Can Niacin Fight Heart Disease?

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN

Niacin is one of the best kept secrets in the field of medicine, and we’d like to help put an end to that as soon as we possibly can.

Why? Because higher doses of niacin have been shown to maintain blood lipids better than conventional drugs and even help prevent heart attacks.

Below, we’ll explain why niacin is just about one of the best supplements you can take for your heart.

Niacin Increases HDL and Changes LDL Particle Size

Niacin is best known for its ability to increase HDL, a lipoprotein that carries excess cholesterol out of arteries. Having healthy HDL levels is very important for optimal heart health.

In research studies, mean doses of 2.25 grams have been shown to increase HDL by as much as 35%.1 This is quite impressive since most traditional drugs aren’t as effective in raising HDL levels.

Niacin also favorably changes the size of LDL particles. LDL is a lipoprotein that carries cholesterol to the heart and arteries. These particles come in different sizes and each carry a different risk for heart disease.

Larger more buoyant LDL particles are more favorable than smaller particles, which can easily penetrate arterial walls and contribute to plaque. Niacin supports the production of large buoyant LDL particles.2

Niacin also lowers triglycerides. In one study, 1 gram of niacin taken three times a day reduced levels by an average of 26%.3

Niacin Prevents Heart Attacks

In a study called the Coronary Drug Project, taking niacin was found to reduce the incidence of non-fatal heart attacks and strokes by 27% and 26% respectively.3, 4 The participants studied were heart attack survivors.

These results make sense when you take into account that niacin works in several ways to help you maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

Now ask yourself this: Is there any drug on the market that does all of the things we’ve mentioned above?

Niacin Precautions

Is niacin therapy right for you? We can’t determine that but your doctor can. Higher doses may be appropriate for people with lipid disorders or heart disease.

Are higher doses of niacin dangerous? If taken properly, they shouldn’t be … but it’s certainly not risk free. Again, ask your doctor!

One of the potential side effects of therapy is increased liver enzymes (especially the slow-release preparations). Make sure you monitor your liver function with your doctor.

Higher doses may cause an uncomfortable reaction called the niacin flush. A person may experience itching, redness, and hot flashes. Some describe it like “being on fire.”

Although the niacin flush may seem like a horrible allergic reaction, it really isn’t. It’s caused when your blood vessels dilate and send blood rushing to the surface of your skin.

This reaction is actually the main reason people stop niacin therapy, and we’d rather not have it happen to you.

How to Avoid the “Niacin Flush”

Here are a couple of tips to prevent the niacin flush from happening:

  • Take a full glass of water with your dose and avoid spicy foods.
  • Start therapy with lower doses of niacin (250 mg) and work your way up after a period of several weeks to higher doses. This helps your body get used to the niacin.
  • Take quercetin several hours before taking the niacin or take a baby aspirin prior to use. Both of them can help to minimize the flush.

What About You?

Has niacin therapy ever worked for you? What did you think of niacin before reading this post? Please share your thoughts in the comments!


  1. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2000 Mar.;35(3):640-646.
  2. Curr Vasc Pharmacol. 2010 Nov.;8(6):820-830.
  3. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1986;8(6):1245-1255.
  4. J. Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2010 Jun.;15(2):158-166.


Heal City said...

Thanks for sharing. Really Interesting. Great Informative. I'll share this with my friends and acquaintances.

LifeExtension said...

Heal City - Thanks! We're glad it was helpful. :-)

Anonymous said...

Been using Slo-Niacin 500mg AM & 500mg PM for almost 3 years. HDL 91, small dense LDL particles are 10% of total. Triglycerides 40. Works well with a low carb, high fat diet. Chol/HDL ratio is 3.45.

"Niacin: This is also why niacin works in these diseases because it is a ketone mimic drug. Why? Niacin also known as vitamin B3, nicotinic acid and vitamin PP, is an organic compound with the formula C6H5NO2 and one of the 40 to 80 essential human nutrients. In fact, when niacin deficiency is present it is one of 5 vitamins that causes a pandemic disease condition called pellagra. But it can be used to bypass a “broken” cytochrome 1 when mis-folding (due to a chronic ATP deficiency, think EMF 7). Why is understanding this hardcore biochemistry important? It underpins why understanding precision that QED requires is paramount in semiconduction. Without the proper protein folding you lose quantum tunneling of electrons and you lose the ability slowly to remain an omnivore. This is where QED takes us……….Vitamin B3 can help activate PPP when we are broken for some reason when we are ketotic from a dietary stand point using vast amounts of coherent water as I laid out in the quantum electron blog post. The PPP is responsible for making the chemical rings found in all human hormones. They become unstable as well when intracellular water is lost because cholesterol is a polar molecule as well and does well in a lipid and water environment to act. Its action at receptor sites is critically important in how the hormones work in the nucleus to turn on and off our epigenome."

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous - We appreciate your feedback! Thanks

Anonymous said...

Well, I was taking 500mg twice a day (when I could remember) but last time I went to doc she said to increase to 2 500mgs twice a day or 2000mg total... after a few days I started to feel weird.. get up in the morning and feel like I wanted to go back to bed, like I couldn't keep my eyes open.. then my face felt like sandpaper... whew, I stopped all together.. guess I'll go back to the 500mg 2 timea s day. I do have heart disease.. had a 90% blockage in my right anterior lobe at age 61.. my cholesterol is good, my hdl is good, but I have some bad ldl particles. I get my blood tested every 6 months.. taking 10mg crestor and your endothelial supplement... what amount do you recommend taking?

Anonymous said...

I thought the niacin flush was caused by the release of histamin gathered in the organism and once the levels reduced, the flushing stops ? Great information. Thank you so much. So much better than statins....

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous - Before you make any changes to your regimen, we suggest you work with your doctor.

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous- Yes, the flushing reaction can be mediated by histamine. This link explains the mechanisms involved in flushing more extensively:

Thanks for reading and commenting! We appreciate your feedback.

A Jolly said...

What are your thoughts on the AIM-HIGH study, showing that despite improvements in lipid scores, outcomes did not improve -

LifeExtension said...

A Jolly - Good question! There are many factors that contribute to heart disease and lipids are just a small part of the picture. It takes a multi-modal approach to tackle heart disease successfully and focusing solely on lipids is not going to do it- most of the time.

Stephen in Orlando said...

It seems that from this research, niacin would be a more effective form of medication than statins. So, I am surprised that I have not heard more about it. Though, I would ask if there have been any studies which looked at the effects niacin had with with patients who exercised regularly. Given the recent studies conducted with statins, I feel like positive review in this area would be a big boost in support of niacin.

Robert in Anaheim said...

I think that Stephen makes a really good point here. The latest research has certainly supported the benefits to be gained from staying active. With the latest news surrounding statins on the negative side, there is a significant opportunity to teach more people about niacin.

LifeExtension said...

Robert in Anaheim - Yes, and you could help by spreading the word! :-)

Anonymous said...

Recent trials have been done with Niaspan- a combination drug to slowly release Niacin that avoids flushing associated with use of Niacin in high doses. It is well known for more than 40 years that slow release Niacin creates complications in Lever. and most known cases were due to slow release preparations.
Abundant literature is available on the net that shows that Inositol compound of Niacin is slow release without flushing and without side effects in high doses taken for a prolonged period of time.
I think present trials with Niaspan are waste of money and done with a sinister purpose to blame Niacin for complications, where as the blame lies on slow release preparations


Anonymous said...

Does non-flush niacin not work as well as the flush kind? Is the flushing a big part of why it works? Been using flush free for years along with red yeast rice & garlic for my cholesterol.

Life Extension said...

Anonymous- The niacin flush is caused when your blood vessels dilate and send blood rushing to the surface of your skin. Keep in mind that flush-free niacin has not been shown to be as effective as regular niacin. Here’s more info:

Pauline Shewaga said...

Arterial fibrillation. I am on a high dose of warfarin. Am also taking non flush niacin, also do my own recipe of Hawthorne berry tincture. Any thing you can offer re these? Thanks. Had a wonderful Dr. Abram Hoffer( deceased) who took up to 3000+ per day...

Pauline Shewaga said...

Had a wonderful Dr. Abram Hoffer, who used as much as 3000-5000 per day . I have arterial fibrillation and use 7 - 8 warfarin per day also use Hawthorne berry tincture.which I make myself with the berries and vodka. Any thing you can inform me? Would be appreciated...thanks. P.

Life Extension said...

Pauline Shewaga - Take a look at this link for additional suggestions:

Anonymous said...

You could elaborate on the different forms of niacin.

Nicotinic acid is the form you refer to.

Niacinamide is also widely used, but has no flush, nor does it work on cholesterol issues

Inositol hexanicotinate that has no flush but work in much the same way as nicotinic acid

Thanks to Abram Hoffer for learning about niacin.

Julia Cynthhia Kent said...

I have been taking Niacin (at the recommendation of my Dr) for about 30 years. I am in excellent health, do eat properly, exercise every day, swim every day, walk every day, and dance twice a week. I have so much energy, I attribute it to Niacin, and my I am in my 70s, feel very lucky I was given this information about this roduct all those years ago....

Life Extension said...

Julia Cynthhia Kent - That's awesome! Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice that the AIM-HIGH control group used 150mg niacin as "placebo"? WTF? Reminds me of allegedly negative chelation trials where the placebo group "just" had IV C and other nutrients without the EDTA.
And for niacin to blunt the known associations of the atherogenic lipid profile with CVD risk is mighty, and there WAS a "trend" to reducing endpoints in the treated highest risk group anyway ( HR 0.74), even though the overall event rate was not significantly different compared to "placebo"in this trial. Why weren't LEF all over this like a rash? Or did I miss it?

acjitsu said...

Does niacin dilate all blood vessels or just the capillaries? The link above, only mentions the capillaries.

Life Extension said...

acjitsu - Niacin dilates arteries too.

Patty Shipsey said...

It's all great, but for how long does the flush last? And it will resolve or reduce over time, right? Today I took my first dose and this is extremely uncomfortable. I will be buying the aspirin today!

Life Extension said...

Patty Shipsey - The niacin flush can last for half an hour for some (it varies). But with time the reaction diminishes. Starting off with smaller doses may also help to minimize this reaction.

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