non-prescription drugs:

    • Tetracycline
    • Aspirin
    • Blood pressure medications
    • Anticoagulants (blood thinners)
    • Cholesterol-lowering medications

    Taking niacin for an extended period of time may cause liver damage. Also, taking niacin along for an extended period of time may cause an imbalance in the other B vitamins.

    Niacin dosage recommendations

    Niacin supplements are available and sold over-the-counter. Niacinamide and Inositol Hexanicotinate are also available as supplements.

    Be sure to follow recommended dosages. Physicians may recommend higher dosages in order to treat high cholesterol and other medical problems.

    Why take a Niacin supplement?

    There are several reasons to take a niacin supplement including:

    • Supplementing if you don´t get enough from your diet
    • Reducing cholesterol levels
    • Maintaining skin health
    • Treating Pellagra

    Other names of Niacin

    Vitamin B3, Nicotinic acid, Niacinamide, Nicotinamide

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