Along with diet and exercise, treatment to lower cholesterol may include the B vitamin niacin combined with drugs such as statins. Niacin is available by prescription, over the counter and as a dietary supplement. (The dietary supplement form is not recommended for lowering cholesterol.) Take niacin only under a doctor’s guidance.
Niacin helps lower triglyceride levels and increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol, which carries fat away from arteries. It also helps reduce the production of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
Some formulations cause skin flushing, which can be controlled by changing the dosage or time of day taken, taking niacin with food, or trying a different drug combination. Large doses of niacin over a long time can cause liver damage. Because of possible side effects, work closely with your doctor.
The dietary supplement niacin should not be used to lower cholesterol. It is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
© 2014 Main Line Health