Niacin is no doubt better than anything else for improving the entire lipid profile. B3 improves every
single parameter of the entire lipid panel. There is flat out nothing else that can do this….well except for hard core exercise and a strict low starch diet.
But taking niacin has some drawbacks. To do the job it takes 2,000 to 5,000 milligrams…so 4 to 10
capsules per day. But the main reluctance for taking it is the remarkable flush one feels after taking it.
This is due to blood vessels opening and blood rushing to the surface. Your skin feels warm and starts
to itch. Your natural endorphins are also being released at the same time so you may also feel a
pleasant calmness. Many of us welcome this as a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Without being warned of this warm, itchy feeling; some have been known to report to the E.R
alarmed that they are having an allergic reaction. Of course this causes a chuckle among the E.R. staff.
Still, no one feels comfortable taking a large dose of niacin from the get go. A small dose won’t be
unpleasant but a large dose could wake you up scratching.
The way this works is that you should start with a low dose of niacin to begin with. Then as you
become accustomed to the feeling you can increase the dose.
What happens at the starting dose is that over several doses you feel less and less of the warm, fuzzy
itch until you don’t feel anything at all. Then you can increase by 500mg per dose and feel the warm,
fuzzy itch again after each dose until you no longer feel the itch. You slowly increase this way until
you are at your goal dose.
Some reach their therapeutic goal at 2,000 m.g. per day. But others need the maximum benefit which
is 5,000 m.g. per day.
When you see your lipid profile after a few months of therapy, it’s always significantly better. But
month by month at the same dose of niacin, your profile keeps getting better.
There are several things you can do to decrease the beginners flush:
Niaspan. This is a Rx form of B3 that is timed release. This decreases the flush. It is taken at
bedtime so you may be asleep for the warm, itchy flush. The dose is increased every few weeks until
you to get used to each dosage. The maximum dose is reached (2,000m.g.)
Timed release niacin can only be taken up to 2,000m.g. And isn’t as potent as plain niacin but may
get you to your goal. More importantly for many people is that it gets them used to B3 so they can
gradually switch over to the cheaper, more potent, regular B3….and continue titrating on up to
5,000mg per day if needed.
There are several techniques for reducing the itch in the beginning:
As the itch is caused by histamine release we can use anti-histamines like Zertec if taken in the A.M.
and Benadryl if taken at night. You can also try an aspirin with the niacin dose. Another option is to
take the niacin with food, apple sauce or apple pectin. The apple sauce or apple pectin slows down
absorption just like taking it with food does. Taking Niaspan does the slow absorption thing
automatically which is what makes Niaspan easier than taking it with food or apple pectin.
Many of us realize the histamine release caused by niacin is natural and desirable…the associated
endorphin (natural morphine) release can actually be interpreted as a pleasant experience.
And there is nothing other than hard core exercise or diet that is more powerful for improving your