Niacin Flush Benefits and Side Effects

Niacin is a B vitamin that has been used for years as an effective means of reducing high cholesterol. Niacin’s benefits are also extensive, including improvements in circulation and clear skin. However, the side effects can be severe if taken incorrectly or at too-high doses.


Niacin, commonly known as vitamin B3 or niacinamide, is a water-soluble vitamin that aids in the functioning of the heart. A niacin flush is a brief side effect of taking niacin (vitamin B3), or it might result from taking larger dosages of niacin for a specific health problem. So what are some of the benefits of niacin? To begin with, niacin has been used to decrease increased LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood since the 1950s.

So, what exactly is a niacin flush? Let’s take a look at what a niacin flush is, as well as the potential advantages and significant hazards.

What Is a Niacin Flush and How Does It Work?

What exactly is niacin? Niacin, often known as vitamin B3, is an important nutrient we should consume regularly. According to current USDA guidelines, adults and children over the age of four should ingest around 16 milligrams of B3 each day. So what is the purpose of niacin? It’s used to treat hyperlipidemia — or high cholesterol — and lessen the risk of cardiovascular problems at much larger dosages.

B3 is one of the eight B vitamins. Niacin, or nicotinic acid, is another name for this B3 vitamin. Niacinamide and inositol hexanicotinate are two alternative forms of the vitamin; however, their effects vary from niacins.

Niacin, often known as vitamin B3, is a B vitamin that may be found in nature. Grass-fed cattle, free-range chicken, lamb, salmon, sardines, sunflower seeds, and tahini are all rich in niacin. Supplementing with niacin tablets is another way to get this B vitamin. Niacin, like the other B vitamins, is water-soluble rather than fat-soluble, which means it is not stored in the body.

What is the function of niacin? Niacin or B3 helps our bodies transform the food we consume into useful fuel, much like the other B vitamins. In the adrenal glands and other regions of the body, niacin aids in the production of essential sex hormones as well as stress-related hormones. The capacity of niacin to reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation is another of the vitamin’s advantages.

What is a niacin flush, exactly? A niacin flush occurs when someone takes a niacin supplement and gets red, warm, tingly burning, and/or itchy skin for a short period of time. This is because the capillaries grow and enhance blood flow to the skin’s surface, causing this. A typical visual response to large doses of niacin or a niacin overdose is a niacin flush. It may resemble a sunburn in appearance and feel, although it usually starts 15 to 30 minutes after taking niacin and lasts around an hour. Although the flush is deemed safe, it may be unpleasant, which is why flush-free niacin pills are now available.

Some individuals purposefully take larger dosages of niacin for specific health issues, which is also known as a niacin flush since they are essentially flooding their bodies with niacin. This is the kind of niacin flush I’m talking about. Is niacin flush beneficial to your health? Specific individuals may benefit from it, according to research.

Benefits of a Niacin Flush

  1. Aids in the reduction of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
  2. Can Help You Get More Good Cholesterol
  3. Reduces the hardening of the arteries
  4. The Body Is Detoxed
  5. Helps with Weight Loss
  6. Aids in the treatment of Pellagra

1. Assists in the reduction of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides

Previous research has shown that “in pharmacological doses, niacin (vitamin B3) was proven to reduce total cholesterol, triglyceride, very-low-density lipoprotein, and low-density lipoprotein levels, and to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels,” according to a study published in the American Journal of Medical Science.

The purpose of this tiny 2013 research was to see how 12 weeks of niacin medication affected the lipid profile and oxidative stress status in individuals with low HDL cholesterol, especially in those with less than 40 mg/DL. Low HDL levels and oxidative stress are both linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

A total of 17 individuals with hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) and low HDL cholesterol were included in the research and eight healthy control volunteers. Overall, niacin administration reduced oxidative stress and triglyceride levels while dramatically raising HDL levels in high cholesterol patients, according to the research.

2. Can Help You Get More Good Cholesterol

Supplementing with high dosages of niacin has been demonstrated to help raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels in studies.

“Therapeutically used for more than 50 years, niacin is the most effective therapeutically accessible medication for boosting high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels,” according to a scholarly paper published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice. Niacin has been proven in many trials to improve HDL cholesterol by 20% to 40% in persons with excessively high total cholesterol.

3. Assists in the reduction of arterial hardening

Niacin is well-known for its use in the treatment of atherosclerosis. Niacin has been shown in several studies to help persons with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), commonly known as atherosclerosis. According to one research study, niacin has been demonstrated to preferentially enhance plasma levels of Lp-AI, a component of HDL that has a cardio-protective impact in individuals with low HDL levels. Additionally, niacin supplementation has been demonstrated to reduce oxidative stress linked to atherosclerosis.

Niacin inhibited vascular inflammation and apoptosis (programmed cell death) in vascular smooth muscle cells in animal animals, according to a research published in the Medical Science Monitor in 2015. Overall, in animal models, niacin seemed to slow the progression of atherosclerosis.

4. The Body Is Detoxed

“Niacin flush drug test” and “niacin flush thc” are two common Internet searches for niacin. So, what’s the story there? Some individuals reportedly do a niacin flush to pass a drug test.

Can a niacin flush assist someone who is trying to detox from drugs? Some think it may aid in the removal of drug metabolites from the body by increasing the rate of fat breakdown in the areas where the metabolites generally accumulate. Taking a large number of niacin tablets just before a drug test, on the other hand, is very risky. If niacin is being used to detox from narcotics, it should be done gradually and under the supervision of a doctor.

5. Assists with weight loss

It’s easy to locate information about niacin weight loss, but does niacin truly help you lose weight? Some people believe that niacin may aid with detox and weight reduction since it can help break down fat and get rid of toxins trapped in fat cells. However, few large-scale or well-conducted scientific research support niacin flushing for weight reduction.

However, in one research, mice were fed either a high-fat or a low-fat diet for six weeks before receiving either a vehicle or a niacin therapy for five weeks. “Niacin administration attenuates obesity-induced adipose tissue inflammation in a niacin receptor-dependent way via enhanced adiponectin and anti-inflammatory cytokine production and decreased pro-inflammatory cytokine expression,” the researchers found.

6. Aids in the treatment of pellagra

Pellagra is an uncommon health disorder caused by a vitamin B3 deficiency. Pellagra is a disease that may affect alcoholics and persons living with HIV/AIDS. Therefore, the FDA has authorized niacin as a pellagra therapy.


What to Do After a Niacin Flush

Always consult your health care practitioner if you have questions about how long or how frequently to undergo a niacin flush, as well as the right amount. Doctors usually recommend taking niacin with meals and gradually increasing the dose over many weeks. In addition, extended-release niacin pills are often prescribed. This niacin has been intended to lessen the risk of skin flushing.

Here’s an illustration of how much niacin flushing with an extended-release niacin pill should cost:

  • Weeks 1–4: Take a daily dosage of 500 mg niacin extended-release at night.
  • Weeks 5–8: Take 1,000 mg of niacin extended-release every night before bed (can be one 1,000-milligram tablet or two 500-milligram tablets)

A doctor will usually assess the patient’s reaction to the niacin after eight weeks. Female individuals have been shown to need lesser dosages to get a favorable response than male ones. If the reaction to 1,000 milligrams is insufficient, the dose may be raised to 1,500 milligrams, then 2,000 milligrams per day if necessary. Niacin dosages of more than 2,000 mg per day are typically not advised. It’s also suggested that you don’t increase your niacin intake by more than 500 mg in four weeks.

Including Niacin Flush in your Diet

If you want to increase your niacin intake via your diet, include niacin-rich foods in your meals regularly.

Supplemental niacin dosages of 50 mg or above usually cause a niacin flush (the visual symptom). The apparent niacin side effect known as a niacin flush is unlikely to occur when niacin is absorbed via meals.

Niacin Side Effects and Precautions

Skin flushing is a side effect of niacin, especially when you first start taking it. Niacin supplementation might cause stomach distress and diarrhea as minor adverse effects. The severity of these minor adverse effects normally diminishes with time.

Is a niacin flush risky? Niacin in high amounts has been linked to liver damage, gastrointestinal disorders, glucose intolerance, low blood pressure, cardiac rhythm disturbances, and other health concerns. This is why it’s crucial to talk to your doctor about the best niacin supplement and dosage for your requirements.

What about niacin that doesn’t need a flush or niacin that doesn’t require a flush? Inositol nicotinate, also known as inositol hexanicotinate, is often found in no-flush niacin. These types of niacin vary from niacin (nicotinic acid). They may not have the same effects as niacin (nicotinic acid) and may not create the same visual flushing effect. Avoiding alcohol and spicy foods are two popular pieces of advice for decreasing skin flushing caused by niacin intake. Also proven to lessen the likelihood of skin flushing is taking niacin with meals beginning with a smaller dose and gradually increasing the dosage over time.

Anyone with the following conditions should avoid a niacin flush as well as niacin supplementation:

  • Active kidney illness
  • Active liver illness
  • An active stomach ulcer
  • Alcoholism
  • Hemophilia and other blood clotting diseases
  • Glaucoma
  • Gout
  • Blood pressure that is too low
  • Niacin hypersensitivity
  • Uncontrolled blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes (since niacin can increase blood sugar levels)

If you’re pregnant, attempting to become pregnant, or nursing, it’s usually not a good idea to take niacin extended-release pills.

At least two weeks before surgery, stop taking niacin or niacinamide. This is because niacin can aggravate allergies by raising histamine levels in the body.

Before taking niacin, see your doctor if you have any of these health risks, notably diabetes or gallbladder disease. Also, always be with your physician before doing a niacin flush. Combining statins with niacin is recommended by some physicians. However, this might raise the risk of adverse effects.

Last Thoughts

  • A niacin flush is a transient side effect of taking niacin that some doctors employ to decrease cholesterol profiles and improve heart health.
  • Niacin flush advantages have been proven in studies to include lower LDL cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and oxidative stress while raising HDL cholesterol.
  • Niacin flushes should only be done under the direction of a doctor.
  • A niacin flush has significant dangers that should be carefully evaluated before using it as a therapy option.
  • Healthy niacin-rich foods like grass-fed beef, turkey, avocados, and peas are easy to include in your diet regularly.
  • Because the B vitamins interact with one another to promote absorption and conversion, taking them all together in the form of a high-quality B vitamin complex supplement causes the vitamins to perform better in the body.
  • Do not undertake a niacin flush without first seeing your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does niacin do to the body?

A: Niacin is a B-complex vitamin that can lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation in cells associated with cardiovascular disease risks such as macrophages and endothelial cells.

What is the most common side effect of niacin?

A: The most common side effects of niacin are swelling in the face, flushing or feeling warm, and stomach pain.

What does niacin flush-free do for your body?

A: Niacin flush-free is a supplement that may help with high blood pressure.

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