Also known as Vitamin B3, niacin is known to be a part of over 200 chemical reactions necessary for the production of energy in our cells, and is an important link in the chemical communications between cells.
Studies have shown that higher amounts of niacin can boost levels of good HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides as well or better than some prescription drugs; that said, you should consult with your doctor before taking niacin supplements to treat your cholesterol. As the Mayo Clinic notes:
Research findings: In high doses, niacin can reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides and raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol. Studies show niacin may also slow the development of atherosclerosis when used with other cholesterollowering drugs, diet and exercise. However, in the doses needed for these effects (usually greater than 1,000 mg/day), niacin can cause liver damage. Therefore, high-dose intakes should be considered a prescribed medication, not a vitamin, and taken under a doctor’s supervision.
Many people believe there are numerous other benefits to niacin. These include treating everything from arthritis to acne, improving memory, helping with insomnia, sun sensitivity, motion sickness, deafness, vertigo, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus). However, studies on these findings are mixed, so it’s wise (again) to consult with a medical professional first.
Niacin Facts – Foods You Should Eat
Lean meats like tuna, chicken, turkey and salmon have high levels of niacin. So do organ meats, brewer’s yeast, peanuts and peanut butter. Check out our list of nut butter nutrients.