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Vitamin B3

Category: Natural chemicals



Introduction and description










Niacin is another name for Vitamin B3.



Quote from study

"The essential property of niacin is that it helps to keep cholesterol levels in balance. In 1955, Altschul et al. described niacin as having a lipid lowering property for the first time. This was then confirmed by subsequent studies. Niacin is described as “the oldest lipid lowering chemical” with unique anti atherosclerotic property. It reduces low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-C), and triglycerides (TG), but effectively increases high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL). Despite the importance of other cardiovascular risk factors, high HDL correlates to lower cardiovascular events independent of LDL reduction.Other effects of niacin include anti-thrombotic and vascular inflammation, improving endothelial function, and plaque stability.
There have been a number of trials that compared Niacin [taken as a drug] with other cholesterol lowering pharmaceuticals. The ARBITER 6–HALTS trial enrolled patients with coronary artery disease, or an equivalent risk condition such as diabetes, who were already taking statins. They were randomized to additionally take either extended-release niacin or ezetimibe, and the primary end point was change in artery wall thickness. Both drugs reduced LDL cholesterol levels but Niacin reduced artery wall thickness. Ezetimibe “paradoxically increased artery wall thickness Patients on ezetimibe also had more major cardiovascular events”. The trial was terminated early after 208 volunteers had completed the study."

Sources of Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 is found in meat, vegetables, fish, eggs and brewers yeast.  It  is also synthesized from tryptophan, an essential amino acid found in most forms of protein. If we look at the amount of niacin per 100gms of various foodstuffs we can see that the following contain the highest amounts

  • Vegemite (from spent brewer's yeast) (110 mg niacin per 100 grams)

  • Marmite (from spent brewer's yeast) (110 mg niacin per 100 grams)

  • Brewer's yeast (36 mg)

  • Whole grain products (4 - 29.5 mg)

  • Ovaltine (18 mg)

  • Legumes (0.4 – 16 mg)

  • Peanut butter (15 mg)

  • Liver, heart and kidney (9 – 15 mg niacin per 100 grams)

  • Fish: tuna, salmon, halibut (2.5 – 13 mg)

  • Venison (8.43 mg)

  • Chicken, chicken breast (6.5 mg)

  • Beef (5 – 6 mg)

  • Shiitake mushrooms (3.5 – 4 mg niacin per 100 grams)

  • Dates (2 mg)

  • Nuts (2 mg niacin per 100 grams)

You should not take niacin as a pill but eat the foods with niacin in them

References and further reading

  • Niacin in patients with low HDL cholesterol levels receiving intensive statin therapy. - AIM-HIGH Investigators, Boden WE, Probstfield JL, Anderson T, Chaitman BR, Desvignes-Nickens P, Koprowicz K, McBride R, Teo K, Weintraub W. PMID: 22085343
  • The role of niacin in raising high-density lipoprotein cholesterol to reduce cardiovascular events in patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and optimally treated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: baseline characteristics of study participants. The Atherothrombosis Intervention in Metabolic syndrome with low HDL/high triglycerides: impact on Global Health outcomes (AIM-HIGH) trial. AIM-HIGH Investigators. Am Heart J. 2011 Mar;PMID: 21392609
  • Niacin and cholesterol: role in cardiovascular disease (review). - Ganji SH, Kamanna VS, Kashyap ML. J Nutr Biochem. 2003 Jun;14(6):298-305. Review.  PMID: 12873710
  • Niacin administration significantly reduces oxidative stress in patients with hypercholesterolemia and low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Hamoud S, Kaplan M, Meilin E, Hassan A, Torgovicky R, Cohen R, Hayek T. Am J Med Sci. 2013 Mar;PMID: 22990043
  • Arterial Biology for the Investigation of the Treatment Effects of Reducing Cholesterol (ARBITER) 2: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of extended-release niacin on atherosclerosis progression in secondary prevention patients treated with statins. Taylor AJ, Sullenberger LE, Lee HJ, Lee JK, Grace KA. Circulation. 2004 Dec 7;PMID: 15537681
  • The Addition of Niacin to Statin Therapy Improves High-density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels but not Metrics of Functionality. Khera AV, Patel PJ, Reilly MP, Rader DJ. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013 Jul 25. PMID: 23933538
  • Effect of low-dose niacin on high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and total cholesterol/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio. Luria MH. Arch Intern Med. 1988 Nov;1 PMID: 3190381
  • Effect of a modified, well-tolerated niacin regimen on serum total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol and the cholesterol to high density lipoprotein ratio. Alderman JD, Pasternak RC, Sacks FM, Smith HS, Monrad ES, Grossman W. Am J Cardiol. 1989 Oct PMID:  2801522
  •  Comparison of the safety and efficacy of a combination tablet of niacin extended release and simvastatin vs simvastatin monotherapy in patients with increased non-HDL cholesterol (from the SEACOAST I study). Ballantyne CM, Davidson MH, McKenney J, Keller LH, Bajorunas DR, Karas RH. Am J Cardiol. 2008 May 15;1 PMID: 18471454

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