Annually, in the US around 1.5 million myocardial infarctions are reported among patients. The prevalence rate of the condition has been steadily increasing, and is presently 600 cases for 100,000 of the population. B vitamins are part of the intravenous injections and oral tablets administered to treat vitamin deficiencies and reduce risk of myocardial infarctions. Niacin, a B vitamin, is regarded as one of the popular choices for treating the condition. As with all medications and supplements, it is not free from undesirable effects. Here is a detailed look at the B vitamins, its specific uses and side effects of niacin to help users prevent and mitigate serious outcomes.
Overview of the B vitamin and side effects of niacin
As mentioned above, niacin is a B vitamin and in addition to treating the above conditions, it is also used for treating hypertriglyceridemia. It is also used for treating pellagra, hyperlipidemia, and dyslipidemia. It is generally administered either as a monotherapy or as combination medication when treating specific conditions. In addition to this, niacin is also recommended for managing atherosclerosis, among patients diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Before we look at the side effects of niacin here is an understanding of the mechanism of action of the B vitamin. Niacin is credited with various actions/functions in the body, and therefore the mechanism of action also varies.
Descriptions of all the mechanisms of action will effectively be extensive, and therefore here is a look at some of the key actions. Niacin is known to reduce lipids and lipoproteins that contain apolipoprotein B. This is achieved by controlling triglyceride synthesis that occurs in the liver. Additionally niacin is also known to inhibit hepatocyte diacylglycerol acyltransferase-2 which results in a reduction of triglycerides, which in turn results in a decrease in low density lipoproteins levels. Additionally, niacin is also known to bring about an increase in high density lipoprotein levels.
Outcomes from the actions of niacin and side effects of niacin
The actions of niacin are responsible for turning food into energy that is required in the body for various functions. It is vital for the smooth functioning of the nervous system, and the digestive system. Additionally, it reportedly plays a role in skin health. Overall, the role of niacin as a B vitamin is critical for multiple functions in the body. Here is a quick look at the recommended daily requirements of B vitamins before we look at side effects of niacin. Most individuals receive the daily required levels of B vitamins through dietary intake. For instance, a well-balanced diet comprising yeast, milk products, dairy products are regarded as a good source of B vitamins. In addition, products such as tortillas and cereal grains are also considered as the right source of B vitamins.
Ideally, the recommended daily average of B vitamins is 16 milligrams for male adults and for female adults, the daily recommended average is 14 milligrams. Pregnant women are recommended a slightly higher dosage top meet the extra nutritional requirements of the fetus. B vitamins are essential for helping reduce birth defects and also for helping the baby develop. One of the key areas of focus of healthcare during pregnancies is to ensure that there are no deficiencies and in pursuance of this, pregnant women are recommended a higher daily average.
Uses of B vitamins for various conditions and side effects of niacin
A better understanding of the side effects of niacin is possible when users get to learn all about the specific uses of the vitamins. It is used for treating individuals with high cholesterol levels. The specific action in such cases is an increase in HDL levels and this results in an indirect reduction of LDL levels. An increase in good cholesterol levels brings about a reduction in bad cholesterol levels and this helps individuals achieve control in cholesterol.
Another condition that is treated with niacin is restoring vitamin levels to make up for deficiency, in a condition known as pellagra. This is a deficiency, that is typically managed with a combination of niacin and niacinamide which helps restore the levels of the B vitamins. While this condition isn’t common in the US, the chances of its prevalence cannot be ruled out. This deficiency is responsible for various birth defects, and the supplement is used to help make up for the deficiency.
Commonly reported side effects of niacin
The B vitamin is regarded as relatively safe with a limited number of commonly reported side effects of niacin. The commonly reported side effects are mild in nature and resolve naturally without the need for any medical intervention. In a limited number of cases, when the effects are persistent or intense in nature, it may be necessary to seek medical assistance. The best option is to ensure that the intake is within the recommended limits for various conditions. This will prevent the manifestation of undesirable effects. A common link among patients who have reported side effects of niacin is high doses that are typically prescribed for certain conditions.
For instance, patients have reported a sudden increase in heart beat rate as a result of the B vitamin prescription tablet. Similarly, patients have also reportedly ended up with gout as a result of the B vitamins. Damage to the liver is another possibility, while some patients have been diagnosed with diabetes or increase in blood sugar levels as a result of long-term use of the medication. Other manifestations include pain in the abdomen that is not attributed to any other condition, while some patients have bouts of diarrhea. This may or may not be accompanied by vomiting or nausea. Patients have also experienced a severe itching sensation that is not linked to other conditions. Visible symptoms include a flushed look or appearance on the skin that is generally accompanied by dizzy feelings.
Serious side effects of niacin
Apart from the above undesirable effects, there is also the possibility of serious side effects of niacin. While the prevalence rate or rate of occurrence of serious effects is relatively low, it cannot be completely ruled out, as mentioned earlier. This is typically observed in patients who have consumed higher quantities of the B vitamins. For instance, the serious side effects of niacin are typically reported by patients on dosages between 2000 to 6000 mg per day. Overdoses require medical intervention at the earliest. Patients diagnosed with liver conditions or peptic ulcer are advised to reduce the intake of niacin. Similarly, patients with low blood pressure, medically known as hypotension, are also advised to reduce intake of the B vitamins. Higher quantities have been responsible for hypotension, possible damage to the liver and elevated risk of peptic ulcer, and all three conditions are considered as serious in nature.
On a similar note, individuals with a history of allergies are also at risk of experiencing an aggravation of the condition. This also applies for patients diagnosed with gall bladder disease and certain thyroid disorders. As mentioned in the commonly reported side effects of niacin, the B vitamins can also result in elevated blood sugar levels, and this condition can turn serious in nature, depending on the condition. It is therefore regarded as a serious undesirable effect, especially for diabetics. By virtue of its mechanism of action, niacin triggers an increase in uric acid levels in the blood, and this could result in gout. Hyperuricemia typically manifests in patients diagnosed with arthritis gout, and it is therefore necessary for patients with the condition to exercise complete caution.
The need to take B vitamins may sometimes be compelling, for instance, in the case of pregnant women. However, extreme caution is to be exercised by pregnant women when taking niacin for managing cholesterol levels. The benefits and the risks are to be weighed and assessed before taking the B vitamins to avoid side effects of niacin. While it is required to help make up for niacin deficiency and also to prevent the onset of birth defects, it is also necessary to take it only when the benefits outweigh the risks.
Side effects of niacin : interactions with drugs and products
Apart from side effects of niacin that could be experienced by patients on prescription dosages, there is also the possibility of interactions. For instance, individuals consuming alcohol, while on niacin are likely to experience liver related complications. This could aggravate existing liver ailments or could result in possible damage to the liver. Certain side effects of niacin such as flushing or itching sensation may also aggravate as a result of interactions. Patients on medications classified as anticoagulant or anti-platelets may be exposed to elevated risk of bleeding. These medications are intended to reduce blood clotting, and when taken in combination with B vitamins, may result in increased bleeding.
Similarly, patients on certain medications for treating blood pressure may find that blood pressure levels decrease considerably if niacin is taken alongside the medications. This is attributed to the effect of B vitamins on blood pressure medication, resulting in increased outcomes, triggering hypotension among patients. Similarly, patients on medications for diabetes are also expected to go in for altered dosages to counter the possible side effects of niacin when taken alongside drugs for diabetes. Other possible interactions include effects when taken alongside medications known as hepatotoxic drugs; wherein the patient is at risk of possible liver damage.
Precautions that need to be taken to avoid side effects of niacin
Certain precautions help avoid undesirable effects. For instance, individuals diagnosed with stomach ulcers are to avoid the B vitamins. Patients with any liver complications are to avoid taking niacin. Similarly, individuals who are known to suffer from bleeding related complications are to avoid taking niacin.