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 vitamin B3 benefits in protecting your heart
Four Vitamin B3 Benefits
It’s one of the best nutrients for raising 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 percent 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.
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 vitamin B3 benefits included reducing LDL cholesterol by 10 percent to 25 percent.
Niacin was also shown to reduce triglycerides, which is the fat in the bloodstream linked to arterial disease, by 20 percent to 50 percent.
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 for full vitamin B3 benefits 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, and 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 nonflush 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?