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Along with diet and exercise, treatment to lower cholesterol may include the B vitamin niacin combined with other drugs, such as statins. Niacin is available by prescription, and over-the-counter as a dietary supplement. (The dietary supplement form is not recommended for lowering cholesterol.) Take niacin only under a doctor’s guidance.
Niacin helps lower triglyceride levels and increase High-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol, which carries fat away from arteries. It also helps reduce the production of Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol.
Some formulations cause skin flushing, which can be controlled by changing the dosage or time of day taken, taking niacin with food, or trying a different drug combination. Large doses of niacin over a long time can cause liver damage. Because of possible side effects and potential interactions with other medicines and supplements, work closely with your doctor when taking niacin.
The dietary supplement niacin should not be used to lower cholesterol. It is not regulated by the FDA.
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