The term niacin might sound a bit too scientific but it is one of the most effective methods to control cholesterol. According to research, niacin or nicotinic acid which otherwise is known as Vitamin B3 has been traditionally used to treat and control cholesterol.
In fact, it is the safest and cheapest method of treatment which has been practiced for more than 60 years now. There are tens of thousands of scientific papers being written about this fact which among them include one of the most recent report published by a non-profit research group in Wichita, Kansas (USA) the OMNS (Orthomolecular Medicine News Service).
Controlling the cholesterol level in the body has been a common issue with people who are health-conscious for many years now where it has been related to many types of health-related problems and diseases. This includes hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and more prominently problems with the heart.
Niacin has been found to be a very safe option which helps to improve the levels of both good and bad cholesterols in the body. Although it is highly effective, a lot of doctors and pharmacists are reluctant to recommend them due to the simple reason of money.
The biggest factor about niacin is that they are very cheap and can be easily obtained in a lot of food in our daily diet. Food known to contain the most niacin is in peanuts which can be easily found in a simple serving of nasi lemak.
Malaysians who like their daily breakfast of nasi lemak will find that they would have consumed sufficient Vitamin B3 through the peanuts as well as in the dry anchovies (ikan bilis).
As mentioned, doctors and nutritionist are still very much trying to recommend the type of medication used to control cholesterol in the body because they are more expensive and rare. Niacin on the other hand can be purchased over-the-counter or just through the daily food intake.
In this context, it can be accepted that niacin can be takenby anyone and not just those with high cholesterol problems. Basically, people with complex lipid issues like low levels of HDL or Good cholesterol and high triglycerides should take niacin.
Those with high cholesterol and whose body cannot tolerate statin drugs would find niacin an effective method as well. In most cases, about 20 to 25% of statin drug users stop after a while as they might experience side effects.
What types of food contain niacin?
The highest contain of niacin is often found in peanut while our typical ikan bilis is another food known for its Vitamin B3 contents. Liver too might be recommended although this should be taken in moderation. Where possible, you should take more wheat flour or whole-meal food too. The locally and easily available ikan Bawal Hitam is another rich source while sardines which are canned too are recommended.
Are there side effects in Niacin?
There are certain reported side effects that you might experience when taking niacin. Known as the ‘Niacin Flush’, it is basically a temporary itch that comes out of the skin for about 1 hour and then disappears. Although it is totally harmless, patients are fast to conclude that niacin causes some sort of allergy effects to them.
This is another reason why doctors are fast not to recommend niacin to their patients. To avoid this, it is recommended that the patient take low dosage of niacin before increasing it gradually. Over time, they will find that the ‘rash’ would be very minimal or none at all.
Other known problems that patients experienced when taking niacin include flare-ups for those how have gout. According to reports, these effects are not as problematic as they seem. In fact, as compared to the side effects of statin drugs, such effects are safer in many ways.
There have been claims that niacin causes other problems like headaches and such when taken with other drugs. Those who are encouraging niacin however has been fast to defend this where niacin has been ‘victimized’ by those who are promoting other more expensive drugs simply because niacin is cheaper and easier to obtain.
To sum it all up, niacin is actually quite an effective method of controlling cholesterol in the body. This is a given fact considering all the scientific researches that have been undertaken. It is easily available over-the-counter while they are commonly found in our typical Malaysian food. It is cheap, which is why it is not as popular because the common preconception is that drugs are supposed to be expensive.