Niacin opens blood vessels wider. Niacin, when used properly, offers benefits in terms of cholesterol reduction, as well as for detoxification.
Niacin is a water-soluble B vitamin – vitamin B3 - and the common name for 2 very different compounds: "nicotinic acid" and "niacinamide". High doses of niacin (as nicotinic acid) can lower cholesterol levels (although the exact mechanism of action is still not known). The other form of niacin (nicotinamide or niacinamide) does not open blood vessels wider nor provide a cholesterol-lowering effect.
Niacin and detoxification of fatty tissues
There are many 'detoxification programs' on the internet, but few of them acknowledge the significant fact that many toxins are stored in FATTY TISSUES. Until that fact is acknowledged, one can not develop a procedure for removing toxins from THAT location.
The niacin "flush"
It's important to note that this niacin flush is not harmful or dangerous. Some people worry about it, but it is actually a sign of improved blood flow.
When you get the niacin "flush", it's an indication that the niacin is causing small blood vessels in your body to be expanded in size. Many of your small blood vessels, called "capilaries" are so small that blood cells can only go through them in single file. Sometimes, in fact, that small capilary passageway is clogged and blood doesn't get through at all.
While the large organs of the body all have blood supplied from large arteries, a great deal of your body, particularly the parts near the skin, get their ONLY supply of blood (therefore also of oxygen and nutrients) from these small capillaries.
The niacin causes these small capilaries to expand - so they might be able to carry 2 or 3 blood cells at the same time. This is a tremendous increase in blood flow.
You experience this as a "flushing" of the skin, simply because there is more blood close to the surface of the body. As the blood flows in these areas, the cells of the small capilaries will also be getting rid of their waste products, and often they produce 'histamine' as part of this process. That histamine is another natural substance produced by every cell in the body when a cell is under attack, or is eliminating toxins. Histamine causes an 'itchy' feeling.
There are several precautions which one needs to implement however when one uses niacin. Niacin usually has a "flush effect" - which is not harmful - associated with it which is very similar to the hot flashes women experience during menopause. Niacin supplements are available in regular and “timed-release” forms. Timed-release versions of niacin have been made available to avoid this "flush" effect. The problem with most TIMED-RELEASED niacin is that they are associated with a high degree of liver problems.
The timed-release forms of nicotinic acid are intended for a prolonged release of niacin during its 6-8 hour transit time in the intestines, but timed-release niacin is also associated with greater toxicity and safe doses are only about half of normal-release forms of niacin.
In the high doses used for controlling cholesterol levels (anything above 100mg/day), nicotinic acid can cause skin flushing and skin itching as well as headaches, lightheadedness and low blood pressure. The niacinamide form of niacin does not cause these side effects, but it is not effective in reducing cholesterol levels, so it is seldom taken in such high doses. The slow-release versions of niacin supplements have the potential for causing liver damage (even at “lower” doses of 500mg/day) - so blood tests to monitor for liver damage are recommended and high-dose niacin supplementation should only be undertaken under the guidance of a natural physician. Anyone with liver disease, including those who consume more than 2 drinks of alcohol daily, should not take high-dose niacin.