Niacin is a B vitamin that can lower cholesterol as part of a doctor-recommended treatment plan. Other supplements may also help, including berberine and fish oil.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that circulates in the blood. There are two main types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Sometimes, people call LDL “bad” cholesterol and HDL “good” cholesterol.
LDL takes cholesterol and fats, such as triglycerides, to the cells that need them. HDL
When this happens, fatty deposits called plaque can build up in the arteries. Plaque
This plaque build-up can
Vitamins are substances, usually present in food, that the body needs to develop and function. Niacin is a vitamin that can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. However, people should not start taking it without speaking with a doctor first.
This article will examine how niacin helps lower a person’s cholesterol. It also looks at other supplements a person may take, safety precautions, and alternatives to cholesterol.
Niacin, or nicotinic acid, is a B vitamin that can help to lower cholesterol.
Although niacin is naturally present in certain foods, there are
Prescription-strength nicotinic acid is over
Learn what causes high cholesterol here.
People should take the medication at bedtime after eating a low fat snack.
A doctor typically prescribes 500 milligrams (mg) for 1–4 weeks to reduce the chance and severity of the side effects. They may then increase the dose to 1,000–2,000 mg daily, depending on the individual’s needs.
A person should never take the dietary supplement version of niacin to replace prescription niacin. This is because it can lead to serious side effects.
Those who take 1,000 mg or more of nicotinic acid daily as a medication can experience:
- low blood pressure
- high blood sugar levels
- stomach pain
- impaired or blurred vision
- a build up of fluid in the eyes
- liver problems, such as liver failure and hepatitis
As niacin can raise a person’s blood sugar levels, it
Other dietary supplements that may help to lower cholesterol include:
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)
Omega-3 PUFAs, also known as omega-3 fish oils or omega-3 fatty acids, can help
Omega-3 PUFAs are present in foods such as oily fish, seeds, and nuts. Supplements are also available. The
Large doses can cause serious side effects, including:
In people with diabetes, omega-3 PUFA supplements can make it more difficult to control their blood sugar levels. People with fish or shellfish allergies may have an allergic reaction to omega-3 PUFAs.
Learn more about polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs here.
Berberine comes from plants such as goldenseal, barberry, Oregon grape, and tree turmeric.
The possible side effects of berberine include:
Learn more about triglycerides and cholesterol levels here.
Flaxseed contains α-linolenic acid, lignans, and phenolic compounds, which can lower LDL and triglycerides in the blood.
The dietary supplement form of flaxseed is usually an oil.
Learn more about the best supplements for lowering cholesterol.
Other ways to lower cholesterol include:
Eating a balanced diet
The best way for a person to help lower their cholesterol level is to limit the amount of total and saturated fat they eat.
Saturated fat raises LDL levels more than any other food. Red meat, dairy, chocolate, deep-fried and processed foods all contain high levels of saturated fat.
Learn about how much saturated fat to eat daily.
Exercise can increase the levels of HDL cholesterol in the blood. The
Learn more about how exercise helps cholesterol levels here.
Taking prescription medicines
There are lots of prescription medications for people with high cholesterol. They include:
- cholesterol absorption inhibitors
- bile acid sequestrants
- PCSK9 inhibitors
- adenosine triphosphate-citrate lyase (ACL) inhibitors
The right treatment approach will depend on the individual. That is why it is important for people to speak with their doctor if they are concerned about their cholesterol.
Learn more about cholesterol-lowering medications and other remedies here.
The body needs a balance of LDL and HDL cholesterol. However, eating foods high in saturated fats can upset this balance, adding to CVD risks.
Niacin is a vitamin that can help lower LDL cholesterol. However, people should only take niacin under the supervision of a doctor because it can lead to severe side effects.