Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is a potent B complex vitamin with a number of fascinating uses. Since the 1950s, researchers have known that niacin has the ability to lower levels of LDL lipoprotein—also known as the “bad” cholesterol—in the blood. It also increases levels of HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and lowers triglyceride levels. These changes all generally improve the lipid panel.
How Vitamin B3 Helps Your Health
B3 has been studied for decades, and trials have shown that niacin supplementation may reduce atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries); lower your risk of a second heart attack (after a first has occurred); and treat a condition called pellagra. Supplements of B3 can also help relieve arthritis symptoms, improve cognitive function, treat skin conditions like psoriasis, and reduce the risk of some skin cancers.
Deficiency in niacin leads to unpleasant side effects, such as depression, skin problems, mental fog, fatigue, and memory loss.
Getting the Right Amount of Niacin
Finding the sweet spot of niacin supplementation is important. It is a potent vitamin. Taking too much can cause health issues, such as liver damage, gastrointestinal problems, and glucose intolerance. Too much niacin can also lead to an uncomfortable (though generally not dangerous) condition called the “niacin flush”, where the skin gets warm, red, and itchy.
You can obtain niacin through your diet. Common sources include chicken, peanuts, lentils, salmon, and beef. You can also take supplements, such as Xjus, which provides coverage for other B complex vitamins.