Possible Benefits and Risks
Niacin (nicotinic acid) is vitamin B
. In high doses (often 1,500 mg daily or more), niacin is effective in lowering cholesterol levels. Its other form, niacinamide (nicotinamide), does not affect cholesterol.
Combining high-dose niacin with statin drugs further improves cholesterol profile by raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Unfortunately, there are real concerns that this combination therapy could cause a potentially fatal condition of muscle breakdown called rhabdomyolysis.
A growing body of evidence, however, suggests that the risk is relatively slight in individuals with healthy kidneys. Furthermore, even much lower doses of niacin than the usual dose given to improve cholesterol levels (100 mg versus 1,000 mg or more) may provide a similar benefit.
At this dose, the risk of rhabdomyolysis should be decreased.
Nonetheless, it is not safe to try this combination except under close physician supervision.