Niacin, also known as nicotinic acid, is vitamin B3. It is soluble in water and is able to lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels and raise HDL cholesterol levels when given in doses that is much higher than recommended for good health.
Niacin is used by your body to turn carbohydrates into energy. It also helps keep your nervous system, digestive system, skin, hair and eyes healthy. Although naicin is often a component of your daily vitamins supplement, most people can get enough naicin from the food they eat. It is found in many foods, including dairy products, lean meats, poultry, fish, nuts, egg, enriched breads and cereals.
When used as part of a multivitamins or supplement it is often simply referred to as naicin. However when prescribed by doctors as a cholesterol drug, it is in much higher doses. Some common brand names of prescription niacin are Niaspan, Niacor and Slo-Niacin (slow release).
A typical starting dose is 250mg taken three times a day. This is progressive increased to a maximun daily dose of 4.5g. This is a lot when the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) which is 13mg for women and 19mg for men!
However Niacin can lower LDL cholesterol by 10-20%, lower triglycerides by 20-50% and raise HDL levels by 15-35%.
Niacin as a cholesterol drug should not be taken with consulting with your doctors as there are many side effects associated with this drug. Due to the widening of the blood vessels caused by niacin, you may experience frequent hot flushes. It is not recommended for menopausal women.
In addition it can upset the digestive system causing nausea, indigestion, gas and diarrhea. People suffering from peptic ulcers should avoid Naicin as it can seriously aggravate the problem.
Other problematic side effects include gout, an increase in blood sugar levels and inflamation of the liver.