Niacin: The Benefits, Dosage Information, and Possible Side Effects | 1MD Nutrition™

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Niacin: The Benefits, Dosage Information, and Possible Side Effects

Your body requires niacin to function, and food is the best source. But supplemental niacin can also be beneficial for those seeking additional support for heart health. Here is more information on its benefits.

7 minute read

Last Updated March 21, 2022

Niacin: The Benefits, Dosage Information, and Possible Side Effects

Niacin, or vitamin B3, is one of the most valuable nutrients for human health. Every part of the body requires niacin in order to function properly. 

The body uses niacin to turn food into energy and to support your digestive and immune systems. It also works in several ways to promote heart health. Most people can get the niacin they need from a balanced diet, but sometimes a supplement can help make sure your heart gets the support it needs.

Niacin and Your Heart

The optimal functioning of your heart is dependent on several factors. Circulation can be impacted by cholesterol levels in the blood, blood glucose levels, arterial health, and blood pressure. 

Cholesterol and triglycerides are the two common blood fats (lipids) whose levels can change as a result of an unhealthy diet or lack of exercise.

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Total cholesterol consists of HDL (good) cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Niacin can help maintain healthy total cholesterol levels as part when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle. Niacin also helps to promote healthy triglyceride levels by acting on an enzyme that is involved in triglyceride synthesis. 

Niacin’s ability to aid in the maintenance of cholesterol levels helps support arterial health and proper circulation. Niacin also helps reduce occasional oxidative stress to the arteries to further promote overall cardiovascular system health. 

The heart health benefits of niacin don't stop there. Because there is a link between blood glucose levels and heart health, it is important to also keep blood glucose levels within a healthy range. Niacin supports blood vessel health by promoting healthy blood glucose levels for not just heart health, but metabolic health too.

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Additional Benefits of Niacin

Niacin is a vital nutrient for heart and circulatory health, but it holds benefits for other systems within your body too.

Brain health: Your brain requires niacin for the maintenance of healthy brain cells. Powerful compounds in niacin help reduce occasional oxidative stress to brain tissues and support signaling between nerve cells, which promotes mental agility and memory. Your brain also requires the coenzymes NAD and NADP for energy to function, and niacin is a significant component of these coenzymes. 

♦ Immunity: Niacin has the ability to support immune cell activity to promote healthy immune systems responses. In doing so, niacin can help the body protect itself against environmental threats.

♦ Digestion: Niacin plays a key role in digestive tract functions. Namely, it helps with the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats to promote proper nutrient absorption and healthy bowel movements.

♦ Joint health: By helping to reduce occasional oxidative stress, niacin can help support joint mobility and flexibility.a statue of a person holding a sword

Taking Niacin Supplements

Everybody needs niacin, but the amount required will depend on age and gender. 

Niacin supplements are considered safe for consumption so long as taken as recommended only. Speak with your doctor to find out how much you should be taking. 

There are no dangers associated with the levels of niacin found in foods, but care should always be taken with supplements.

There are side effects associated with too much niacin, these include:

♦ Niacin flush: Niacin can cause blood vessel dilation, which leads to a flush of the face, chest, or neck. You may also experience tingling in these areas too.

♦ Upset stomach: Supplements can cause occasional nausea and diarrhea, but this seems to occur mostly with slow-release supplements.

♦ Liver enzyme changes: Long-term use of niacin supplements has been linked to elevated levels of liver enzymes.

♦ Blood sugar changes: Larger doses of niacin may cause blood sugar levels to fall into unhealthy ranges.

♦ Eye problems: In very rare cases, increased niacin levels can cause blurred vision.

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Niacin supplements can also have interactions with other supplements and medications. Alcohol should be avoided when taking supplemental niacin and you should speak with your doctor if you are taking any prescriptions before adding a niacin supplement to your routine.

The Bottom Line

Niacin is one of eight B vitamins that are required for overall health. Although you can get most of the niacin you need from food, certain individuals can benefit from supplements. This mineral can help support healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure to promote overall heart and circulatory health. So, if you are looking to show your heart some love, discuss the option of taking niacin with your doctor.