Nicotinic acid, or vitamin B3, is a form of niacin that has been shown to affect all aspects of the lipid profile, lowering LDL cholesterol by 15% to 25%, lowering triglycerides by 20% to 50%, and raising HDL cholesterol by 15% to 30%. The mechanism by which it does this is not known. However, previous studies have noted that nicotinic acid reduces the amount of LDL and VLDL cholesterol made by the liver.
While many supplements have not been proven effective in producing health results, this is not the case with niacin. Mayo Clinic gives niacin an “A” (the highest ranking) for the scientific evidence that it helps lower LDL cholesterol. According to the studies, the benefits of niacin also include increasing levels of HDL, also known as good cholesterol, and providing results superior to those of some prescriptions.
Patients on nicotinic acid are usually started on low daily doses and gradually increased to an average daily dose of 1.5 to 3 grams per day. All patients taking nicotinic acid to lower serum cholesterol should be closely monitored by their doctor to avoid complications from this medication.