According to authors "Niacin is the shortened name for nicotinic acid. Niacin and niacinamide, collectively referred to as nicotinates or vitamin B3, play an important role in protein, energy and fat metabolism". Both niacin and niacinamide are used in the following ways:
- Fortify such foods as flour
- Rice and ready-to-eat cereal
- Naturally in a wide range of fruits, vegetables and grains
One of eight B vitamins, the body needs approximately 2 milligrams of niacin per day to carry out basic chemical reactions related to metabolism. Excess amounts of niacin can be readily absorbed by the body and excreted through the urine. Thus toxicity is rarely and issue when dealing with this nutrient.
When it comes to niacin's effect on the body an exhaustive amount of research has considered how subtle increases in niacin intake can improve cholesterol levels for certain patients. Noting the benefits of extra niacin in the diet, An author reports, "Besides lowering LDL (low-density lipoprotein or "bad") cholesterol, niacin, in combination with vitamin C, can reduce the body's production of lipoprotein (a), a risk factor for heart disease". This treatment has found top be especially useful in patients suffering from diabetes. According to an author, utilizing extended-release niacin for patients with diabetes promulgated a decrease in the size of LDL cholesterol particle size and an overall increase of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) from 42 to 57 percent. Despite these findings, however, moderate increases in blood glucose levels were noted in 22 of 36 patients, promulgating Essig to warrant caution when utilizing this therapy for diabetic patients.
Further considering the use of niacin for use in diabetic patients, a writer from Paper Masters recommends that niacin may only be useful for the reduction of LDL particle size. Dyslipidemia, or the increase in cholesterol particle size is quite common in diabetes patients. Sadovsky notes that niacin may be useful "because it blocks fatty acid release from adipose tissue and decreases release of very-low-density lipoprotein. This latter effect reduces the number of small, dense LDL particles". Interestingly, however while Essig's studies showed increases in blood glucose levels for those that utilized niacin, Sadovsky's research suggests that fasting glucose levels are improved by utilizing niacin.