Niacin is one of the B vitamins. The body uses niacin to convert carbohydrates into energy. Niacin also helps keep other areas healthy such as the eyes, skin and hair. It is also beneficial for both the nervous and digestive systems.
It is included in most multi-vitamins and is common in a wide variety of foods. Niacin is found in fish, nuts and eggs. It is also in many other dairy products and lean meats. It is available as a supplement as well. Niacin may be taken by purchasing over the counter medications or through obtaining a prescription through a health care professional. It should never be taken without the close supervision of a doctor.
HDL cholesterol levels can be raised as much as 15 to 35 percent by taking supplemental niacin, making it the most effective over the counter product which can raise HDL or “good” cholesterol levels. At the same time niacin also reduces “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides levels. The effect of niacin on cholesterol levels helps greatly reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
While taking niacin cholesterol levels can be kept in an appropriate range for optimal health. Some people do experience some side effects. Upset stomach, dizziness and headache are likely to occur. It can also cause liver damage and it can cause elevated sugar levels in some people. Taking niacin with food can help prevent some of the side effects. Also finding the right sized dose can help reduce some of the possible side effects. Niacin can be purchased in a time-released form. This may also help to alleviate side effects for some people.
During the time you are taking niacin, cholesterol levels should be checked by your doctor regularly. There are other things that also need a close watch. Monitoring liver function and blood sugar levels are essential to gaining the most benefit from niacin while avoiding possible serious side effects.
When taking niacin, always stay in close contact with your doctor. They will help you determine the proper dosage and can make any adjustments that might be needed. Do not increase a dosage of niacin without first discussing it with your doctor or health care professional. It is especially important to be monitored by a qualified physician if niacin is going to be taken over a long period of time.