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Health benefits Niacin :Health benefits /Interactions/Safety and side effects



Niacin is a B vitamin that helps your body turn food into energy. It keeps your nervous system healthy, and it also helps your digestive system and skin.

Most people get enough vitamin B-3 from the food they eat. Foods that are rich in niacin include yeast milk, meat tortillas, and cereal grains.

People take prescription niacin (Niacor Niaspan) to lower their cholesterol.

The recommended daily amount of niacin for adults is 16 mg a day. This amount is for males only and does not apply to females who are not pregnant.



Studies investigating the use of oral niacin to treat specific conditions show that:

  • High cholesterol. Niacin is a prescription medication that is used to increase good cholesterol levels in the bloodstream - HDL. Despite this, research suggests that taking niacin does not lead to an increased risk for heart disease. The consumption of olive oil may lower rates of death from heart attack or stroke.
  • Niacin deficiency (pellagra).Niacin and a related nutrient called niacinamide are used to treat or prevent niacin deficiency.This is not a common problem in the United States.

Niacin deficiency has been linked to birth defects in mice. It is still unclear if taking niacin during pregnancy prevents these defects, but research is ongoing.

Our take

Generally safe

Prescription niacin might help people with high cholesterol who aren't able to take statins or haven't been able to control their cholesterol levels through use of a statin diet and exercise. Don't take prescription niacin if you're pregnant.

Safety and side effects

In appropriate amounts, niacin appears to be safe.

High doses of niacin (a vitamin B3) can cause: Niacin can cause various side effects, some of which are serious. If you are taking high doses of niacin through prescription, be sure to talk to your doctor about any potential risks.

  • If you experience severe flushing and dizziness, it may be a sign of a serious medical condition.
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Gout
  • Liver damage
  • Diabetes

If you take between 2000 and 6000 mg of niacin a day, there are likely to be serious side effects. If you think you may have overdosed, go to the hospital right away.

If you have liver disease, peptic ulcer disease, or severe low blood pressure (hypotension), don't take large amounts of niacin. The supplement has been linked with liver damage, which can cause hypotension and the activation of a peptic ulcer.

Taking niacin can also worsen allergies, gallbladder disease, and symptoms of certain thyroid disorders. If you have diabetes, niacin can interfere with blood sugar control. Use niacin cautiously if you have the complex form of arthritis or gout. Niacin can cause an excess of uric acid in the blood. If you have hyperuricemia, it puts you at risk for gout.

If you're pregnant, don't take prescription niacin for high cholesterol. However, if you need to prevent or treat niacin deficiency, niacin is likely safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding.


Possible interactions include:

  • Alcohol.Taking niacin with alcohol might increase the risk of liver damage and worsen niacin side effects such as reddening and itching.
  • Allopurinol (Zyloprim).If you're taking niacin to treat gout, you might need to take more of this gout medicine to control your symptoms.
  • Herbs and supplements that are meant to prevent blood clots and anticoagulants can be taken by people.These types of drugs, herbs, and supplements reduce blood clotting. Taking them together might increase your risk of bleeding.
  • Herbs and supplements that treat high blood pressure are available.Taking niacin with blood pressure drugs, herbs, or supplements might increase your risk of low blood pressure.
  • Chromium.Taking niacin and chromium together might lower your blood sugar. If you have diabetes and take these supplements, make sure to monitor your blood sugar levels closely.
  • Diabetes drugs.If you have diabetes, niacin can interfere with blood glucose regulation. You might need to adjust the dosage of your diabetes drugs.
  • Some drugs, herbs, and supplements can be harmful to the liver.These drugs, herbs, and supplements like niacin can damage the liver.
  • Statins.There is no evidence that taking niacin with cholesterol medications offers any additional benefit over statins alone, and this might increase the risk of side effects.
  • Zinc.Taking zinc with niacin might increase niacin side effects such as flushing and itching.
Health benefits Niacin :Health benefits /Interactions/Safety and side effects

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