By Carl J Grasso. New studies place doubt on the benefits of Niacin as a means to reduce likelihood of suffering a stroke.
Niacin, is a food vitamin B3 with a complex compound of nicotinamide, nicotinic acid, and several active enzymatic forms. This has been known, since the early 1950’s to lower cholesterol level mainly triglycerides. As the decades pass and the science gets better, we discover that what we previously thought was sometimes false.
New studies have shown that niacin does NOT prevent the risk of heart attack or stroke. It was known in the 50’s and 60’s that niacin had an effect on lipid levels in the blood, but this now seems irrelevant when statins are present. Statins are drugs that lower cholesterol.
The studies were performed through a joint effort of the National Institute of Health and Merck, a large pharmaceutical company. Each entity independently studied whether or not Niacin had any effect on people with high cholesterol. The conclusion was that both studies failed to show that niacin did anything to prevent strokes in this population.
The studies did find that niacin sometimes causes serious side effects. In a NIH study of Americans, the NIH observed that skin severe irritation can result from unmonitored administration of niacin. In the international study done by Merck, more serious effects were observed including muscle damage, diarrhea and ulcers, internal bleeding, gout, and other serious skin problems. It was reported that that some patients in Merck’s international study withdrew from the research because of the pain they suffered.
While it is accepted that people need a certain amount of Niacin, it is obtained from dairy, poultry and beef. Any decision regarding whether to take niacin supplements or not should be carefully considered.
Krumholz, Dr. Harlan (2014, July 16). 3 Things to Know about niacin and Heart Health. The New York times. Retrieved from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/16/3-things-to-know-about-niacin-and-heart-health/?ref=research