It breaks the glucose molecules to release energy needed for carrying out our daily activities. Niacin also keeps our eyes, hair, nervous system and gastrointestinal tract in good health.
Niacin increases HDL, lowers LDL
Studies have shown that this B vitamin could increase the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or the good cholesterol in the bloodstream. High level of HDL helps to lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or the bad cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with heart diseases and stroke.
Niacin could be taken alone or along with other cholesterol reducing drugs to restore the normal lipid profile of the blood. For healthy living, the HDL level in the blood should remain above 60 mg/dL and the LDL level should be below 100 mg/dL.
Health experts often consider niacin as the most effective cholesterol lowering medication. Regular intake of niacin rich foods and supplements might increase the high-density lipoprotein by 15 to 35 percent. This important member of the vitamin B complex family is also capable of lowering the bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
Sources of niacin
Niacin is available in numerous foods. Eggs, fish, poultry, lean meats, dairy products and nuts are rich sources of niacin. Niacin is even available in multivitamin supplements. However, you should not take over-the-counter niacin supplements without consulting your physician. High doses of niacin present in the niacin supplements might produce adverse side effects.
Side effects of niacin supplements
Intake of high doses of niacin supplements could cause flushing of the skin. The redness of the skin usually lasts for a brief period. It might heal naturally. Often doctors prescribe aspirin for curing flushing of the skin.
To cure flushing speedily, you should avoid hot drinks and alcohol. Besides flushing of the skin, high doses of niacin could cause headache, dizziness, stomach upset, liver problems and high blood sugar. To lower the side effect of niacin supplements, these dietary supplements should be taken with food.