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What Is the Connection Between Niacin and Blood Pressure?

A doctor checking a patient's blood pressure.
When blood vessels narrow, it can raise blood pressure.
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  • Written By: Christina Crockett
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 30 March 2014
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The connection between niacin and blood pressure lies in the vitamin’s ability to improve or open the blood vessels so that blood can flow more freely. There are many factors that cause high blood pressure. The appropriate doses of a niacin supplement, however, can help to regulate blood pressure.

One of the eight essential B vitamins, niacin is also known as vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid, and it helps the body convert food such as carbohydrates into glucose, which is used as fuel and burned for energy. A water-soluble vitamin, meaning that it doesn’t get stored in the body, niacin is found in many foods, and people rarely suffer from niacin deficiency. Niacin plays an important role in cell metabolism, as do all B vitamins, and it helps the body metabolize fats and proteins.

Niacin also has two other forms, called niacinamide or nicotinamide and inositol hexanicotinate. These additional forms of B vitamins have different effects from niacin. It's important for one to choose nicotinic acid over the other forms when one is concerned about both niacin and blood pressure.

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Niacin and blood pressure are connected, in that the vitamin has been suggested to help lower high levels of bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides, or fats, and to raise the amount of the good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the blood. High blood pressure is related to high cholesterol and amounts of fat in the blood. Niacin helps lower blood pressure by helping to clear fats and bad cholesterol from the bloodstream and to open arteries.

Caution must be taken when one is administering high levels of niacin. Side effects of niacin include hot flashes called niacin flushes. These are acceptable, because they mean that the vitamin is working by opening the arteries.

Niacin and blood pressure can both be regulated if one starts with a supplement of 100 milligrams of niacin per day and increases it by 250 milligrams per week. This can help to lower blood pressure. No more than 750 milligrams of niacin should be taken in one serving. Servings can be broken into several per day.

Many people might not even realize that they have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. It's necessary to get checked at least once a year by a doctor. Blood pressure is the force of blood from the heart as it travels through arteries. The pressure reading is a result of the force of blood and the condition of the arteries.

Blood pressure is read in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The top number is the systolic reading, or the pressure created when the heart beats. It is considered high when it is more than 120. The bottom number is the diastolic reading, or the pressure between heartbeats. It is considered high when it is more than 90.

High blood pressure can be a result of many health factors. Left untreated, it can cause stroke, heart attack and kidney failure. High blood pressure can be hereditary or the result of certain medications, drugs, alcohol or illnesses, including obesity. It is also directly related to how much salt and water are in the body, hormone levels and the condition of certain organs, such as the kidneys, nervous system and blood vessels.

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