Niacin- For High Cholesterol

by Dr. Michael Kane
Niacin is also known as vitamin b3. This vitamin can come in many forms some have different clinical effects. For lowering cholesterol, the niacin is often given in the time released form. This is the one that works best. Niacinamide can have some effect but it is not as effective as regular niacin.
The products used to treat high cholesterol typically come in high strengths of 500 mg or higher.
Niacin is often considered first-line for patients with mixed hyperlipidemia or patients who need to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL or good form) cholesterol . Niacin reduces LDL cholesterol by about 5% to 25%, compared to 18% to 55% with statins. But niacin can decrease triglycerides by 20% to 50% and increase HDL by 15% to 35% . The effects of niacin are dose-dependent. The most pronounce increases in HDL and decreases in triglycerides occur at 1200-1500 mg/day. 
There are multiple forms of  niacin and not all forms are effective in lowering cholesterol. We see good results with a time released form of niacin from
Rugby, 100 capsules of 500 mg for $10.00.
There are some cautions with niacin.  Some people can have a flushing reaction. This feels like a hot flash, and is a result of the increased circulation and dilation of blood vessels that niacin can cause. This effect can be decreased by slowly increasing dose and /or taking an enteric coated aspirin.
Some people can be sensitive to niacin which can cause an elevation in liver enzymes. This is not frequent but can happen. Niacin at high doses can have the potential to raise blood sugars so people with diabetes should check their sugars more frequently.
If you think that you might like to try niacin for high cholesterol talk to your doctor.