Niacin is known as Vitamin B3. It is incredibly important for our bodies as it helps us function properly. Niacin is one of eight B vitamins. It’s important to get sufficient niacin in our diets because it is water-soluble, meaning that our bodies do not store it, and we often eliminate excess amounts through our urine. Our bodies can make it through an amino acid known as tryptophan, but we still require it through our diets.
Niacin helps to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, helps prevent heart disease, enhances brain function, aids in proper skin health, supports digestive health, and reduces triglyceride levels in the body. Niacin has become popular in the supplement community. It is also often added to skincare products; for example, vitamin B can be found within collagen drink Skinade. Niacin (vitamin B3) can be used to treat acne and scarring and support skin health. So, should you take a niacin supplement? If so, what are the best niacin supplements? Let’s find out!
Different Types Of Niacin Supplements
The two most common forms of niacin supplements are niacinamide (nicotinamide) and nicotinic acid. Niacinamide does not lower cholesterol levels but is very healing for the skin, which is why many skincare products contain this form of niacin. Nicotinic acid, on the other hand, does play a role in lowering cholesterol levels and thus helps reduce the chance of developing heart disease.
Inositol hexanicotinate is a form of flush-free niacin that is also common. This form and nicotinamide are forms that are flush-free, meaning they do not cause the common side effect of face flushing. This flushing is more often associated with nicotinic acid; however, these two flush-free forms are not as effective as nicotinic acid at promoting a healthy lipid panel in the body.
Nicotinic acid comes in an immediate-release form (immediately absorbed within the bloodstream), sustained-release (released more gradually into the bloodstream), or extended-release (released over a longer period of time).
Niacin Supplement Benefits
Niacin seems to have some proven benefits in terms of promoting healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body. The following are some other proven benefits of niacin in the body:
- Lowers LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol)
- Raises HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol)
- Prevents heart disease
- Promotes skin health
- May help treat skin cancer
- Promotes healthy digestion
- Reduces triglyceride levels
- Promotes healthy brain function
- May help treat type 1 diabetes
Although niacin has many benefits within the body, many of these benefits are under-researched and not as proven through the use of supplements.
Should I Take Niacin Supplements?
Many people take niacin supplements to lower their cholesterol, and many doctors will prescribe this type of treatment. It is often combined with statin drugs to effectively lower cholesterol in the body. However, if you are looking to lower cholesterol levels, it’s crucial to consult with a physician before to discuss treatment options for you personally, especially as high doses are usually needed for the optimization of benefits.
Again, most people are able to get sufficient niacin through dietary sources, but needs vary based on gender, age, and health conditions. If you are looking to lower your cholesterol levels, you will need a higher dose and a prescription from your doctor.
Do Niacin Supplements Really Work?
Niacin is a very effective nutrient that our body depends on for overall functioning. However, niacin in supplemental form is often debated in terms of efficacy. For example, there is not much concrete evidence that proves niacin supplements can reduce the risk of heart disease. Niacin supplements also differ based on the form of niacin used, so it’s important to do research to determine the form that will suit you best, especially based on release time in the bloodstream.
Additionally, niacin may interact with certain drugs and medications. It also may have some adverse side effects, including nausea, face flushing, dizziness, skin itching, muscle pain, and leg cramps. Some research has also been studying a potential link between niacin supplements and the occurrence of strokes.
Best Niacin Supplements
Life Extension No Flush Niacin
This supplement contains niacin in the form of inositol hexanicotinate, a no-flush form of niacin. This company claims that this product offers all of the benefits of niacin without the flushing that often occurs with niacin supplements. It comes highly rated by the community.
This product contains 500 mg of niacinamide. It is non-GMO, gluten-free, and is a no-flush form of niacin. It is affordable and comes highly rated, as well.
Doctor’s Best Time Release Niacin
This product provides niacin in an 8-hour extended-release form without the skin flushing that often occurs with other niacin supplements. It contains 500 mg of nicotinic acid in each capsule and comes highly rated.
Niacin Supplement Alternatives
Most niacin supplements are safe to take; however, you should consult with your doctor before using any. It’s especially important to note that niacin supplements are often used to reduce cholesterol levels, and as a result, you should speak with a physician to see if niacin supplements are a good fit for you. The following are dietary sources of niacin that you can incorporate instead of supplements:
- Chicken breast
- Smoked salmon
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat products
- Green peas
Niacin Supplements And Your Overall Health
Niacin (vitamin B3) is a very important B vitamin that our body requires for proper functioning. Although it is not stored in our body and excess niacin is often released, we are able to get sufficient niacin through dietary sources. Niacin is crucial for a healthy lipid panel in the body and also plays a role in skin health.
Niacin supplements are often prescribed to patients looking to lower cholesterol levels in the body and is typically coupled with a statin drug. As a result, consulting with a doctor before taking niacin is essential, especially as there are many side effects and forms of niacin, some more effective than others.