Niacin, nicotinic acid, does many amazing things in the body. Without it, over 400 different metabolic processes could not happen!
Most tissues in our bodies absorb the active forms of niacin, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP). NAD is an essential coenzyme found in every cell of the body. It’s critical for over 400 enzyme processes like:
- Converting food into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy your cells use
- Healthy aging; promoting DNA repair and immune cell function
- Making enzymes that help cells function normally
Niacin's Role in Supporting Heart Health
Yet, protecting the heart may be the most significant role of niacin in the body. While our bodies need cholesterol to build cells, make vitamins, and produce hormones, too much of the waxy fat substance can pile up in our arteries and clog them.
The liver makes all the cholesterol we need, but we also get dietary cholesterol from foods like red meat, sweets, and dairy. Plus, the liver sometimes produces excessive cholesterol when we eat foods high in saturated and trans fats.
Studies show that niacin can help us keep both good cholesterol and bad cholesterol in healthy, normal ranges. (Learn more about healthy cholesterol levels here.)
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is called bad because it can collect in your arteries and reduce or block the blood flow to the heart. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is considered good because it moves all types of cholesterol from the arteries to your liver, which expels it.
Niacin can help keep the heart healthy and cholesterol balanced two ways. It may block the enzyme in the liver that makes cholesterol, reducing overproduction. It may also raise HDL levels, so that more cholesterol is carried to the liver and expelled.
Benefits of Taking Extended-Release Nicotinic Acid
As a supplement, niacin comes in two forms – immediate release and extended release. Some people experience a flushing sensation with immediate release nicotinic acid because it dilates small capillaries in your skin. The redness and tingling or itching sensation is harmless but may be uncomfortable.
Extended-release niacin, like our Endur-Acin®, releases nicotinic acid slowly over six to eight hours to reduce or eliminate flushing. Niacin is embedded in our proprietary vegetable wax tablet matrix core, so you get an equal amount hour over hour as it breaks down in the intestine. This also reduces stomach upset and gives our bodies the time needed to absorb the nicotinic acid.
It’s worth noting that flush-free forms of niacin made from inositol hexanicotinate do not aid in cholesterol balance.
Before you supplement with niacin, talk to your health care provider. High doses aren’t recommended for everyone, interact with some medications, and warrant more frequent liver level checks.