Niacin & Cardiovascular Health


Niacin, a specific form of Vitamin B3 (also known as Nicotinic Acid), has been reputed as a safe and cost-effective nutrient that can help to lower elevated levels or manage healthy levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Several studies conducted on the effects of high-dose Niacin supplementation on individuals with elevated triglycerides and/or cholesterol have shown that over a varying period of time ( ranging anywhere from three months on up to one year), levels of triglycerides measured in the blood have been lowered substantially by as much as 52%. What’s even more impressive is that as a result of Niacin’s ability to inhibit the functioning of a key enzyme involved in the production of triglycerides, the amount of certain Low-Density Lipoproteins produced in the liver can also be decreased, while levels of High-Density Lipoproteins in the blood can increase by up to 30%. References to these studies are listed below.


In many of these studies an extended or timed-release form of Niacin was used in order to avoid the side effects associated with regular Nicotinic Acid (i.e. skin flushing, nausea, dry skin, diarrhea, Erythema). Unfortunately, although rare, it seems that there is some evidence that long term, high dose supplementation of the extended/timed release forms of Niacin can potentially lead to elevated liver enzymes and liver damage. There is also evidence that high doses of Niacin can also lead to elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood. It is always best to consult with your physician if you are considering using high dose niacin supplementation to lower elevated triglycerides or LDL-cholesterol levels.


I feel strongly that while Niacin may be a safer and more cost effective method to protecting against atherosclerosis and various cardiovascular diseases when compared to certain prescription medications, there are certainly safer and more natural methods to implement that can help to promote a healthy cardiovascular system through helping to modulate healthy lipid levels in the blood.



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Tavintharan, S., et al. The benefits of niacin in atherosclerosis. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 3(1):74-82, 2001.



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