Niacin has become an increasingly popular supplement to add for those of us trying to keep our lipid levels within a healthy range. Studies have shown that niacin can lower LDL cholesterol by anywhere between 5 and 25% and triglycerides by at least 20 to 50%. Additionally, HDL cholesterol may be increased by as much as 35%. Because of its ability to touch all aspects of your lipid profile, it may be tempting to go to your local pharmacy or health food store to get a bottle.
However, when you arrive in the niacin section of the supplements aisle, you may be encountered with a vast variety of niacin supplements. Before you reach for that bottle of niacin, this article will show you how to distinguish between the different types of niacin you might find on the shelves when shopping for a niacin product.
Before you purchase and begin taking a niacin supplement – or any supplement – you should speak with your healthcare provider. Niacin has gained a lot of negative attention recently. Although niacin appears to improve your lipid profile, one large study (AIM-HIGH study) recently showed that taking extended-release niacin with a statin does not prevent cardiovascular disease any more than taking a statin alone. Additionally, individuals taking niacin in this study had a higher incidence of experiencing an ischemic stroke. Therefore, even though most niacin supplements are sold over-the-counter, this does not mean that they cannot adversely affect your health.
For instance, niacin may also interact with some medications that you are taking. Additionally, niacin may cause side effects or worsen certain medical conditions.
Current guidelines do not recommend the use of niacin in treating cholesterol levels. If your healthcare provider says it is OK for you to add niacin to your cholesterol-lowering regimen, you should still disclose that you are taking niacin, along with any other supplements and medications you are taking, to all of your healthcare providers.
This will help them to check for any drug interactions or medical conditions that may develop.