Vitamin b3, also known as niacin, is a heart healthy vitamin. It is known for helping to lower and regulate cholesterol levels as well as improve cardiovascular health when taken in high doses.
As mentioned above, niacin can help to improve cholesterol levels. Actually, studies have shown that high doses of this vitamin may even be more effective than some prescription medications. However, most physicians will prescribe this vitamin in combination with a medication for optimal results.
How does this vitamin affect cholesterol so greatly? It plays on many factors of cholesterol. First of which is the good HDL cholesterol; niacin acts to boost these good cholesterol levels. On top of raising good cholesterol levels, it works to lower the bad LDL cholesterol as well as lower triglycerides.
On top of lowering cholesterol levels, this vitamin can reduce the risk of other heart related diseases. For example, it can help to prevent the hardening of arteries, known as atherosclerosis. In addition, it can help to reduce the risk of a reoccurrence of a heart attack. Other uses are for the possible treatment of type 1 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cataracts.
Niacin is an essential vitamin for the body in order for it to function. The dose of niacin varies with age. For children, the recommended dose is between 2 and 16mg per day. For adults, the recommended dose depends on sex, age, and medical conditions; however, the maximum daily intake is 35mg. If you are prescribed this vitamin by a physician to treat a medical condition, the daily dose can be as high as 2 to 3g.
In order to reduce the possibility of an upset stomach when taking this supplement, you should take it with a meal.
Also, niacin is found naturally in foods such as, meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and greens.
Since niacin needs to be taken in high doses in order to prove effective for the treatment of high cholesterol, it does have some risks. Some of the risks that high doses of this vitamin pose are gastrointestinal problems, acquired glucose intolerance, low blood pressure, stomach ulcers, as well as liver damage. Due to these possible risks, it is not recommended to self medicate and get these vitamins in high doses over the counter, speak with your health care provider before taking them.
Some other minor side effects that can occur are flushing of the face and neck, upset stomach and diarrhea. These side effects are not permanent and should subside over time.
There are certain medications that may have negative interactions with high doses of niacin supplements. One should be cautious if they are on diabetes drugs, blood thinners, thyroid medications, as well as antibiotics.
If niacin is taken in lower doses, there should be no side effects.
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Research done by Jessica L. Silvestri