Involvement of Niacin, an essential B vitamin, in cellular energy production means that it is essential for healthy cardiovascular function, nervous system function, and immune function. Niacin nutritionally supports cholesterol levels already within the normal range.
Niacin in doses over 50 mg can cause flushing - red and itchy face and neck - when ingested in a non-time release form. Niacin is available in time-release tablets, and these products have less flushing reaction. These products release niacin slowly throughout the intestinal tract, which still presents the liver with a large niacin load. Simple, time-released niacin products have been associated with elevated liver enzymes in some users.
Niacinamide, another form of Vitamin B3 commonly used in dietary supplements and found in foods, does not cause flushing at any dose, but also does not have the cardiovascular health effects that niacin has. Niacin is involved in numerous reactions inside of cells that convert food into cellular energy. Niacin helps operate enzymes that transport and break down fats, carbohydrates, proteins and other molecules formed from food. A normal function of niacin is to help remove fats (triglycerides) from tissues and the bloodstream.