Getting to know our Vitamins – Niacin
Do you take vitamins? I don’t just mean taking them off the shelf at the store and putting them on the shelf at home with the intention of taking them someday.
I mean, do you take vitamins as a part of your daily nutritional regimen? If your answer is Yes (congratulations!), how did you come to choose which ones to take?
Choosing which vitamins are right for you can get pretty confusing, especially when every manufacturer has special claims and everyone you meet has a different combination that they couldn’t imagine a healthy life without.
Each vitamin has unique characteristics and being able to tell them apart is a good start. Let’s begin with Vitamin B3, commonly known as Niacin, and find out what makes it so special.
Along with Vitamin C, the B vitamins are water-soluble. This means that your body can usually flush out what it doesn’t need to avoid building up toxic levels. Compare this to fat-soluble vitamins that tend to stick around and get tucked away in the liver and fatty tissue where they can build up toxic levels.
B vitamins transform the foods we eat (carbohydrates) into fuel to give us the energy we need. Niacin has a special function: it is necessary for proper circulation. It can be found in most skin creams, because it’s also an ingredient in healthy skin. Niacin is also necessary for proper nervous system function and is used in the making of sex hormones. With all these roles to play, you can see why Niacin is such a valuable addition to our daily nutritional regimen.
Why else would someone take Niacin? In addition to all its other functions, Niacin has been widely accepted for its cholesterol-lowering abilities. Multiple studies have shown that it can dramatically raise high-density cholesterol (good cholesterol) while lowering your bad or low-density cholesterol. Studies have also shown that when Niacin goes toe-to-toe with prescription drugs such as statins, Niacin actually comes out on top! Niacin is also used to treat pellagra, a niacin deficiency. Folks with arteriosclerosis, macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s are also taking Niacin.
If you let food be your pharmacy, you can get Niacin in chicken, eggs and dark leafy greens. If you take it in supplement form, to get the right dosage you should consult your heath care provider. There can be too much of a good thing, even with Niacin, and if you take too much too soon you may experience skin flushing and an upset stomach. When it comes to vitamins it’s also good to stick with a brand you trust.
We should never give up our responsibility for our own health. We’re the ones who have to live with our decisions.