Niacin Supplement Linked to Heart Problems

People can dismiss supplements as only mildly impactful. You don’t think of them as affecting your body as much as drugs. However, sometimes, they can take a toll on your system. Taking too much niacin may heighten your risk for heart attacks or strokes.  

Niacin, or vitamin B3, is added to fortified food and can be taken as a supplement. People with high levels of it in their blood may have inflamed blood vessels and be at a higher risk for heart attacks or strokes.

Researchers examined blood samples from more than 3,000 adults from the U.S. and Europe. People who had a lot of 4PY in their blood were about 60 percent more likely to have heart attacks, strokes or inflamed blood vessels. The body makes 4PY as it breaks down excess niacin.

Niacin is an important nutrient that your body needs. It helps regulate cholesterol, boosts joint health and aids brain function. It also aids skin health. Previously, it was thought that taking too much niacin was only regularly linked to headaches and low blood pressure. Serious problems like liver damage were rare. This new study shows problems might be more common than thought.

I think this study really shows that sometimes, when it comes to vitamins, you can have too much of a good thing,” said Jenny Jia at Northwestern Univ.

Niacin is naturally in red meat, poultry, fish, nuts and legumes. People died from niacin deficiencies in the early 20th century. It was then added to brown rice, bread and other cereal products. Our modern diet relies on a lot of processed foods with added nutrients. A federal health survey found that most Americans consume nearly the maximum safe amount of niacin. Taking a supplement on top of that isn’t beneficial for most people.

Speak to your doctor before taking a niacin supplement. If you are currently taking a niacin supplement, speak to your doctor to make sure it’s the right choice for you. Supplements can significantly impact your health in beneficial and harmful ways.  

Banner image: The Tonik via Unsplash

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