Niacin: Safe Alternative to Statin Drugs
Niacin is well known for its ability to reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while at the same time raising HDL cholesterol.
Here is a breakdown of how niacin works:
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) lowers the liver’s production of very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). This is a type of lipoprotein (like LDL and HDL) that allows fats and cholesterol to flow in the water-based solution of the bloodstream. VLDL is converted to low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the bloodstream and when VLDL is decreased, LDL is decreased as well.
Niacin also works to raise HDL. It was initially thought it did this by increasing HDL production in the liver. However, a study published in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of Lipid Research found that nicotinic acid prevents HDL from being removed by the liver.
Niacin has also been known for its triglyceride lowering effect. High levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream have been linked to atherosclerosis, thus significantly increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Extended Release Niacin not as Effective!
However the popular alternative to niacin, nicotinamide used for the lack of the flushing effect, does not work in the same manner as niacin.
In other words, nicotinamide is not an effective option for raising HDL.
Do Negative Side-Effects = Good Health?
The medical alternative to lowing cholesterol is Statin drugs. Some of the more popular include Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor. They claim to significantly reduce the risk of heart attack in patients with proven coronary artery disease (CAD), and can also reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke in patients with high cholesterol levels who are at increased risk for heart disease (have you noticed this seems to be everybody these days?)
However, there are potentially serious side-effects regarding Statin drugs including: rhabdomyolysis (serious painful condition which muscle fibers are broken down), kidney failure and liver failure.
And if these weren’t scary enough, recently Crestor has been facing lawsuits due to the increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart failure! Talk about irony!
So wouldn’t niacin be a healthier choice over Statin drugs? Why is it overlooked by so many medical doctors is beyond me. Or have they overlooked it? Oh wait, that’s right. There is the prescription form of the niacin (vitamin B3) known as Niaspan. What’s the difference? The claim is that Niaspan is of better quality than the supplement version.
Well, if you buy your supplements from companies that comply with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), you will be buying supplements of quality!
So what with that said, what is really the difference? Only the cost!