Supplemental niacin has been shown in countless studies to decrease several cardiovascular risk factors, notably those related to serum lipid and cholesterol imbalances. Among its benefits, niacin is the single most effective known clinical agent for increasing HDL cholesterol, can inhibit atherosclerosis progression and is known to decrease circulating levels of free fatty acids following a fat-containing meal.
Although affordable and readily available, niacin is not always used as a first line therapy for patients with hyperlipidemia because of the associated niacin flush response. Flushing is not harmful but may negatively impact patient compliance in cases of hypersensitivity or if poorly understood. The good news is that for most people, flushing diminishes after one week of niacin use as tolerance develops.
Flush-free forms of niacin such as niacinamide are useful for other conditions but they do not help to manage cholesterol and lipid levels and do little to reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Most patients will not flush at intakes of less than 35 mg niacin, but some will. Educating patients about the benefits of taking niacin and letting them know what to expect from “the flush” can help improve compliance, and hence outcomes, long term.
Click here to download The Niacin Flush: Is it Worth It?, an article summarizing niacin benefits and risks, mechanisms of action and simple steps your patients can take to minimize flushing.
By Diana Allen, MS, CNS; Product Development Manager
05/06/2014 – Moss Nutrition Digest #2