Can niacin (vitamin B3) help cholesterol levels?

Vitamin B3, or niacin, is an essential vitamin that the body uses to convert carbohydrates into energy. Niacin also processes fat in the body, lowers cholesterol levels, and regulates blood sugar levels. Pharmacist Eamonn Brady from Whelehans Pharmacy explains that good food sources of niacin include brown rice, wholemeal bread, and bran. Other sources include lean chicken, veal, bacon, fish, liver, yeast extract (such as Marmite ), peanuts, and sundried tomatoes.

There is some evidence to indicate niacin may help increase HDL (good ) cholesterol and reduce LDL (bad ) cholesterol slightly. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting niacin and only follow directions on the pack.

If using a niacin supplement, always take the ‘No-Blush’ form of niacin which does not cause the flushing. Whelehans stock a brand of niacin called Patrick Holford’s NoBlush Niacin which contains niacin in the form of inositol hexanicotinate which does not cause the blushing associated with some forms of niacin. Directions are one tablet twice daily. Niacin supplements should be avoided during pregnancy and breast feeding. Niacin is a food supplement, not a medicine. It is not an alternative to proper medical assessment or prescription medicine.

Whelehans Pharmacy, 38 Pearse Street, Mullingar (opposite the Greville Arms Hotel ). Tel (044 ) 9334591 or see


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