General effects, Cardiovascular disease, Cleansing, Flush & Sex, Tolerance & Flush, Dosage & Warnings, Contradictions, and Special Comments for the first flush.
Vitamin B3 exists in two forms, as nicotinic acid (niacin) and as nicotinamide. Generally the effects are similar, but they can be different, and even opposite in a few ways. The most striking example of the latter is that high dose niacinamide can cause depression, while high dose niacin can cure it.
We probably need both, but niacin is the the more powerful one of the two, and the one which is suitable for high dose supplementation - sometimes with dramatic health effects. It is also the only vitamin that can give an effect which can be clearly perceived after just one intake. This is called a niacin flush. It is harmless, although it scares some people. We will discuss that further below.
In this text, "B3" always refer to the form "niacin".
B3 is essential for the metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, with an especially strong effect on the glucose metabolism. (In laboratory studies, it has been impossible to generate diabetes with rats getting high dose niacin.)
It normalises blood pressure and blood cholesterol. (For more on this see section III below.)
The nervous system is strongly affected. Niacin has been shown to improve reaction time and memory.
When you expose your skin to sunlight, niacin will make you develop protective pigment faster - your skin tans more easily. By that the risk of getting malignant melanoma is reduced. But don't expose your skin to direct sunlight while you have a niacin flush.
High dose B3 stimulates the production or release of many hormones, especially sex hormones, cortisone, thyroxine, insulin, and GH (growth hormone). The levels of these hormones mostly decrease with age. By stimulating their production and release, ageing is retarded and the whole organism is rejuvenated.
This is much safer than taking hormones as they are. You will produce your own, in the correct ratio to avoid imbalances. If you take a hormone preparation, you can expect to cause imbalance - with serious side-effects, sometimes lethal, as a consequence.
Here is a little tip if you train to build muscles: GH (growth hormone) contributes to the building of muscular tissue and the breaking down of fat. A high level of GH in the blood during training makes it more effective. Many athletes and body builders take GH preparations for this purpose. This is risky, since it causes imbalance in the body, and there are side-effects.
Instead, take 250-500mg niacin on an empty stomach ca 2 hours before training. You get the same positive effect without the side-effects. The niacin causes a release of GH (of your own production). The level of GH in the blood reaches its peak 2-3 hours after niacin intake on an empty stomach. If you have eaten prior to the intake, it will take longer.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one human killer – the world's dominating cause of death. Two factors of this problem are high (and wrong) blood fats, respective high blood pressure. These are symptoms often treated as if they were a cause, and there are a lot of medical drugs in use to affect them in the right direction. It is no exaggeration to say that none of these drugs comes without very serious side-effects, even if they are not often discussed.
Studies have been done using niacin instead. The results are overwhelming. Niacin is more effective than any known medicine, both for adjusting the blood fats and for lowering high blood pressure. And it comes without any negative side-effects, because niacin is a vitamin; it is no drug, but very concentrated food.
Moreover, niacin normalises blood pressure and blood fats. Unlike medical drugs, it will never go too far. It doesn't lower a blood pressure that's not too high, and so on. It makes you cleaner and takes you closer to your optimal status.
It has also shown to reverse artery disease.
The metabolism of every cell leaves a residue, toxic waste. Under ideal conditions, this waste is continuously cleansed out - from the cell into the blood, then further to the excreting systems and out of the body.
Modern life, a polluted environment, and a diet poor in essential nutrients over-strain the cleansing mechanism; waste is gradually accumulated in the cell until it blocks its proper function. A serious condition that leads to disease, accelerated ageing, and ultimately death.
Here B3 plays an important role. It appears to push toxic waste out of the cells. The mechanism behind this is still not understood, but it is not necessary to understand it to benefit from it.
The first time you take high dose niacin you will probably be shocked by the flush. Your skin becomes red and warm, a condition which lasts 20-30 minutes. This is not in the least harmful. The cause is a release of histamine, which dilates the blood vessels. Some people feel uncomfortable by this, while others like it. Whichever is the case with you - do not let it scare you from taking niacin further. (It has been questioned if the flush is really caused by histamine and there are some studies indicating that so is not the case, but so far the question is not conclusively answered.)
This dilation of the vessels improves blood circulation. It is especially marked in the skin and the brain.
During sexual stimulation, histamine is released in a similar way, and it causes a "sex-flush". Basically this is the same as a niacin flush, although the latter can be stronger. The histamine release of a niacin flush also causes other biochemical changes, which are otherwise related to sexual stimulation. These changes are healing and rejuvenating.
The question which follows naturally is whether niacin affects sexual functions, and the answer is yes, indeed it does. Especially if taken prior to sex, it increases sensation and the ability for orgasm(s). It is a very pro-sexual nutrient.
After some days of taking high dose niacin, you probably develop tolerance - which means that your regular dose will no longer generate a flush. If you want one, for sexual or other reasons, just take an occasional higher dose, or avoid taking niacin for some days (the tolerance will be lost), and start anew. Taking the niacin on an empty stomach will increase the chance to get a flush.
Tolerance does not mean that other effects of high dose niacin intake would be lost. If you dislike the flush, you need not worry about it for more than a few days, since the tolerance will reduce it. Yet you will notice that the reaction might vary from day to day, both in strength and duration. It's not always obvious why. It must be due to various internal and external factors, some of which we are not always aware of. Generally, the noticeable reaction diminishes and eventually disappears completely with tolerance, but occasionally there can still be stronger reactions.
One thing that does affect this is the amount of liquid flowing through your body. That is, if you consume and release more liquid, you will also lessen the amount of active B3 in the blood - you also lose B3 by sweating (but don't see that as bad, when you sweat B3 will wash out toxins from the cells' interior).
The less B3 in the body, the less tolerance. Thus you can expect a stronger reaction the day after much sweating and drinking.
This is just one factor I know influences the strength of the reaction, but there are many others and I don't pretend to know them all. I'm sometimes surprised by an occasional strong reaction myself, without having any rational explanation for it. I have used high dose B3 regularly since about 1990 and I'm still unable to predict my reaction from day to day.
For women in fertile age, I have observed that it might change a little with the menstruation cycle, peaking around ovulation, which suggests that more B3 is used by the body then (so the B3 concentration in the body becomes less and the reaction stronger). I have no further explanation tto that, but we know that B3 is highly involved in all sexual functions and that it increases fertility in both sexes.
The official RDA (recommended daily allowance) is ca 12-20mg for adults, depending on which listing one chooses. This is only what you need to avoid getting acute symptoms of pellagra. For optimal health, the required dose is much higher.
Healthy individuals can safely take 250-1000mg per day. Divide the intake over the day. Never take more than 500mg at the same time. In general, up to 2000mg per day is considered as safe, but I would suggest you to take no more than 1000mg without professional guidance. Niacin is a powerful substance.
5000mg per day has successfully been used in cases of schizophrenia, or for short intensive cleansing programs. Doses of this size can be harmful, especially for the pancreas, the liver, or the gall-bladder, and should never be taken unless you are under the supervision of a competent professional.
If you have any problem related to heart, liver or kidneys, or any serious disease - ask your doctor before using B3 in any amount over 250mg per day.
If you have gastric ulcer, you should take B3 only in connection with food. Nicotinic acid (niacin) is very acidic and can irritate the ulcer. Alternatively, you can combine it with an antacid, but avoid those containing sodium or aluminium.
If you take medicine for some hormone related ailment - including diabetes - you should be careful with high dose B3. It can reduce your need for medicine to such an extent that your regular medication becomes a strong overdose. If you belong to this category, consult a professional before experimenting.
High dose niacin should not be taken by pregnant women.
B3 dissolves fats. This is very good for cardiovascular health, and it makes it easier to burn fat deposits, but it might cause the skin to become drier. If you already have a dry skin, that might become a problem with very high doses.
On the other hand, when your organism is gradually rejuvenated, the skin naturally ought to become more oily. Dry skin is a marker of ageing - degenerative disease. B3, adjusting the hormonal balance, might also work it in that direction.
For those of you who are using psyllium, be aware that it conflicts with B3 and they may neutralise each other's effects. The solution is not to take B3 the first 8 hours after taking psyllium, and not psyllium the first 30 minutes after having taken B3.
B3 is assimilated early in the intestinal channel, after 30 minutes it's gone and has reached the blood. Psyllium stays longer, but has passed by the area where B3 is absorbed with a good margin after 8 hours.
Salicylic acid is another substance that conflicts with niacin. Do not take salicylic acid before niacin without letting at least 3 hours pass in between.
The flush brings blood to the outer and inner surfaces of the body. The skin becomes red. It begins in face, neck and arms, but if the reaction is strong, it spreads over the whole body within a few minutes. If it is really strong, you can get a blue-red hue, but it is still not dangerous. You are not dying, as many users have seriously believed the first time they experience a niacin flush.
You become warm. It's like heat spreads in the body; someone has described it as if a fire was spreading inside.
In the next step you feel cold, because all the blood in the skin gets cooled by being on the surface. You are still red, and warm inside, but cold on the outside. You can feel as if freezing, and you can also feel various sensations of the skin. It can itch, or sting, and if you touch it, you feel that your sense of feeling is enhanced.
Then everything subsides in half an hour or so.
How strong a reaction you get and how fast it comes depends on a number of factors.
If you have recently eaten when taking the B3 => less reaction. The food in the stomach absorbs the vitamin which in reality becomes a slow-release vitamin reaching the blood slowly and gradually as the food is digested, instead of all of it at the same time. The whole flush can be absent!
If you have been taking it for some time and are developing tolerance => less reaction.
If you take it on an otherwise empty stomach, and take it with a glass of ascorbic acid, apple cider vinegar, or Molkosan => stronger reaction. But this is very acidic for the stomach, so do this only if your stomach tolerates it.
Stay away from products marketed as non-flushing niacin! This is not the real thing and does not provide all the benefits of normal niacin.
Other articles related to vitamins/nutrients:
Why Dietary Supplements are Needed
Supplements, Getting Them Right: Some Points to Consider
Iron & Cancer
Co-Enzyme Q10 & Carnitine
Lutein & Zeaxanthin: Nutrients that Protect Your Eyes from Ageing
Not Only Beta-Carotene: Carotenoids (Carotenes & Xanthophylls)
Salicylic Acid: Is Aspirin a Vitamin?
Vitamin A - Function & Need
Vitamin D – Underrated Vitamin?
Copyright © 2013, 2019, 2021 Meleonymica/Mictorrani. All Rights Reserved.
Here you find my articles related to nutrients & supplements (vitamins, minerals, etc.) and here to health & medicine.
(The lead image shows "Vitamins". Photo by Fruzsina Sz/Pixabay, CC0/Public Domain.)
Interested in health & medicine, join my community "The Mechanisms of Health (d52e)"
You find all my writings on Read.Cash, sorted by topic, here.