Niacin (Vitamin B3) and the Niacin Flush
Niacin is a water-soluble B vitamin, called vitamin B3. Other forms of niacin like nicotinamide, niacinamide and non-flushing types (timed-released) do not provide the benefits that “true” niacin does.
The Niacin Flush
An important characteristic of “true” niacin is that it causes a flush, which means it is opening up the small blood vessels and capillaries, so more blood flows through them. These are the blood vessels that are of most value in reaching fatty tissues.
Therefore toxins which are stored in fatty tissues are moved into the bloodstream and processed out of the body. Other forms such as like nicotinamide, niacinamide and non-flushing types do not cause dilation of the blood vessels.
Timed-release versions of niacin have been made available to avoid the “flush” effect. The problem with most timed-released niacin is that they are associated with a high degree of liver problems. Timed-released 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 much lower than the normal-release forms of “true” niacin.
It’s important to note that the flush caused by niacin is not harmful or dangerous. It is actually a sign of improved blood flow and oxygenation the blood.
When you get a niacin “flush” it’s an indication that the niacin is causing small blood vessels in your body to expand in size. Many of your small blood vessels, called “capillaries” are so small that blood cells can only go through them in single file. And sometimes small capillaries are clogged so blood can’t get through. Blood carries nutrients, hormones, oxygen and other vital substances to every cell in the body.
It is the capillaries that take care of the vast majority of all cells in the body. There are large arteries near the heart, and they get smaller and smaller as they extend from the heart. At the end of every large artery is a very large network of capillaries, with a high number of them near the surface of the skin.
Niacin causes even the tiniest capillaries to expand so they are able to carry 2 or 3 blood cells at the same time. This means a tremendous increase in blood flow, nutrients, oxygen, hormones and other vital substances to the areas supplied by these capillaries.
Flushing causes the skin to turn red and tingle, and it will feel hot and itchy. This particularly happens to the face, neck, and ears. Dry skin has also been experienced. The hot feeling is similar to “hot flashes” experienced by women during menopause. “Flushing” occurs because the capillaries are opening up in the skin.
As the blood flows in these areas it helps the cells of the blood vessels and capillaries get rid of their waste products, which is less able to happen without a good blood flow. This also increases the production of ‘histamines.’ Histamines are a natural substance produced by every cell in the body when it is under attack and it carries away the toxins. Histamine is what causes itching.
Niacin should always be taken with vitamin B complex – for details on taking niacin and vitamin B complex see the article titled ‘Obtain Nutrients Through Supplements.’
The Benefits of Niacin
- Niacin dilates (opens up, makes wider) all blood vessels in the body, including the tiniest capillaries. This is also called vasodilation.
- Niacin is a respiratory vitamin that oxgenates the body – scroll down the bottom of this article to see other nutrients that are also oxygenating: The Prime Cause & Prevention of Cancer by Warburg.
- Toxins are mostly stored in fatty tissues in the body in order to protect vital organs. Niacin helps remove these toxins when it is accompanied by a diet containing plenty of good saturated fats, i.e. coconut oil, butter, lard, fish oil and other natural occurring fats from meats and eggs.
- Niacin works with other B vitamins to convert proteins, fats and carbohydrates into energy.
- Niacin promotes a healthy appetite and aids digestion by increasing the product of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
- Niacin improves circulation.
- Niacin is required for maintaining healthy skin.
- Niacin aids in the functioning of the nervous system.
- Niacin helps lower blood pressure.
- Niacin processes alcohol in the blood stream.
- Niacin helps in the formation of red blood cells.
- Niacin also helps the body make various sex and stress-related hormones in the adrenal glands and other parts of the body.
- Protection against and detoxification of toxins, pollutants, drugs, alcohol, narcotics, etc.
- Niacin can relieve migraine headache.
- Niacin may also help prevent or treat mental disorders.
- Niacin is essential for the activity of many enzymes in the body.
The Niacin Flush Will Not Always Occur
Depending on what part of your body your energy is being used to detoxify, the Niacin Flush may not always occur. However, it is important to understand what the Niacin Flush is, when it does happen – so you know that your body is detoxifying correctly, and it is not an adverse reaction.
Many acne sufferers have reported that the Niacin Flush is stronger when they are on the program completely (consuming high fats, and low carbohydrates) as your body is more capable of detoxifying under the correct conditions.