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How Do I Determine the Appropriate Niacin Dosage?

Side effects of niacin include stomach discomfort.
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  • Written By: Cheryl Pokalo Jones
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2014
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Niacin, one of the B vitamins, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels. Although a healthy balanced diet provides adequate levels of niacin, you might need a supplement, especially if you need niacin to control your cholesterol levels. Niacin dosage is tricky because the vitamin is associated with side effects that can be serious. The appropriate dosage varies from person to person, but the average daily dose to reduce cholesterol in adults is between 500 milligrams and 2,000 milligrams daily.

Vitamin B3, or niacin, is water-soluble, which means that the body cannot store it. Adequate levels of niacin are usually obtained through the diet. The recommended daily allowances of the vitamin vary depending on age and gender. Men 19 or older should have 16 milligrams of niacin daily, and women older than 19 require 14 milligrams. Women who are pregnant should have 18 milligrams daily, and those who are breastfeeding should have 17 milligrams.

A higher niacin dosage is necessary when the vitamin is used to control cholesterol levels. The average adult daily dose to lower cholesterol is 500-2,000 milligrams. The dosage rarely is higher than 3,000 milligrams daily. The tablets or capsules are taken once to three times a day, depending on your specific needs.

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Your exact niacin dosage must be determined by your healthcare provider. When determining your dose, your doctor will consider your diet, overall health and the medical condition being treated. Your condition determines the potency of the supplement, the timing of the doses, the number of doses to be taken each day and the duration of the treatment. Niacin supplements are available as tablets or capsules in regular and timed-release formulations.

Niacin is associated with potentially serious side effects. It often causes flushing and itchy skin when you begin taking it. You likely will begin treatment with a low niacin dosage, gradually increasing the dosage until you reach the necessary level. The flushing will decrease as your body adjusts to the supplements.

Your liver might become inflamed while you take niacin supplements. Other side effects include blurred vision, high blood glucose levels, flu-like symptoms, stomach discomfort and darkened skin. These side effects resolve when the niacin dosage is decreased. Your healthcare provider will monitor your liver function while you take the vitamin supplement to watch for signs of toxicity.

Be sure to take the dosage as instructed by your healthcare provider, and do not increase or decrease the niacin dosage without specific instructions. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember, if it is not too close to your next dose. Do not take double doses. Do not take a niacin supplement without consulting your healthcare provider.

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