When you see the words nicotinic acid, it is very possible that your mind automatically goes to cigarettes and the bad things that come from smoking. Nicotinic acid, however, is not a nicotine product. On the contrary, nicotinic acid is niacin; although, before anyone ever uttered the words niacin, there was first nicotinic acid!
Nicotinic acid is a B3 vitamin that is used in prescription medicine to benefit all cholesterol. Nicotinic acid lowers LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels while raising HDL cholesterol levels.
LDL cholesterol has been dubbed the bad cholesterol in the human body while HDL has been dubbed the good cholesterol in the human body. By now must people know that there are good and bad cholesterols, but many don’t understand why HDL is good and LDL is bad. Supplements from both nicotinic acid and niacin are available.
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Nicotinic, Cholesterol and Triglycerides Everybody has a certain amount of LDL cholesterol in their body that doesn’t really harm the body. However, once LDL levels get to a certain level, they start to build up on the walls of the arteries. This in turn creates plaque, making the availabl... more
Everybody has a certain amount of LDL cholesterol in their body that doesn’t really harm the body. However, once LDL levels get to a certain level, they start to build up on the walls of the arteries. This in turn creates plaque, making the available room in the arteries for blood flow diminish. This increases your risk for a blood clot, which can lead to a stroke or a heart attack.
HDL cholesterol helps the body get rid of excess LDL. The higher your HDL levels are, the lower your LDL levels will be because the function of the HDL is working at its highest capacity. It is also believed (but not proven) that HDL can reverse plaque build up in the arteries.
This brings us to triglycerides. Simply put, triglycerides are the chemical form of fat. Triglycerides can be found in virtually every part of the body from the blood stream to plasma and more.
You can blame triglycerides for the fatty deposits that you have in your body because it is triglycerides that convert food to fat storage to be later used for energy purposes. If, however, your triglyceride levels are too high, then the body stores more fat than it uses. Nicotinic acid can reduce your triglyceride levels, which is why is it sometimes sold as a weight loss product.
A blood test is used to determine your LDL, HDL and triglyceride levels in the body. According to the American Heart Association, a good cholesterol reading looks like this:
The thing that nicotinic acid is best at is reducing the production of triglycerides in the body, essentially doing the job of the HDL cholesterol. It also increases HDL levels to some degree; about 15% is average but HDL can sometimes increase as much as 35% while taking nicotinic acid.
Triglycerides can be reduced by as much as 50% with nicotinic acid alone. If your body responds well and increases your HDL levels as well, then you should see a significant decrease in triglycerides.
While nicotinic acid has been proven to help cholesterol levels, there are some ways that supplement companies sell nicotinic acid products that haven’t been clinically studied. The assumption is that because niacin is used in the body for energy production that taking niacin products will also increase energy and so many supplement companies sell nicotinic acid products as ways to promote energy levels.
Some supplement companies sell nicotinic acid as a weight loss product. Again, the assumption here is that it reduces the amount of triglycerides in the body, which reduces the amount of fat your body stores. This in turn means that you will achieve weight loss.
The problem with this assumption is that it takes very high doses of nicotinic acid to achieve the kind of clinical results needed to benefit cholesterol levels. You will not get the levels of nicotinic acid needed to control cholesterol from a supplement unless you go off label and take triple or quadruple the dose.
This is not recommended for three reasons. First of all, supplement companies usually combine with other ingredients and fillers to make the product more affordable. Secondly, if you have high cholesterol, then you should be supervised by our physician to ensure that you aren’t in a danger zone in terms of heart disease.
Lastly, there are numerous side effects associated with nicotinic acid, some dangerous and some not so dangerous. If you aren’t supervised by a doctor, you could easily overdose on nicotinic acid or experience side effects without knowing whether or not they are ones that could eventually kill you.
Nicotinic acid can be an excellent supplement for you to use if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, you shouldn’t use supplements to control your already high cholesterol. Your doctor should be involved with whatever treatment that you start for your cholesterol problems.
One of the most common side effects of nicotinic acid is flushing. Flushing is kind of like blushing, only you also feel your skin getting warmer. Many people find flushing to be a little uncomfortable while others find it to be painful and intolerable. Most doctors that prescribe nicotinic acid start at lower doses and increase over time so that your body can build a resistance to the flushing.
There are a variety of other side effects that range from no problem to life threatening. It is important that you discuss your side effects with your doctor to ensure that you aren’t experiencing any side effects that will negatively impact your health.
Itchy skin is also a side effect of taking nicotinic acid.
Some of the more serious side effects include:
There are, unfortunately, many other side effects that can be serious if not noticed right away. It is very important that you work closely with your doctor to ensure that you stay healthy while taking nicotinic acid.
Most of the more serious side effects will not cause permanent damage if you are able to catch them in time. If you see any changes in the way your body is behaving when taking niacin products, call your doctor to ensure that you are okay!
Dosing is the trickiest part of prescribing nicotinic acid. When in supplement form, you should not take more than 1000 mg a day, although the most common dose is 500 mg a day.
When it comes to prescription nicotinic acid, you will find that your doctor will either prescribe you time release pills, which reduces flushing problems or they will prescribe you your daily dose in a single large dose.
There are more benefits from the single dose, but many people experience such severe flushing that they stop using it, which is why many doctors relent and try the time release or lower dose options.
A common prescription of nicotinic acid for a single dose pill is 1.5 grams to 3 grams while a time release pill is usually prescribed in 1.5 grams to 2 grams a day. However, this dose can vary depending on a variety of factors such as:
No matter what your condition is, always talk to your doctor before taking nicotinic acid products, including supplements, so that you get the care that you need for your heart. Compare nicotinic acid options, along with other nutrition choices, by using the free supplement finder now!
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