Vitamin B3--A Powerful Ally In
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Last updated January 9, 2017 (originally published May 22, 2010)

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist



High cholesterol is a chronic health problem in America,
affecting more than 102 million people, according to
estimates from the American Heart Association.  Now,
research has found that a common vitamin --Vitamin B3--
might just be the stealth weapon we all need to get our
cholesterol under control.  


Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, comes in two forms,
nicotinic acid and nicotinamide, both of which are found in
food. Vitamin B3 or niacin is a water-soluble vitamin. You
need it in your diet every day because the body cannot store
it and will dispose of it in urine.

Vitamin B3 is found in many foods including yeast, meat,
fish, milk, eggs, green vegetables, and cereal grains. The
vitamin helps our bodies produce energy from food, it keeps
the nervous and digestive system in good condition and it
has one other vital function --- Vitamin B3 can help you
lower your cholesterol levels.

Niacin --- also known as Vitamin B3 --- dramatically reduces
the levels of cholesterol and triglyceride in your blood.


We all have cholesterol, in every cell in our body, but it
causes problems when high levels of the substance build up
to cause fatty deposits. Eventually these fatty deposits block
the arteries, stopping oxygen-rich blood from getting to the
heart and the brain.

High levels of cholesterol can cause heart attack and stroke.
Niacin reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) and raises good
cholesterol (HDL) in the blood. Large trials in the 1970s, in
particular a six-year study of more than 1,100 people, found
that niacin significantly decreased total cholesterol, LDL
cholesterol and triglycerides and it raised good HDL
cholesterol levels by up to 35 percent.

How Much Vitamin B3 Do You Need to Take to Lower
Cholesterol?




























When considering your intake of Vitamin B3 as part of a
normal healthy diet, the Food Standards Agency
recommends 17mg a day for men and 13mg a day for
women, gained from foods.  


The Food and Nutrition Board recommends a maximum of
6,000mg daily (either along or combined with other agents)
as a treatment against cardiovascular disease. The American
Heart Association advises that supplemental niacin should be
monitored by a medical professional for optimum results.
Start with a low dose such as 50mg three times a day and
increase to 100mg three times a day.

Vitamin B3 Works Better Than Certain Medications to
Improver Cholesterol


A 2000 study from the Archives of Internal Medicine
(Guyton, et al) compared an intake of niacin to
pharmaceutical drug gemfibrozil (Lopid). The study looked
at 399 male and female subjects who had low levels of good
HDL cholesterol and triglycerides less than 400mg/l. Levels
of niacin were increased over the course of the study to
peak at 2,000mg nightly for eight weeks.


The Vitamin B3 worked twice as effective as the medication.
2,000mg of niacin increased HDL (good cholesterol) levels
by over 25 percent compared to an increase of 13.3 percent
with gemfibrozil.

Moreover, adding niacin to a second drug such as a statin
may increase the cholesterol-fighting effects.


In a 2001 study published in the New England Journal of
Medicine, researchers discovered that combining niacin with
the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin improved the
clinical outcome among 160 patients with coronary heart
disease and low levels of good HDL cholesterol. The study
was conducted over three years, beginning with 250mg of
slow-release niacin twice a day, increased to 1,000mg twice
a day over four weeks.

Here's the amazing news. The combined therapy using
Vitamin B3 reduced the rate of major cardiac events by
90
percent
compared with patients taking a placebo.

The combined treatment also increased levels of HDL
cholesterol by 26 percent and the effects were greater than
those from simvastatin on its own. You should discuss
adding Vitamin B3(niacin) to statin medication with your
health provider as there may be side effects that you can
avoid through proper medical supervision.

Foods Rich in Vitamin B3

The best sources of Vitamin B3 tend to come from foods that
are also rich in protein. In general, meat and fish products
are better sources of the vitamin than plants. Red meat is
high in Vitamin B3. An 85g serving of lean beef contains
14.9mg of niacin.

Beef liver and kidney are also good providers. Poultry such
as chicken and turkey are good sources. Half a breast of
chicken contains 14.7mg while half a duck has 11.2mg. Fish
too; swordfish is rich in Vitamin B3 with 12.5mg per piece
and half a fillet of halibut provides 11.3mg. A similar sized
salmon fillet has 10.3mg. 3oz of canned tuna (in water)
contributes 11.2mg to your daily intake.



Yeast is particularly high in Vitamin B3. The best form is
brewers, or bakers, yeast which contains 2.8mg per 7g
serving.

Certain breakfast cereals and breads are fortified with
Vitamin B3. Fortified breakfast cereals contain between 19 to
20mg on average per serving. One cup of wheat flour
contains 10.3mg. Removal of bran in the milling process to
produce white flour reduces the niacin content of this food
when compared to the whole wheat variety.

The body also makes niacin from an amino acid called
tryptophan. Foods that are a good source of tryptophan
such as eggs, milk, cheese and yoghurt also boost your
levels of Vitamin B3.

Further good sources of the
Vitamin B3 include potatoes
(one jacket potato has 4.4mg) and whole wheat pasta
(150g cooked weighs in at 3.5mg of niacin).

Finally, Vitamin B3  has shown promising results in
improving poor circulation generally throughout the body.
Just remember to check with your doctor first, if you are
using medications for
high blood pressure or high
cholesterol.


Side Effects of Vitamin B3

The most common side effects of taking Vitamin B3 are

"niacin flush"--a reddening of your skin, often accompanied
by itching under the skin

headache

blurred vision

increased risk for liver damage

dizziness and

upset stomach.



You can reduce the risk of experiencing niacin flush by using
a time release form on the Vitamin.

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