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Archive for January, 2012

Niacin – the best “drug” for lowering cholesterol

Monday, January 30, 2012 @ 03:01 PM
posted by Therese

Vitamin B3 (niacin) is the most effective substance, even better than statins, for both lowering LDL cholesterol, but importantly raising HDL. Niacin is usually given in doses of 1,000mg to 2,000mg, in a non-blushing or slow-release form since, in high doses, it causes vasodilation (blushing which can be diminished by taking with food).

There are many good reasons to supplement high dose niacin, which is both available on prescription and in health food stores. According to a major review of what works in the New England Journal of Medicine, “the most effective way” to lower cholesterol is with the B vitamin niacin (also called B3), not statin drugs.

A number of studies show that it is effective not only in raising the good HDL by as much as 35%, but also in reducing LDL by up to 25%. By way of comparison, statins only raise HDL by between 2% and 15%. Niacin also reduces levels of two other markers for heart disease. One study from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, reported a 35 percent decrease in lipoprotein, a marker for heart disease risk, after 26 weeks on niacin. Other studies have shown the same thing and a recent review concludes that no drugs really do this effectively and that ‘the strongest effects are seen with niacin at high doses.’

Niacin was actually discovered to lower cholesterol back in the 1960′s, as a ‘side-effect’ of giving high doses to those with schizophrenia as a highly effective therapy pioneered by the late Dr Abram Hoffer. So, it has only taken 50 years for this discovery to come to market, largely because drug companies have explored ways of combining it with substances, or processes that effectively ‘slow release’ it, which can be patented. You can buy straight niacin for very little, and while taking 500mg twice a day will produce major flushing for the first couple of days, the blushing soon diminishes as long as you keep going. A recent big review of niacin trials found that because it had a “markedly beneficial” effect on a particularly dangerous combo of risk factors – a low level of the good cholesterol HDL and high levels of triglyceride fats in the blood – it might be particularly useful in treating people heading towards diabetes.

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*M.D. Ashen and R.S. Blumentahl, ‘Clinical Practice. Low HDL cholesterol levels’, New England Journal of Medicine, 2005