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Niacin - Vitamin b3

Overview

Niacin, also called vitamin B3, is one of the water-soluble vitamins in the B complex family of vitamins.  Like all B complex vitamins, niacin helps to convert carbohydrates to glucose, which is burned for energy.  It’s a vital nutrient, essential to the body in creating adrenal hormones; helping the body to detoxify itself and maintaining muscle tone in the digestive tract.

 

The B complex vitamins also are vital in maintaining healthy skin, hair, nails, eyes, mouth, liver and nervous system.  Not enough niacin leads to a condition called pellagra, with symptoms that include dry and cracked skin, diarrhea, cankers sores, indigestion, vomiting and depression.  The treatment for pellagra is a balanced diet and niacin supplements.

 

The symptoms of insufficient niacin, however, are much more subtle and pernicious.  They include frequent bouts of indigestion, mild depression and fatigue.

 

What Niacin  Does:

Niacin specifically helps the body to rid itself of toxic chemicals.  It works in conjunction with other vitamins and minerals to increase their effectiveness – for instance, it’s known that niacin can increase the effectiveness of certain medications given to lower cholesterol.

 

Niacin is essential to maintain proper blood circulation and digestive functioning.  Without enough niacin, the body cannot properly metabolize proteins or carbohydrates.  It helps maintain skin health, and dilates the blood capillaries (the reason for the well-known ‘niacin flush’).  Niacin also is necessary for the body to synthesize estrogen, progesterone, cortisone, testosterone, thyroxin and insulin.

 

Health Benefits of Niacin:

In addition to the essential functions of niacin noted above, research has shown that niacin is effective in certain health conditions. Specifically, niacin:

 

Prevents cancer

Several studies reported by the Linus Pauling Institute support the use of niacin as a cancer preventative. Specifically:

  • A study in Switzerland and Italy found that increased consumption of niacin along with other antioxidant nutrients lowered the incidence of oral, pharyngeal and esophageal cancer in humans.

May protect the body from diabetes

  • A number of studies conducted among children with siblings diagnosed with insulin dependent diabetes mellitus suggest that treatment with high doses of a form of niacin prevents the development of IDDM in high risk groups.

Lowers cholesterol

It has been known since 1955 that nicotinic acid reduces the levels of HDL and lipoproteins in the blood. More recent research shows that:

 

·        A recent randomized controlled trial found that a combination of nicotinic acid (2 to 3 grams/day) and a cholesterol-lowering drug (simvastatin) resulted in greater benefits on serum HDL levels and cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, than placebo in patients with coronary artery disease and low HDL levels.

·        The Coronary Drug Project (CDP) followed over 8,000 men with a previous myocardial infarction (heart attack) for 6 years. In the group that took 3 grams of nicotinic acid daily, total blood cholesterol decreased by an average of 10%, triglycerides decreased by 26%, recurrent nonfatal myocardial infarction decreased by 27%, and cerebrovascular events (stroke + transient ischemic attacks) decreased by 26% compared to the placebo group.

May slow the progression of HIV

There’s considerable evidence that HIV/AIDS increases susceptibility to niacin deficiency, but recent research suggests that supplementation with a form of niacin may slow the progress of HIV to AIDS.

  • An observational study of 281 HIV-positive men found that higher levels of niacin intake were associated with decreased progression rate to AIDS and improved survival.

Possible Side Effects of Niacin

At high doses that are often used for pharmacologic purposes, niacin may cause a ‘flush’, indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea and possible liver damage.  For that reason, it’s highly suggested that a doctor be consulted before undertaking a regimen of high doses of niacin.

At the doses usually recommended for supplementing the diet, niacin has no harmful side effects.

Summary

Because supplementing with one member of the B complex family may lead to an imbalance of the others, most health experts recommend taking niacin as part of a daily multi-vitamin supplement that is carefully balanced to provide optimal levels of each vitamin.  We recommend Total Balance, a complete nutritional and health supplement from Xtend-Life Natural Products.  

Xtend-Life combines over 70 vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients in just the right proportions to work synergistically for total health and protection from aging and disease.  The original formula for Total Balance was devised six years ago, and has been constantly upgraded as research shows better ways to deliver the nutrients to your system and provide the highest possible degree of bioavailability of every single one.

 

 

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