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High Cholesterol Message Board

High Cholesterol Board Index

Niacin has been used for cholesterol control for over 50 years. Some people can't tolerate the major side-effect, flushing, but there are ways around it. I've been taking Enduracin, an OTC sustained-release niacin for over two years. Costs me around five dollars a month. The sustained-release has far less problems with flushing. However, risks of liver damage are deemed to be greater than with immediate-release niacin. A editorial accompanying a research article on such niacins did, however, indicate "some brands are safe." I've had no indication of a change in my own liver enzymes since taking it, but just as with statins, one needs regular liver enzyme tests while taking high-dose niacin.

There is also a prescription niacin product called Niaspan. It is considered "extended release." As best I can tell, that is released slower than immediate release but faster than sustained release. At least from what patients are telling us on this board, it sounds that way, as it seems that people have more flushing with it than with the OTC sustained-release. If you have good prescription insurance coverage, you might want to consider the Niaspan as first alternative. No matter which niacin one takes, a person really needs to be under a doctor's care, though. You might want to do a web search for some of the research on niacin and cholesterol before you talk to the doctor about it.

Niacin therapy is better than statins in some respects (tends to increase HDL more) and worse than statins in others. Niacin doesn't seem to be pushed by the pharmaceutical companies as much as statins, and many doctors seem to have a love affair with statins. But if you can't tolerate statins, unless you have some conditions which contra-indicates it, niacin certainly sounds like a possibility. Talk to your doctor about it.

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