Dr. Sunil - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Sunil

Is Niacin (drug) Bad For You?

Also Known As: Niaspan, Niacor



Short answer

Niacin is a drug that is often recommended for those with high cholesterol, with the added benefit of protecting against heart attacks. Studies, however, are showing that the medication may not be effective in protecting the heart at all, and if taken excessively can put individuals at a greater risk for other health problems.



Long answer

Niacin is a vitamin B pill which can be taken on its own or combined with supplements. The pill is most often used for lowering cholesterol. It may also be recommended to those with high cholesterol, who have already had a heart attack, to help prevent another heart attack from occurring. For those who take Niacin, it's important to follow doctor instructions and take exactly the recommended amount each day in order to prevent potential health problems.

There are several side effects that have been noted with niacin use. Itchy, red skin is one of the most common (also known as niacin flush). It has also been found to cause dizziness and lightheadedness, along with nausea and vomiting. These are all seen as "nuisance side effects" but it's worth noting that these symptoms alone are enough to cause many people to stop taking the medication early on. There is some concern that Niacin can also cause liver damage. This risk is more of a concern for those who drink alcohol in addition to taking Niacin. While these are all relatively common medication side effects, there are some more serious claims being made against Niacin.

Within the past few years, studies have been done to determine if Niacin is actually effective in protecting against heart attacks at all. While the medication does increase healthy cholesterol, the studies concluded that there was no reduction in the risk of heart attack or stroke. In the course of these studies, it was also found that those taking Niacin were possibly at higher risk for serious health problems including increased risk of infection, gastrointestinal bleeding, and diabetes.

Possible short-term side effects

  • itchy, red skin
  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Possible long-term side effects

  • liver damage (especially w/ alcohol)
  • infection
  • gastrointestinal bleeding
  • diabetes

Possible withdrawal symptoms

  • stress / anxiety
  • irritability
  • pain
  • muscle spasms

Ingredients to be aware of


  • promotes "good" cholesterol
  • relieves arthritis
  • promotes better sleep

Healthier alternatives

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Rachel Adams
Published on: 12-28-2015
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Rachel Adams
Published on: 12-28-2015
Last updated: 12-10-2016

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