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Recent studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine are adding to concerns about the safety and effectiveness of niacin, a popular drug for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The studies reveal that although this B vitamin can reduce triglyceride levels, raise “good” cholesterol levels (HDL) and reduce “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL), it does not produce the benefits that patients and their doctors might expect. And the studies are revealing serious harms. Here are three things you need to know about niacin.
First, these new studies failed to show that niacin reduced the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Recent studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine are adding to concerns about the safety and effectiveness of niacin, a popular drug for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The studies reveal that although this B vitamin can reduce triglyceride levels, raise “good” cholesterol levels (HDL) and reduce “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL), it does not produce the benefits that patients and their doctors might expect.
Vitamin B3 has a number of important roles in helping to maintain good health, many of which have now been scientifically proven as fact, such as the role that niacin, one of the forms of vitamin B3, can have on lowering levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. There are however dangerous side effects to consuming high doses of niacin and, therefore, patients need to be regularly monitored by health professionals, with this treatment not being suitable for everyone.
The recommended daily dosage of niacin for a normal adult is in the 13-17 milligram range, and niacin does not frequently include a lot of side effects with this usage. When individuals take large doses of niacin, either as a cholesterol-lowering agent or for other intended uses, ingesting significant amounts of niacin can cause some common side effects.
Niacin and its derivative nicotinamide are dietary precursors of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which can be phosphorylated (NADP) and reduced (NADH and NADPH). NAD functions in oxidation-reduction (redox) reactions and non-redox reactions. (More information) Pellagra is the disease of severe niacin deficiency. It is characterized by symptoms affecting the skin, the digestive system, and the nervous system and can lead to death if left untreated. (More information) Dietary tryptophan can be converted to niacin, although the efficiency of conversion is low in humans and affected by deficiencies in other nutrients.
Vitamin B3 is made up of niacin and niacinamide, and can be found in many foods, including yeast, meat, fish, milk, eggs, green vegetables, and cereal grains. Vitamin B3 is often found in combination with other B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, cyanocobalamin, and folic acid.
Niacin is used with diet changes (restriction of cholesterol and fat intake) to reduce the amount of cholesterol (a fat-like substance) and other fatty substances in your blood and to increase the amount of high density lipoprotein (HDL; ''good cholesterol'').
All tissues in the body convert absorbed niacin into its main metabolically active form, the coenzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD).
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