Treatment to lower cholesterol may include the B vitamin niacin combined with other medicines, such as statins. Niacin is available by prescription. It is also sold over-the-counter as a dietary supplement. (The dietary supplement form is not recommended for lowering cholesterol.) Take niacin only under a healthcare provider’s guidance.
Niacin helps lower triglyceride levels and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol carries fat away from arteries. Niacin also helps reduce the production of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol.
Some forms of niacin cause skin flushing. This can be controlled by changing the dosage or time of day taken, taking niacin with food, or trying a different medicine combination. Large doses of niacin over a long time can cause liver damage. There are possible side effects from niacin. And niacin may interact with other medicines and supplements. So work closely with your healthcare provider when taking niacin.
The dietary supplement niacin should not be used to lower cholesterol. It is not regulated by the FDA.