Niacin Side Effects – The Truth on Using Niacin for Cholesterol
So you're wondering about niacin side effects and if there's 'more to the story' you haven't been told, right?
As you probably already know, a lot of doctors are starting to suggest (dare I say "prescribe") niacin to their patients to help lower cholesterol.
I'll share some interesting findings on the niacin cholesterol relationship in just a minute, but first … let's get right to the heart of this…
Is niacin a good alternative vs. using the cholesterol lowering statin drugs?
Look, I think you know how I feel about statin drugs … almost ANYTHING outside of cyanide is good compared to a statin drug.
I HATE these drugs with a passion and it's a mission in life to help a million people steer clear of statin drugs and their side effects.
We don't need to go deep into that conversation today, but yeah … if your only choice was between niacin and a statin … take niacin. (By default.)
But what you probably haven't been told about niacin is this…
You need a VERY high niacin dosage before it's shown to have any effect on lowering cholesterol.
In fact, you need as much as 1-3 full grams of niacin a day before it would make a dent in your cholesterol numbers.
FYI: A common amount per niacin capsule is 100mg, or 1/10th to 1/30th of the recommended amount. So you would need to take between 10 to 30 capsules a day to get to the recommended dose that will make an impact.
Now granted, niacin is cheap enough that taking 3 grams a day could still be very affordable. Although 10-30 capsules isn't exactly convenient.
But Here's The Real Problem with High Dosage Niacin…
Once you get up into that 1-3 grams a day range that's needed to provide cholesterol reduction benefits, you'll run into some of the very same side effects you would if you were taking a statin drug.
Most people are well aware of the niacin flush that's very common and accepted as a harmless side effect. But did you know that high dose niacin has been directly linked to liver toxicity as well?
The Mayo Clinic and The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University are just two highly acclaimed research facilities that are warning of the potential dangers of high dosage niacin usage.
Common Niacin Side Effects Include…
- Liver toxicity
- Worsened glycemic control in diabetics
- Aggravated ulcers
- Irregular heart beat
- Increased risk of gout
- Liver inflammation
- Increased liver enzyme production
Here's what the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State has to say:
An excerpt from Oregon State's findings:
"Although it is a nutrient, at the pharmacologic dose required for cholesterol-lowering effects, the use of nicotinic acid (niacin) should be approached as if it were a drug. Individuals should only undertake cholesterol-lowering therapy with nicotinic acid under the supervision of a qualified health care provider in order to minimize potentially adverse effects and maximize therapeutic benefits."
Let me talk for a minute about the last item on the side effect list above: the over-production of liver enzymes…
Do you have any idea how serious that is?…
Your liver can only produce a finite number of enzymes. Once the liver starts cranking out too many enzymes – well, you're basically shortening the life of your liver.
And when you shorten the life of your liver … that's not exactly great news for your life span, now is it?
On one hand, I'm encouraged that some doctors are recommending a nutrient instead of a drug. But I'm still scratching my head at niacin being that choice. Especially when you can lower cholesterol naturally and safely with other supplements.
The research on niacin has been very clear. It takes quite a bit … 1-3 grams a day … before it's effective at lowering cholesterol. And at that dosage requirement, any niacin benefits come with risky and dangerous side effects. Some of which are eerily similar to statin drugs.
There are some legitimate niacin uses when taken in small doses. However, due to the long list (and serious nature) of niacin side effects, I do not recommend the use of niacin for cholesterol reduction.
By the way…
In case you're wondering, niaspan side effects are not only similar, but usually more severe because of the way it's delivered into your system.