Niacin, also known as vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid, is often used to support the health of the heart and endothelium, the cells lining the blood vessels, as well as keep cholesterol balanced. However, you need help from a healthcare provider experienced in niacin therapy to take high doses.
This guide can help you find a medical provider with that experience.
Niacin Therapy is Individualized
Niacin is often used to help keep good and bad cholesterol in normal ranges . Studies show that niacin may lower triglycerides and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol which helps remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol from the bloodstream. Nicotinic acid may also block the enzyme in the liver that makes cholesterol, reducing chances of overproduction.
Need a refresher on cholesterol and lipid parameters? Get it here.
But to get the dose right for your health goals and reduce possible side effects or toxicity, you need a doctor’s help because everyone’s body responds differently to niacin, explains Dr. Joe Keenan, leading expert on niacin therapy.
Dr. Keenan typically starts patients on a low dose of extended-release niacin and increases the dose over several weeks to reduce side effects like flushing and stomach upset. He also monitors liver levels for toxicity, gout, and elevated amino acid homocysteine. He’s found that a small percentage of people are extremely sensitive to niacin.
He also likes to talk to patients about what they’re eating, the best times to take niacin, natural ways to reduce the flushing side effect, and why extended-release niacin is preferred.
Get more of Dr. Keenan’s insights and a link to his book, “The Niacin Breakthrough,” here.
Providers Experienced in Niacin Therapy
While Dr. Keenan’s book provides great information on niacin’s benefits for heart health and healthy aging, you’ll need a doctor who knows your background, medications, and health goals for taking niacin. There are different types of primary care physicians; not all of them learn about or use therapeutic nutrition or supplements.
It’s possible that your medical doctor (MD) can help with niacin therapy, but many cannot. MDs have comprehensive training in medications but are not required to learn about supplements.
Functional medicine doctors (FMD), who practice integrative medicine, take a holistic approach to healing. Their functional medicine certification includes learning about nutrition and supplements, including niacin.
Naturopathic doctors (ND) also take a holistic approach to healthcare. They’re extensively trained in nutrition and supplements and many other therapies that contribute to whole patient wellness.
Doctors trained in the BaleDoneen Method use advanced laboratory and imaging tests as well as individualized assessments for arterial health. They have specialized training in arterial health, the wellness of the 30,000 miles of arteries in the body. Niacin therapy is part of their training. Many of these doctors offer telehealth visits and mail-in labs if they’re not in your area.
You may need to talk with a couple of different providers to determine who is the best fit for you and your health goals with niacin therapy. These resources should help.