The Nation's Health + [Niacin]

Niacin: No flush = No effect

Healthcare

Healthcare

"Inositol Hexanicotinate is the true 'flushless niacin.' Unlike 'sustained-release' niacin, which is just regular niacin in a pill which dissolves more slowly, Inositol Hexanicotinate is a niacin complex, formed with the B-vitamin-like inositol. When you take an IHN supplement, the central inositol ring gradually releases niacin molecules, one at a time delivering true niacin. This, like “sustained-release” niacin, allows you to take niacin at clinically-proven doses without going crazy with the itch."

That above bit of nonsense adorns one manufacturers sales pitch for its no-flush niacin. No-flush niacin is one of the biggest scams in the health food store.

Ordinarily, I love health food stores. There's lots of fun and interesting things available that pack real power for your health program. Unfortunately, there's also outright nonsense. No-flush niacin is absolute nonsennse.

No-flush niacin is inositol hexaniacinate, or an inositol molecule complexed with 6 niacin molecules. So it really does contain niacin. However, although it works in rats, it exerts no known effect in humans.

Just Friday, a 41-year old woman came to my office for consultation because her doctor didn't know what to do with lipoprotein(a). She had seen a cardiologist who told her to take no-flush niacin. Both the cardiologist and the patient were therefore puzzled when lipoprotein(a) showed no drop and, in fact, was slightly higher on the no-flush preparation.

The lack of any observable effect and no studies whatsoever showing a positive effect (there is one study demonstrating no effect), manufacturers continue to manufacture it and health food stores continue to push it as an alternative to niacin that causes the flush. It's quite expensive, commonly costing $30-$50 for 100 tablets.

Don't fall for this gimmick. Niacin is among the most helpful of treatments for gaining control over coronary plaque. It raises HDL, corrects small LDL, reduces triglycerides (along with its friend, fish oil, of course), reduces lipoprotein(a), and dramatically contributes to reduced heart attack risk. No-flush niacin does none of this. Track Your Plaque Members: For a thorough discussion of niacin--how to use it, what preparations work and which do not, read Niacin: Ins and outs, ups and downs on the www.healthcare.gov website.