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Niacin supplements may need to be taken when there is not enough of this vitamin in the body. It is used to lower cholesterol, decrease the risk of recurring heart attacks, and treat coronary artery disease. Of course, like any drug, niacin does come with some negative side effects, some of which are quite common. For example, flushing of the skin, rashes, and gastrointestinal issues may occur in many people who take this pill. Some side effects of niacin that are considered more serious include difficulty breathing, fainting, blurred vision, darker skin, and severe heartburn.
This supplement is often needed when there is not enough niacin in the body, as it is not stored in the fat so it gets flushed out often. The main reason to take extra niacin is typically to treat high cholesterol, as well as to decrease the risk of heart attack in those who have already had one before due to high cholesterol. It can also help treat coronary artery disease, as well as a condition called pellagra. This condition develops as a result of too little niacin in the diet, with symptoms that include skin disease, diarrhea, and depression, and niacin supplements can cure it.
While there are many positive effects of niacin, there are some unappealing side effects, as well. One of the most common types is flushing of the skin, which is often marked by red, itchy, warm, or tingly skin. This side effect usually improves once niacin is taken for a long period of time, but it can also get worse when alcohol or hot beverages are consumed directly after taking the supplement. Gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and flatulence are also common side effects of niacin. These may go away over time, or with reduced dosages, though many people find that the positive effects are worth dealing with these minor issues.
There are some negative effects of niacin that call for medical attention when noticed, but they are rarer than just flushing or gastrointestinal issues. Some people have difficulty breathing and may feel dizzy, and should get medical treatment right away. Issues such as increased skin pigmentation, blurred vision, and severe heartburn should be mentioned to a doctor as soon as possible so that the dosage can be lowered. Other rare effects of niacin include scaly, dry skin, peptic ulcers, jaundice, liver inflammation, and elevated blood sugar, all of which should be mentioned to a doctor.