Uses For Niacin: Cholesterol, Acne, Drug Tests, And More

Suddenly niacin is everywhere – it seems that niacin is the hot new miracle cure for just about everything!  Here we will evaluate the various claims and help you decide whether or not you should be taking a niacin supplement.

Cholesterol

At the 2009 annual American Heart Association’s annual meeting, a paper was presented which was subsequently published in the well regarded New England Journal of Medicine.  A time release form of niacin combined with a statin was demonstrated to reduce arterial plaques better than the prescription drug Zetia.

Conclusion: True.  But check with your doctor first, as the winning form of niacin wasn’t a simple over the counter vitamin supplement.

Alzheimer’s

The Rush Institute for Health Aging in Chicago published a study in 2004 which linked consumption of niacin to reduced rates of Alzheimer’s and mental decline.  According to their results, those who consume a lot of niacin lower their risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 70%.  And the more niacin present in your diet, the less your cognitive decline in later years.

Conclusion: Maybe.  No other studies have confirmed this link.  But a diet rich in legumes and leafy dark green vegetables is certainly good for you!

Acne

Many people have found that applying a topical cream containing niacin is helpful in controlling their acne.  However, the side effects of niacin usage (whether oral or topical) can include dry itchy skin and skin rashes. 

Conclusion: it’s worth a try, but keep an eye out for skin related side effects.

Drug Tests

There is an urban legend that taking enough niacin or B3 can “flush your system” or detox your blood before you have to take a drug test.  This is not only untrue but dangerous.  Every year people abuse niacin and end up in the emergency room for a niacin overdose, which includes itching, rashes, heart palpitations, vomiting, and dizziness.

 Conclusion: Nope.  Not even remotely.

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Phrenism 6 years ago

I've also heard promising things on niacin (Nicotinic acid) in treatment of schizophrenia, great read

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