Do you have cholesterol problems? If yes, you’ve probably heard about the B vitamin niacin. You’ve heard this for good reason: Several studies do indeed show that niacin (also called vitamin B3) can raise HDL (good cholesterol) levels by as much as 35% and lower LDL (bad cholesterol) by as much as 25%. Niacin can also lower triglycerides by as much as 50%. Niacin may also lower total cholesterol as well. These facts rank niacin among the top natural alternatives for those with cholesterol problems. There is however a problem with niacin that you need to know about. You see, there is more than one type of niacin and not all types help cholesterol levels.
Types of Niacin
There are basically 3 different types of niacin.
1. Niacin (also called nicotinic acid)
2. Niacinamide (also called nicotinamide)
I’ve listed the types like this so you can make sense of them. Niacin can be confusing because the names sound alike.
Of these 3 types of niacin, it is the first type listed – niacin (also called nicotinic acid) – that has most of the published peer reviewed evidence for helping cholesterol.
One well known side effect of niacin is a flushing of the skin. Niacinamide (the 2nd type listed above) does not cause this side effect and that’s why it may be found in some no flush niacin supplements.
But, Niacinamide does not lower cholesterol either.
Check your supplement to see what type of niacin it contains.
The third type, called hexaniacinate (also called inositol hexaniacinate) might help cholesterol but the proof is not as much as I'd like.
Niacin and Cholesterol: Quick Reference
|Niacin (also called Nicotinic Acid||Lowers LDL, raises HDL, lowers total cholesterol, lowers triglycerides|
|Niacinamide (also called Nicotinamide)||Does not lower cholesterol|
|Hexaniacinate (also called inositol hexaniacinate)||Less proof it helps cholesterol|
Niacin Side Effects
Before taking supplements, you need to know that taking too much can cause some very serious side effects including:
- Liver damage
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
- Alter blood sugar levels
These are just a few of the side effects.
Being overweight can raise cholesterol levels as well as cause type II diabetes. Diabetics who take these supplements for cholesterol may make their diabetes worse.
Supplements may also interact with other medications you take.
See the supplements and liver damage review.
How Much Niacin Works?
It’s very important that you use caution with niacin to avoid bad side effects and I strongly urge you to speak to your doctor before taking this vitamin on your own. That said, to help you compare what is in your niacin supplements, research finds that about 1 gram (1000 mg) can help.
If you have health insurance you may be able to get prescription strength drug (called Nispan). Some people like this option because it may be cheaper than niacin supplements. Also see my review of citrus bergamot and cholesterol.
What do you think?
Tom Davis says
Looks like to me you have more reading and less thinking to do…..
Joe Cannon says
Tom, thanks for the pdf. Can you be more specific? There’s never enough time for all the reading I want to do.
Interesting, more evidence of frankly evil, greedy, Big Pharma corruption, hiding/suppressing evidence of actual food/vitamin cures for illness, for profit, via bought doctors and administration, with fake recommended and upper limits for Vitamin intake. The whatever times RDA values on ‘mega’-dose supplement container labels are meaningless, what they should be showing us is the _optimum_ amount needed per Kg, possibly for multiple age ranges and each sex!
This is typical for the “covid-19 scandal”, because as a precaution I upgraded my vitamin intake to much higher amounts including A, K2-MK4, D2, and many gram of C per day, thus no colds for over a year and trivial congestion, since then! We have probably been lied to about ‘viruses’ too, because rather than parasites, they are probably “Exosomes”, messages from cells to other cells warning about genetic damage, possibly even between bodies, to allow far more rapid adaption than sex allows, as revealed by the recent book “The Contagion Myth”, thus all ‘vaccines’ are useless, contaminated, and always contain toxic adjuvants to cause a reaction! The latter to trick people that it caused a healthy immune response.
Joe Cannon says
Keythong, Im glad you have not gotten sick. It would be wonderful if we had optimum doses for vitamins and minerals. Unless some private entity undertakes research like that I doubt it will happen. As for Covid, at least one study has shown 50 mg of zinc and 8000 mg of vitamin C (or their combination) does not seem to speed recovery from Covid, compared to the normal treatment. These nutrients can help the immune system stay strong – as can exercise – but unfortunately, they may not help people infected with Covid.
The niacin flush is a histamine reaction. Take some vitamin C with it which is an anti-histamine and that will help decrease the flush. Add some food in there also and I rarely have any flush. Also if you continue to take niacin regular after about 2 – 3 weeks your body will get used to the niacin and reduce the flush all by itself.
There have been zero reported deaths due to niacin according to http://www.doctoryourself.com. People have taken a whole bottle of niacin with the worst side effect was – the voices in their head stopped talking. The pharmacy version of niacin aka niaspan does have pharmacy side effects so sticking with plan old niacin is best.
Cindy, niacin can alter liver enzymes and raise blood sugar. I think whether its niacin the vitamin or or niaspan the drug, regular checkups are needed. Ive never heard of vitamin C reducing the niacin flush but I have heard aspirin does it.
Ive never seen Doctoryourself.com. Interesting site. I looked up Dr. Andrew Saul who runs the site. According to his CV http://www.doctoryourself.com/resume.html he has a “Non-Traditional Doctor of Philosophy in Human Ethology, Greenwich University, Hilo, HI, 1995.” I’m not sure what “non-traditional” means.
The niacin flush is a vasodilation effect, not a histamine reaction.
Don Radlauer says
I take 1.5 grams of niacin daily – one gram with breakfast, and half a gram before bed. A couple of notes:
1) I have found that niacin raised my HDL. Between niacin and weight loss (from 113 to around 81 kg.), I’ve managed to get off simvastatin and maintain good blood-lipid levels.
2) Baby aspirin does help; I take one a little while before taking the 1-gram niacin. (If you can only get the enteric-coated kind, chew it before swallowing; there’s evidence that the coated stuff doesn’t work as well as non-coated, so breaking it up may give better results.) I don’t take aspirin before my nightly dose – but then I’ve had a few years to get used to substantial doses of niacin. I’ve never tried apples for this purpose.
3) There is some evidence that time-release formulations of niacin can be toxic to the liver; so standard niacin, while it causes much more flushing/itching than the time-release stuff, appears to be safer.
Dan, research does show niacin can raise HDL levels so Im not surprised (but am glad) that is something you noticed. Ive heard the aspirin can decrease the flushing that niacin can cause. Because high doses of niacin can impact the liver, its wise to get regular check ups, which I’m sure you already are.
Dom Corson says
Just a little FYI. I have not tried this because I don’t take Niaspan, but my doctor told me if you eat an apple with Niaspan, you can avoid the “flush” effect.
Dom, thats interesting. Ive heard a baby aspirin might help this but never an apple.
Prescription niacin is called “Niaspan”.