Aid Overall Health

Niacin, or vitamin B3, is an important organic compound that helps to increase good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol. Doctors often prescribe niacin to patients that have high blood pressure or that have heart disease.

Niacin is found in both plants and animals and a niacin deficiency is rare because it occurs naturally in so many things. Typically, physicians don’t prescribe niacin supplements because a patient has a deficiency, but because they have some other medical need.

While doctors heavily prescribe niacin to high-risk patients, many patients don’t stay on niacin for very long because of the side effects (to be discussed in more detail later). In many cases the side effects aren’t life threatening, but they are very uncomfortable. Most doctors encourage patients to try to stay on the Niacin for as long as possible to receive the most benefit.

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Niacin Benefits Niacin is used by the body for energy; more specifically, the body turns carbs into energy. In addition, the body uses niacin to maintain a healthy nervous system, to provide healthy skin and hair, keep the digestive track working correctly and to keep the eyes healthy.  ... more

Niacin Benefits

Niacin is used by the body for energy; more specifically, the body turns carbs into energy. In addition, the body uses niacin to maintain a healthy nervous system, to provide healthy skin and hair, keep the digestive track working correctly and to keep the eyes healthy. 

Of course, what you hear most about niacin is that it raises your HDL levels, which is your good cholesterol while reducing your LDL levels, which is your bad cholesterol. It is very important to note that while niacin does raise HDL levels, it doesn’t have enough impact to use alone if you have low HDL levels. You have to eat well and exercise in order to get the most benefit from niacin.

In the past niacin, was not prescribed as a way to raise HDL levels, it was prescribed as a way to lower LDL levels and triglycerides. Because studies have shown that there is some benefit to the HDL levels, many doctors prescribe niacin to patients with low HDL; however, the popular consensus is that there needs to be something better developed for HDL because niacin isn’t enough.

Currently niacin is the only effective treatment for HDL boosting.

Many people don’t understand the importance of having a good HDL level. HDL is the cholesterol in your body that works positively for your body. HDL transports bad cholesterol in your body to the liver for removal. What’s more, your other cholesterol can be great but if you have low HDL, you are still at risk for heart disease.

Niacin does an excellent job of lowering LDL and triglycerides; however, it works best when combined with a healthy lifestyle. Many doctors don’t believe their patients will change the way that they live so once they find out their patients have high cholesterol they will prescribe niacin in conjunction with other heart medications to control blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Because of this many drug companies have developed products that combine niacin with other heart medications so that a patient only has to take a single drug.

Niacin Side Effects

As mentioned above, there are some side effects that cause people to stop taking niacin products very quickly. The most common side effect of niacin based products is flushing.

Flushing is when the skin gets hot and turns red. Flushing isn’t dangerous but many people who take niacin products find that the flushing is unbearable.

Interestingly, many doctors and medical websites pass off the flushing as a minor nuisance that is temporary. However, a large percentage of people who experience flushing find it intolerable enough to stop taking niacin completely.

Some drug companies have created niacin products combined with aspirin or other medicines that can help reduce the flushing. Regardless, many people still deal with this frequent side effect.

Some other common side effects include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Itching
  • Tingling

In most cases, these side effects will dissipate over time as your body gets used to the niacin in your body. If these side effects persist, then you should talk to your doctor.

There are some serious side effects that are also associated with niacin. These side effects are less common, but if you experience them you should seek medical attention immediately.

  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swelling in the mouth or face
  • Blurry vision
  • Bloody stools
  • Changes in the color of your skin
  • Increase in blood sugar levels

Niacin Warning and Interactions

There are some people who shouldn’t take niacin without the express permission of their doctor. These conditions include:

  • Diabetes
  • Gout
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Angina

Stomach ulcers

In addition, women who are nursing or pregnant should not take niacin based products because niacin may harm your baby. Often your doctor will reduce your niacin levels rather than eliminating them during pregnancy if you have a serious cholesterol problem because a pregnancy can increase cholesterol and blood pressure.

Niacin can interact with a whopping 126 drugs. The good news is that there are only 11 drug interactions that are considered very serious. However, if you are taking any medication, you should talk to your doctor before you start taking any supplements that contain niacin to ensure that there will be no issues.

In addition, if you have a new doctor, ensure that he or she knows about all of the medications that you are currently taking before allowing him or her to prescribe you a niacin based product.

Some of the drugs that you should avoid combining with niacin are:

  • Lovastatin
  • Atorvastatin
  • Leflunomide
  • Cerivastatin
  • Amlopidine
  • Rosuvastatin
  • Eztimibe
  • Simvastatin
  • Leflunomide
  • Pitavastatin
  • Red yeast rice

As you can see, virtually any statin based drug should be avoided when taking niacin, or vice versa.

Niacin Availability and Dosing

Niacin is available in both prescription and non-prescription form. You will find that when buying non prescription niacin it is available in pure niacin tablets as well as in a combination with multi vitamins or with other supplements.

When it comes to the dose for niacin, this will vary between products. However, you will typically find that a typical dose for a supplement is between 500 and 1000 milligrams.

Prescription niacin is a bit different. Your doctor will base your prescription on your current medical condition, what type of medications you are currently taking, whether or not you have tried niacin products successfully before, your weight, height, age and gender.

While you will find that most supplement companies sell niacin products as a way to increase HDL while lowering LDL and triglycerides, the truth is that only a prescription strength of niacin will have any significant impact on these levels. Prescription niacin is much stronger than any niacin that you will be able to get from supplements

In addition, you should never treat high cholesterol without the supervision of your doctor. Niacin supplements are an excellent way to prevent future cholesterol issues but if you already know that you have high cholesterol, don’t try to self medicate; get a prescription from your doctor. This is the safest way to take high doses of niacin.

If you are in the beginning stages of high blood pressure or high cholesterol, then your doctor may suggest trying a supplement before a prescription. In addition, they will recommend that you change your lifestyle by:

  • Losing weight
  • Exercising
  • Reducing your salt intake
  • Quitting smoking (if applicable), and
  • Stop drinking alcohol (if applicable)

Niacin can be an excellent benefit for your body. Just keep in mind that your doctor should know if you are taking any niacin products, especially if he or she is about to start you on new medication. Compare niacin products with the free supplement finder now!


  • Side Effects
  • Other Names
  • Uses
Bloody Stools
Blurred Vision
Breathing Difficulty
Changes In Skin Color
Increase In Blood Sugar Levels
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Eye Health
Hair Health
Manage Cholesterol Levels
Nervous System Health
Skin Health