Niacin is the generic name of a B vitamin which is often sold under the brand names Niacin SR, B-3-50, Niaspan ER, B3-500-GR, and Slo-Niacin. This vitamin occurs naturally in animals and plants and is also supplemented into many types of food. Niacin is available as a nutritional and vitamin supplement.
The most common use for niacin supplements is for the treatment of a deficiency of natural niacin within the body. It may also be used for lowering the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the bloodstream. Some patients who are at risk of a heart attack may benefit from niacin supplements, as may some individuals who have already had a heart attack and who have high cholesterol. Niacin may be recommended for the treatment of atherosclerosis (coronary artery disease).
Niacin should be taken according to the directions of a doctor. It should be taken in the amount and at the times recommended by the doctor for proper health or treatment of a specific condition. The directions should be closely followed in order to ensure the safety of its use as well as its efficacy.
Typically, unless otherwise instructed by a doctor, Niacin is taken before bed with a snack that is low in fat.
Though Niacin is a vitamin, it does come with the risk of certain side effects when taken as a supplement. The most common is flushing, which can include itching, redness, warmth, or a tingling feeling beneath the skin. The side effects of Niacin worsen when its use is combined with the consumption of alcohol or hot beverages shortly after the supplement was taken. Over time, with the consistent use of this supplement, the side effects will usually diminish.
Niacin supplements should be taken with a full eight ounce glass of water that is either cold or cool. It should not be taken with a warm liquid because it will increase the risk of side effects and will worsen those that do occur. Any Niacin pill should not be crushed, broken, opened, or chewed – this is especially important in the case of an extended-release tablet – as it will cause too much of the substance into the body at once instead of a slow release over time. Moreover, the extended-release capsules and tablets of Niacin contain an elevated strength of the medicine. Make sure that you are taking only the proper dose of Niacin for the type of tablet that is being used.