As most of you know, niacin (vitamin B3) is an important tool for many in the Track Your Plaque program.
--raises HDL cholesterol
--reduces small LDL
And it's the most potent agent we have for all three patterns, despite just being a vitamin. Niacin also reduces LDL cholesterol, VLDL, IDL, triglycerides; reduces heart attack risk dramatically either alone or in combination with other agents.
Unfortunately, some people who are either afraid of the "hot flush" side effect, or experience excessive degrees of it, have resorted to two preparations sold in stores that have none of these effects.
Most notorious is "No-flush" niacin , also known as inositol hexaniacinate. This compound is an inositol sugar molecule complexed with 6 ("hexa-") niacin molecules. Unfortunately, it exerts none of niacin's effects in the human body. No-flush niacin has no effect on HDL, small LDL, or Lp(a), nor on LDL or heart attack.
In short, no-flush niacin is a scam. It's also not cheap. I've met people who have spent hundreds of dollars on this agent before they realize that nothing is happening, including a flush.
Likewise, nicotinamide does not work. It sounds awfully close to the other name for niacin, nicotinic acid. But they are two different things. Like no-flush niacin, nicotinamide has no effect on HDL, small LDL, Lp(a), etc.
Though I've discussed this issue in past, somehow these two "supplements" seem to sneak back into people's consciousness. You walk down the health food store aisle and spy that bottle of X-brand No-flush niacin, promising all the benefits of niacin with none of the bother. Then you remember that rough night you spent a few months back when the hot flush lasted longer than usual. That's when some people end up buying this agent making extravagant--and false--promises.
For now, for all its imperfections, niacin is still a pretty darn good agent for these patterns. Remember that the best strategy to minimize the hot flush effect is to drink plenty of water. We generally recommend taking the dose at dinner along with water. If the hot flush occurs, drink two large glasses of water (total volume 16-24 oz). Nine times out of ten, the flush is gone. It also dissipates the longer you take niacin.