Niacin has received much press about the benefits to our health. It has been proven to lower cholesterol by lowering LDL lipids and triglycerides. In addition studies have shown other positive effects of niacin, such as stress relief, migraine relief and regulation of blood sugar in hypoglycemic.
However, it can be said that equal press has been given to undesirable side effects of niacin, most notably, niacin flush which can occur in doses greater than 100mg. Users of niacin will be well aware of this side effect, which manifests itself in the form of reddening along with a prickling or itching sensation on the skin as the niacin “flushes” through the body. High doses of niacin can cause these side effects to occur more pronounced and the effects can last up to 30 minutes. So what is happening to your body to cause this niacin flush and is it of any benefits to your health. To answer this we must weigh up the pros and cons of taking niacin as a health supplement.
What niacin does is it actually causes vasodilation, which is essentially a widening of your blood vessels and capillaries. Our arteries, veins and capillaries are used to transport oxygen and nutrients to all parts of our body and are also responsible for removing toxins from those areas. Capillaries are the blood vessels that reach our extremities and as such are important for removing toxins from parts of our bodies. Because capillaries are extremely narrow, blood normally passes through them slowly. This has the effect of hindering the speedy trafficking of toxins out of your system. This is partly why we get build-ups of toxins in our body because the blood is not being passed quickly enough to push the toxins out.
If you think of you circulatory system as a road map. The arteries and veins would be the highways and major roads, whereas the capillaries would be small narrow, almost impassable dirt roads. If you consider a remote building on that small dirt road as a cell that is full of toxins. Without a sufficient supply of blood (a wider road), this cell cannot rid itself of it’s toxins (get traffic through). If however, these dirt roads were widened, then the traffic or in this case the toxins could easily pass through.
This is exactly what Niacin does – it causes blood vessels, including capillaries, to dilate or increase in size, allowing more blood to flow through, causing the familiar niacin flush. This allows more blood to flow freely around your body to remove toxins. The body releases histamines which are compounds that aid in the building of the immune system. A side effect of histamines is the itch or prickling sensation you feel through the niacin flush. Other positive effects of the niacin flush are reduced stress and better sleep patterns through better circulation.
Weighing up the pros and cons of niacin flush, if you are still worried about its side effects, try to reassure yourself that the flushing is temporary and it is your body’s way of telling you that it is healing itself!
At benefitsofniacin.net we look to many sources for further information about niacin and other vitamins. Below are some other websites you may want to visit to further your knowledge of the benefits and other effects of niacin:
Interview with Suzanne Somers - CNN.com - Transcripts
Benefits of Niacin - YouTube
Twitter / Bobby Gill: Combination Niacin Does No ...
niacin-amide - Online Medical Dictionary | Free Online Medical ...
Q and A - Vitamin or Drug? - NYTimes.com