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Niacin Side Effects: The Risks and Benefits of Vitamin B3

niacin-side-effectsChances are, you’ve probably heard of niacin. After all, it’s included on the list of 20 to 80 essential nutrients that humans need to include in their diet. But do you know what niacin really does inside the body? And do you know anything about niacin side effects?

For starters, let’s review a little bit about the actual makeup of niacin. Without getting too scientific, niacin is an organic compound, which means it is a carbon-containing compound associated with living organisms. Niacin is one of the components that make up vitamin B3 complex. In short, niacin is important because it helps keep the body in general good health.

Why Do People Take Niacin?

Some people use niacin to help address health challenges. For example, studies show that niacin may support healthy cholesterol levels already in a normal range. According to the Mayo Clinic, niacin can raise HDL cholesterol levels (that’s the good cholesterol that helps your heart) by more than 30 percent. Some clinicians believe that good HDL cholesterol can lower bad LDL cholesterol.

There’s also limited evidence that niacin may help protect neurological function and provide support for memory loss and promote healthy-looking skin.

On top of those potential health benefits, a lack of niacin can lead to pellagra. Pellegra is caused by a deficiency of niacin and vitamin B, and it can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, dermatitis or a scaly rash on the skin, dementia, and forgetfulness, or in extreme cases death. Pellagra is rare in developed countries, as many of the foods we eat either naturally contain these vitamins or they are fortified with the nutrients while being created.

Niacin Side Effects

If you think you may benefit from taking niacin supplements, it’s important to consult a doctor first. In high doses, niacin side effects may be dangerous. Keep in mind that eating a diet rich in niacin probably won’t cause any side effects. Typically, high levels of niacin are caused by certain medications or using niacin supplements. If you’re looking to eat more niacin-rich foods, here are some suggestions:

  • Beef, poultry, and lamb
  • Seafood, such as tuna
  • Peanut butter
  • Almonds
  • Lentils
  • Whole grains
  • Mushrooms
  • Mangoes

If you are using niacin supplements, it’s important that you be aware of the potential side effects and symptoms associated with high doses of this nutrient. The most common symptom of niacin overdosing is commonly called a niacin flush. This is a burning or tingling sensation that occurs in the face or chest, along with red or flushed skin.

It’s also possible that the high doses of niacin required to address high cholesterol may lead to liver damage or stomach ulcers. Other studies have shown that some people may be prone to muscle damage, skin rashes, gout, and other skin-related problems while taking niacin.

On top of these niacin side effects, it’s possible that high doses of niacin can cause a bad interaction with some medications, causing them to be less effective. If you are thinking of taking niacin supplements, it’s important to talk to your doctor first. While there are some potential niacin side effects, proper dosing can lead to plenty of potential health benefits.

Once you get the green light from your doctor, take a look at our niacin supplements. We offer several products that may support your health goals, including pure niacin tablets and other products that blend niacin with other ingredients to help achieve a particular health goal.

Do you use niacin? Share your tips and experiences in the comments!