4 Things Most Cardiologists Won't Tell You About Niacin
If I had to pick one nutrient I receive the most questions about, it’s niacin (vitamin B3). That’s probably because many doctors, including cardiologists, are still in the dark about the heart-protective powers of this single nutrient.
Here’s what your doctor should be telling you about niacin:
1. It’s the only nutrient that can raise “good” HDL cholesterol. A research roundup completed by an esteemed colleague of mine, Mark Houston, M.D. from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, revealed that niacin increased HDL levels by 10 to 30 percent. Higher HDL levels leads to plaque regression. In fact, the higher your HDL levels, the greater the protection in your blood vessels.
2. It also does an excellent job of lowering the small, dense LDL cholesterol particles that can clog your arteries. In his research, Dr. Houston also found that niacin reduced LDL cholesterol by 10 to 25 percent.
3. Niacin was also shown to reduce triglycerides, which is the fat in the bloodstream linked to arterial disease, by 20 to 50 percent.
4. Niacin is the only nutrient that decreases dangerous Lp(a) cholesterol particles. Fish oil can help neutralize the pro-clotting influence of Lp(a), but doesn't reduce it.
How much niacin should you take? My recommendation is that you start with 250 mg of niacin three times daily, and slowly work up to 1–3 grams in divided doses three times a day.
When you take niacin, you’ll likely experience a tingly, pins-and-needles, sometimes hot, flushing of the skin. This typically lasts no more than a half-hour to an hour. The higher the initial dose, the greater the initial flushing effect. Some people use the non-flush form of niacin because they are uncomfortable with the flushing effect, but it doesn’t give you the same vascular benefits.
How it’s your turn: Do you take niacin and has it worked for you?
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Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy. More About Dr. Sinatra
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