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July 20, 2011 at 3:55 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Niacin for Heart Health Debunked in New Study

By Barnaby More Blogs by This Author

The search has been on for years for a supplement that will reduce the liklihood of heart attacks. The National Institute for Health has just pulled the plug on a study of super doses of Niacin, dashing hopes that Niacin could be a game changer.

I first read about this in the Washington Post last week. The hope was that Niacin, which boosts HDL levels, ( the so called good cholesterol) could also be relied upon to reduce the chance of one suffering a heart attack.

The theory went like this. People with high LDL numbers ( the so called bad cholesterol)  had a greater chance of heart attacks because LDL sets the stage for plaque build up in the blood vessels.  It was discovered that heavy doses of Niacin ( vitamin B) RAISES the level of HDL in the blood. This was seen as great news as HDL carries fat to the liver for processing. Fat is what clings to the arterial walls causing constriction and blockages whch can result in heart attacks. So, the reasoning went, if Niacin RAISES the amount of HDL then might it not provide more possibility for the removal of harmful fat from the blood, hence there might be fewer clogged arteries and fewer heart attacks?

Apparently not.

The test subjects all had elevated LDL levels but were taking statins, like Lipitor and Zocor, to lower them. The wonder was that if, through Niacin supplements, the rate of heart attacks would go down when compared to a test group that was on statins as well but was taking a placebo instead of the Niacin.

It was discovered that there was no difference in the rate of heart attacks between the groups and in fact there was a slight increase in the rate of strokes for the Niacin users (though that had never been documented before) 

So, it seems, the search continues for ways to reduce the risk of heart attacks. There is a wonder if taking additional Niacin before the onset of elevated HDL numbers ( as a preventative) might be a good way to go. But that will not be known until further studies are done.

In the meantime, as always, consult with your physician before adding or subtracting supplements and meds to your regimen.

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