Niacin is required for the proper function of fats and sugars in the body and to maintain healthy cells. At high doses, niacin might help people with heart disease because of its effects on blood clotting. It might also improve levels of fats called triglycerides in the blood.
Prescription forms of niacin are approved by the US FDA for abnormal cholesterol levels and for preventing vitamin B3 deficiency and related conditions such as pellagra. People use niacin supplements for metabolic syndrome, heart disease, cataracts, high blood pressure, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these other uses.
Do not confuse niacin with NADH, niacinamide, inositol nicotinate, IP-6, or tryptophan. These are not the same.
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Likely Effective for
- Abnormal levels of cholesterol or blood fats (dyslipidemia). Taking niacin prescription products by mouth in doses of 500 mg or more improves cholesterol levels in people with abnormal cholesterol. Dietary supplement forms of niacin usually come in lower doses and don't seem to improve blood fat levels.
- A disease caused by niacin deficiency (pellagra). Niacin prescription products are US FDA approved for preventing and treating pellagra.
Possibly Effective for
- Abnormal levels of blood fats in people with HIV/AIDS. Taking prescription niacin products by mouth seems to improve levels of cholesterol and blood fats called triglycerides in people with this condition. It is unclear if niacin supplements are helpful.
- A grouping of symptoms that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (metabolic syndrome). Taking prescription niacin products by mouth seems to increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol and reduce levels of blood fats called triglycerides in people with metabolic syndrome. It is unclear if niacin supplements are helpful.
A common side effect of niacin is a flushing reaction. This might cause burning, itching, and redness of the face, arms, and chest, as well as headaches. Starting with small doses and taking 325 mg of aspirin before each dose of niacin may help. This reaction usually goes away as the body gets used to niacin.
Special Precautions and Warnings
A common side effect of niacin is a flushing reaction. This might cause burning, itching, and redness of the face, arms, and chest, as well as headaches. Starting with small doses and taking 325 mg of aspirin before each dose of niacin may help. This reaction usually goes away as the body gets used to niacin. Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Niacin is likely safe when taken by mouth while pregnant and breast-feeding. The maximum recommended amount of niacin while pregnant or breast-feeding is 30 mg daily in those under 18 years of age, and 35 mg daily for those 19 years and older.
Children: Niacin is likely safe when taken by mouth in doses below the tolerable upper intake level (UL) by age. The UL is 10 mg for children 1-3 years of age, 15 mg for children 4-8 years of age, 20 mg for children 9-13 years of age, and 30 mg for children 14-18 years of age.
Allergies: Niacin might worsen allergies by causing histamine to be released. Histamine is the chemical responsible for allergic symptoms.
Chest pain (angina): Niacin should be used cautiously in people with angina.
Diabetes: Niacin might increase blood sugar. People with diabetes who take niacin should check their blood sugar carefully.
Gallbladder disease: Niacin might make gallbladder disease worse.
Gout: Large amounts of niacin might increase the risk for gout.
Kidney disease: Niacin might accumulate in people with kidney disease. This might cause harm.
Liver disease: Taking high doses of niacin might increase liver damage. Don't use large amounts if you have liver disease.
Low blood pressure: Taking niacin in high doses might lower blood pressure and worsen this condition.
Stomach or intestinal ulcers: Niacin might make ulcers worse. Don't use large amounts if you have ulcers.
Surgery: Niacin might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Speak with your healthcare provider about whether you should stop taking niacin before a scheduled surgery.
Fatty deposits around tendons (tendon xanthomas): Niacin might increase the risk of infections in xanthomas.
Thyroid disorders: Thyroxine is a hormone produced by the thyroid gland. Niacin might lower blood levels of thyroxine. This might worsen symptoms of certain thyroid disorders.
Alcohol (Ethanol) interacts with NIACIN AND NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3)
Niacin can cause flushing and itchiness. Consuming alcohol along with niacin might make the flushing and itching worse. There is also some concern that consuming alcohol with niacin might increase the chance of having liver damage.
Allopurinol (Zyloprim) interacts with NIACIN AND NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3)
Allopurinol is used to treat gout. Taking large doses of niacin might worsen gout and decrease the effects of allopurinol.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with NIACIN AND NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3)
High doses of niacin might increase blood sugar levels. Taking niacin along with diabetes medications might reduce the effects of these medications. Monitor your blood sugar closely.
Medications used for lowering cholesterol (Bile acid sequestrants) interacts with NIACIN AND NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3)
Some medications called bile acid sequestrants can decrease how much niacin the body absorbs. This might reduce the effects of niacin. Take niacin and these medications at least 4-6 hours apart.
Medications used for lowering cholesterol (Statins) interacts with NIACIN AND NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3)
Taking niacin along with statins might increase the risk for muscle damage in some people. Use with caution.
Probenecid (Benemid) interacts with NIACIN AND NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3)
Probenecid is used to treat gout. Taking large doses of niacin might worsen gout and decrease the effects of probenecid.
Sulfinpyrazone (Anturane) interacts with NIACIN AND NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3)
Sulfinpyrazone is used to treat gout. Taking large doses of niacin might worsen gout and decrease the effects of sulfinpyrazone.
Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs) interacts with NIACIN AND NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3)
Niacin might lower blood pressure. Taking niacin along with medications that lower blood pressure might cause blood pressure to go too low. Monitor your blood pressure closely.
Medications that can harm the liver (Hepatotoxic drugs) interacts with NIACIN AND NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3)
Niacin might harm the liver. Some medications can also harm the liver. Taking niacin along with a medication that can harm the liver might increase the risk of liver damage.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with NIACIN AND NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3)
Niacin might slow blood clotting. Taking niacin along with medications that also slow blood clotting might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding.
Thyroid hormone interacts with NIACIN AND NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3)
The body naturally produces thyroid hormones. Niacin might decrease thyroid hormone levels. Taking niacin with thyroid hormone pills might decrease the effects of thyroid hormone.
Gemfibrozil (Lopid) interacts with NIACIN AND NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3)
Taking niacin along with gemfibrozil might increase the risk for muscle damage in some people. Use with caution.
Nicotine patch (Nicoderm) interacts with NIACIN AND NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3)
Niacin can sometimes cause flushing and dizziness. Nicotine patches can also cause flushing and dizziness. Taking niacin and using a nicotine patch may increase the risk of flushing and dizziness.
Be cautious with this combination
Aspirin interacts with NIACIN AND NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3)
Aspirin is often used to reduce the flushing caused by niacin. These low doses of aspirin don't seem to cause any issues when taken with niacin. But taking higher doses of aspirin, such as 1 gram daily, might decrease how fast the body gets rid of niacin. This could cause there to be too much niacin in the body and possibly lead to side effects. Stick with lower doses of aspirin, such as 325 mg or less.
Be watchful with this combination
Niacin is also found in many foods, including meat, fish, milk, eggs, vegetables, and cereals. The amount that should be consumed on a daily basis is called the recommended dietary allowance (RDA). In males 14 years and older, the RDA is 16 mg NE. In females 14 years and older, the RDA is 14 mg NE. While pregnant, the RDA is 18 mg NE. While breast-feeding, the RDA is 17 mg NE. In children, the RDA depends on age. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what dose might be best for a specific condition.
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