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How do I Determine the Appropriate Niacin Dosage?

By Cheryl Pokalo Jones
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

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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Discussion Comments

By anon1006177 — On Feb 10, 2022

Niacin has been identified as a key ingredient for both longevity studies and healthy aging. Since both forms of niacine were tested and found to have positive benefits, I suppose it is up to you. Niacin can be converted into niacinamide inside the body.

By anon993392 — On Nov 11, 2015

Ysmina, take niacin on a full stomach while your body is getting used to it. I also take an aspirin with it. I no longer experience the flush or itching. I started taking niacin just this week. The first night, I took it on an empty stomach and wow! I itched for hours. I take 500 mg.

By ysmina — On Feb 14, 2015

I realize that more and more people are using niacin for cholesterol but I personally don't believe that this is the best treatment. I too tried it but was disappointed. Rather large doses are recommended for positive effects on cholesterol like 1,000-2000mg/day. But I experienced lots of issues at this dosage, the main one being terrible flushing that made me look like I had sunburn. It also made me itch like I was having an allergic reaction.

I've come to know now that many people on high doses of niacin experience the same issues. I no longer feel that this is a safe option for reducing bad cholesterol. It's better to avoid animal fats and increase healthy fats in the diet like walnuts.

By burcinc — On Feb 13, 2015

@discographer-- Yes, it's water soluble but that doesn't mean that you can't overdose on it. If you are already getting sufficient amounts of niacin through your diet, or if you take very high doses at once, you can definitely overdose. The body can only process so much of vitamins and minerals at once. So large doses and doses taken frequently can cause negative side effects. That happened to me once with magnesium which is also water soluble.

Unless there is a diagnosed deficiency or unless a doctor has recommended niacin, there isn't a particular reason to take this vitamin if you have a balanced diet. If your doctor recommended niacin supplements, then please ask about the right dose for you and for how long you should take them. Many people assume that vitamins are harmless and more is better but that is definitely not true.

By discographer — On Feb 13, 2015

Niacin is a water soluble vitamin as far as I know. It's not possible to overdose on water soluble vitamins correct? Doesn't the excess just get thrown out in urine? So I can take more than 500mg without problems correct?

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