Decrease Cholesterol With Niacin

Sunflower seeds contain high amounts of niacin.

Niacin, or vitamin B3, has been shown to help reduce high cholesterol levels, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Niacin aids in reducing cholesterol by increasing beneficial high-density lipoproteins, or HDL cholesterol, and decreasing harmful low-density lipoproteins, or LDL cholesterol. Although niacin is grouped together with two other forms of vitamin B3, niacinimide and inositol hexanicotinate, it has a different function on the body and is the only one proven to reduce cholesterol levels. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of niacin for adults is 16 mg for men and 14 mg for women. However, doses higher than the RDA are necessary to decrease cholesterol with niacin.


1. Eat a diet rich in niacin. Brewer’s yeast, sunflower seeds and beets are high in niacin, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Additionally, animal products such as beef kidney and liver, salmon and tuna are excellent sources of niacin.

2. Discuss a safe dosage of supplemental niacin with your doctor. A qualified medical practitioner should always be consulted when increasing niacin dosages. Niacin can cause drug interactions and can be toxic in high doses.

3. Pay close attention to how you feel while taking niacin and report any side effects to your doctor. Niacin creates a “flush,” which causes redness of the face and neck and a tingling sensation. Other side effects include headaches, blurred vision and nausea.

4. Take blood tests to monitor your cholesterol levels. Your physician may also want to check your liver enzyme levels in blood tests. This may indicate whether high niacin doses are affecting liver function.

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