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Thursday, July 17, 2014

MORE on Niacin

The more I read about Niacin, the more I want to share.One thing I have learned reading other blogs and health newsletters, doctor's reports etc. is that the tolerance for Niacin can vary dramatically between individuals. I also have seen in print several times that taking it with vitamin C seems to diminish the side effects. I have been following Linus Pauling's Unified Theory of heart disease now for a year and usually take 10,000 mg of vitamin C daily. This is divided up with 4000 mg at breakfast after eating, 2000 mg at lunchtime after lunch and 4000 with the evening meal. Thus far, the only side effect I can attribute to taking niacin is a mild runny nose for a very short duration within 30 mins of taking niacin. It then disappears and does not happen again. usually this is in the AM after breakfast.

I am going to list two links with comments and experiences of various individuals taking varying amounts of niacin from 500 mg up to 3000 mg daily. I think you will find it interesting and I encourage you if you do add niacin to your regimen to NOT use or consume the so called "Flush Free Niacin" formulas and that you start slowly and keep a journal on your positive and negative effects. If you are a type 2 diabetic, have your A1C done at least two or three times a year along with your blood lipid profile. Before starting on a regimen of niacin on your own, check for side effects and let your doctor know about it. IF you are going on niacin to lower cholesterol, triglycerides etc. MAKE SURE YOU CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR FOR ANY DRUG INTERACTIONS AND SYNERGISM ETC.


Here are the links:



Overdosing on Niacin: Side Effects, Toxicity, Symptoms, Poisoning

I promised to write one column about the side effects of vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B3 (niacin, niacinamide), vitamin C, and vitamin D (cholecalciferol). Deficiency in these four vitamins causes beri beri, pellagra, scurvy, and rickets respectively. I started with vitamin D because it causes the most problems. Vitamin B3 (niacin, niacinamide) is second because it is the most troublesome.

The situation with niacin is what it is. The Food and Nutrition Board has set the RDA for niacin at 20 mg/day and the upper safe limit (UL) at 35 mg/day. This is far and away the closest for the four most important nutrients. At the same time, niacin is the only vitamin embraced by mainstream medicine. It is used to treat high cholesterol. Heart doctors prescribe 2000 mg/day niacin for this purpose – more than 50 times the UL. Are we supposed to believe that some people can take 2000 mg/day with no problems and others have to both make sure that they get 20 mg/day (the RDA) without exceeding the UL of 35 mg/day? Oddly enough, the answer to this question is yes. 

Niacin is famous for causing flushing. Rapid absorption of as little as 35 mg of niacin (think 35 mg of niacin with a hot coffee on an empty stomach first thing in the morning) can cause flushing. The duration and severity of flushing is proportional to the dose. A severe flush can be fearfully painful – an unforgettable experience. A mild flush could possibly be described as a pleasant experience by an unusual person – a feeling of warmth accompanied by tingling. Here is a fairly comprehensive list of other side effects listed by authorities.

(MY INPUT) LISTED BELOW is a fairly long list of controversial side effects with mega does of niacin. Opinions vary among naturalists and the medical community. If you are considering niacin for simply lowering cholesterol and improving your blood lipid profile, i woud suggest taking a look at a product called CHOLESLO FIRST. THAT IS THE PRODUCT I USE AND I LOVE IT.)
  • Itchy feeling spots on the skin (skin looks perfectly normal upon inspection)
  • Dry feeling spots on the skin (skin looks perfectly normal upon inspection)
  • Fainting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Ulcers
  • Liver malfunction
  • Nervousness
  • Panic
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Tooth pain
  • Gum pain
  • Decreased Thyroid function
  • Blurred vision
  • Lazy eye

I read this information and was well aware of the side effects before I started taking niacin. The information was useful, but lacking in many important details. So, once again, from here on the story is based on my personal experience. It will take time to tell how relevant my experiences have been. 

I’ve been taking niacin and reacting to niacin side effects for 12 years. Here are side effects I believe were caused by niacin that I experienced and aren’t on the list above:

  • Euphoria
  • Talkativeness
  • Excitability
  • Sleeplessness
  • Restless legs

Early on, I was taking over 1000 mg/day of niacin and feeling great. Then one day, for no obvious reason, after months supplementing near 1000 mg/day, nausea started in the morning right after I took my daily supplement. The nausea intensified throughout the morning until it became disabling. I ended up home and in bed. There, the nausea further intensified until it became agonizing. Finally, over the course of an hour or two, I vomited several times. The vomiting ended with a bright yellow fluid that I suspect is bile. When my wife was niacin poisoned, she also vomited this yellow fluid. I believe it is characteristic of the vomiting caused by niacin. One day I was taking regular doses of niacin and feeling fine, and the next day I was deathly ill. Once the vomiting was over, my recovery was astonishingly rapid. I was back to work feeling well the next day. I told my boss I had a 24-hour stomach bug. Despite great care, this happened to me two more times while taking regular doses of 500 to 1000 mg/day of niacin.

In recent years, I’ve been taking 100 to 1000 mg/day of niacin for several days in a row in short, intermittent bursts separated by weeks and months with mostly none interspersed with several days in the 60 to 125 mg/day range. When I do take it, I like to take the 60-120 mg/day dose of straight release niacin first thing in the morning with a cup of hot coffee on an empty stomach. That way I get the strongest possible reaction. I typically get a very mild flush that, to me, feels good. Less frequently I experience nothing or a severe flush. Rarely, I have experienced a 5 to 15 minute bout of intense nausea along with a severe flush.

In recent years, niacin reliably accelerates my heart rate and makes me less inhibited. I have trouble falling asleep. These effects last for about 24 hours.

On average, as the years have passed, I have been taking less and less niacin and experience a wider range of side effects at a wider range of severity's. My testimony directly contradicts the common claim that niacin side effects dissipate with time. It’s not just me. I persuaded friends and family members to start taking niacin at 250 to 500 mg/day doses. Today, many of them have quit taking niacin supplements because of side effects. At the same time, I know several are taking 1000 mg/day niacin to control cholesterol and reporting no problems with side effects. 

In summary, the list of niacin side effects is long. The list is so long that I recommend that anyone taking niacin stop taking it for 3 to 7 days at least once/year just to see if niacin is causing any trouble. Stopping for such a short time is not known to do any harm, and symptoms assumed to be a result of aging may actually be niacin side effects. I’ve taken 500 mg/day for several days with no side effects and have taken a single 60 mg dose that’s ruined most of a day. So, in my experience not only have I found that niacin tolerance varies widely from person to person, I’ve found that niacin tolerance in individuals varies widely. As a result, I’ve found niacin to be the hardest to use of the four vitamins associated with deficiency diseases.



Niacin Therapy as Used by Abram Hoffer, M.D.

Dosage: Niacin
Vitamin B-3: Niacin and Its Amide
by A. Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.The first water soluble vitamins were numbered in sequence according to priority of discovery. But after their chemical structure was determined they were given scientific names. The third one to be discovered was the anti-pellagra vitamin before it was shown to be niacin. But the use of the number B-3 did not stay in the literature very long. It was replaced by nicotinic acid and its amide (also known medically as niacin and its amide). The name was changed to remove the similarity to nicotine, a poison. 
The term vitamin B-3 was reintroduced by my friend Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, (Bill Wilson). We met in New York in 1960. Humphry Osmond and I introduced him to the concept of mega vitamin therapy. We described the results we had seen with our schizophrenic patients, some of whom were also alcoholic. We also told him about its many other properties. It was therapeutic for arthritis, for some cases of senility and it lowered cholesterol levels. 
Bill was very curious about it and began to take niacin, 3 g daily. Within a few weeks fatigue and depression which had plagued him for years were gone. He gave it to 30 of his close friends in AA and persuaded them to try it. Within 6 months he was convinced that it would be very helpful to alcoholics. Of the thirty, 10 were free of anxiety, tension and depression in one month. Another 10 were well in two months. He decided that the chemical or medical terms for this vitamin were not appropriate. He wanted to persuade members of AA, especially the doctors in AA, that this would be a useful addition to treatment and he needed a term that could be more readily popularized. He asked me the names that had been used. I told him it was originally known as vitamin B-3. This was the term Bill wanted. In his first report to physicians in AA he called it "The Vitamin B-3 Therapy." Thousands of copies of this extraordinary pamphlet were distributed. Eventually the name came back and today even the most conservative medical journals are using the term vitamin B-3. 
Bill became unpopular with the members of the board of AA International. The medical members who had been appointed by Bill, felt that he had no business messing about with treatment using vitamins. They also "knew" vitamin B-3 could not be therapeutic as Bill had found it to be. For this reason Bill provided information to the medical members of AA outside of the National Board, distributing three of his amazing pamphlets. They are now not readily available.
Vitamin B-3 exists as the amide in nature, in nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). Pure nicotinamide and niacin are synthetics. Niacin was known as a chemical for about 100 years before it was recognized to be vitamin B-3. It is made from nicotine, a poison produced in the tobacco plant to protect itself against its predators, but in the wonderful economy of nature which does not waste any structures, when the nicotine is simplified by cracking open one of the rings, it becomes the immensely valuable vitamin B-3. 
Vitamin B-3 is made in the body from the amino acid tryptophan. On the average 1 mg of vitamin B-3 is made from 60 mg of tryptophan, about 1.5% Since it is made in the body it does not meet the definition of a vitamin; these are defined as substances that can not be made. It should have been classified with the amino acids, but long usage of the term vitamin has given it permanent status as a vitamin. The 1.5% conversion rate is a compromise based upon the conversion of tryptophan to N-methyl nicotinamide and its metabolites in human subjects. I suspect that one day in the far distant future none of the tryptophan will be converted into vitamin B-3 and it then will truly be a vitamin. According to Horwitt [1], the amount converted is not inflexible but varies with patients and conditions. For example, women pregnant in their last three months convert tryptophan to niacin metabolites three times as efficiently as in non-pregnant females. Also there is evidence that contraceptive steroids, estrogens, stimulate tryptophan oxygenase, the enzyme that converts the tryptophan into niacin.
This observation raises some interesting speculations. Women, on average, live longer then men. It has been shown for men that giving them niacin increases their longevity. [2] Is the increased longevity in women the result of greater conversion of tryptophan into niacin under the stimulus of their increase in estrogen production? Does the same phenomenon explain the decrease in the incidence of coronary disease in women? 
The best-known vitamin deficiency disease is pellagra. More accurately it is a tryptophan deficiency disease since tryptophan alone can cure the early stages. Pellagra was endemic in the southern U.S.A. until the beginning of the last world war. It can be described by the four D's: dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia and death. The dementia is a late stage phenomenon. In the early stages it resembles much more the schizophrenias, and can only with difficulty be distinguished from it. The only certain method used by early pellagrologists was to give their patients in the mental hospitals small amounts of nicotinic acid. If they recovered they diagnosed them pellagra, if they did not they diagnosed them schizophrenia. This was good for some of their patients but was not good for psychiatry since it prevented any continuing interest in working with the vitamin for their patients who did not recover fast, but who might have done so had they given them a lot more for a much longer period of time, the way we started doing this in Saskatchewan. I consider it one of the schizophrenic syndromes.
I have been involved in establishing two of the major uses for vitamin B-3, apart from its role in preventing and treating pellagra. These are its action in lowering high cholesterol levels [3] and in elevating high density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (HDL), and its therapeutic role in the schizophrenias and other psychiatric conditions. It has been found helpful for many other diseases or conditions. These are psychiatric disorders including children with learning and behavioral disorders, the addictions including alcoholism and drug addiction, the schizophrenias, some of the senile states. Its efficacy for a large number of both mental and physical conditions is an advantage to patients and to their doctors who use the vitamin, but is difficult to accept by the medical profession raised on the belief that there must be one drug for each disease, and that when any substance appears to be too effective for many conditions, it must be due entirely to its placebo effect, something like the old snake oils.
I have thought about this for a long time and have within the past year become convinced that this vitamin is so versatile because it moderates or relieves the body of the pernicious effect of chronic stress. It therefore frees the body to carry on its routine function of repairing itself more efficiently. The current excitement in medicine is the recognition that hyperoxidation, the formation of free radicals, is one of the basic damaging processes in the body. These hyperexcited molecules destroy molecules and damage tissues at the cellular level and at the tissue level. 
All living tissue which depends on oxygen for respiration has to protect itself against these free radicals. Plants use one type of antioxidants and animals use another type. Fortunately there is a wide overlap and the same antioxidants such as vitamin C are used by both plants and animals. There is growing recognition that the system adrenaline -> adrenochrome plays a major role in the reactions to stress. I have elaborated this in a further report for this journal. [4]
The catecholamines, of which adrenalin is the best known example, and the aminochromes, of which adrenochrome is the best known example, are intimately involved in stress reactions. Therefore to moderate the influence of stress or to negate it, one must use compounds which prevent these substances from damaging the body. Vitamin B-3 is a specific antidote to adrenalin, and the antioxidants such as vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta carotene, selenium and others protect the body against the effect of the free radicals by removing them more rapidly from the body. Any disease or condition which is stress related ought therefore to respond to the combined use of vitamin B-3 and these antioxidants provided they are all given in optimum doses, whether small or large as in orthomolecular therapy. I will therefore list briefly the many indications for the use of vitamin B-3.
For each condition I will describe one case to illustrate the therapeutic response. For each condition I can refer to hundreds and thousands of case histories and have already in the literature described many of them in detail. [5]

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