Niacin & the Side Effects on Blood Pressure

The dietary supplement niacin is a type of B vitamin that may be used to lower high cholesterol levels and treat niacin deficiency. Health professionals with the University of Maryland Medical Center recommend adults consume between 14 and 18 mg of niacin on a daily basis to maintain optimal health levels. If you take this supplement, talk with your doctor about the potential side effects niacin may have on your blood pressure level.

An elderly man laying in a hospital bed having his blood pressure taken. Credit: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Decreased Blood Pressure

Niacin works by dilating the blood vessels in your body. Blood vessel dilation causes a temporary decrease in your blood pressure levels because the heart does not need to work as hard to push blood through your body. If you have been diagnosed with low blood pressure, you should avoid taking niacin, MedlinePlus warns. Improper use of niacin by people with low blood pressure may result in a severe drop in blood pressure and may lead to loss of consciousness.

Medication Interactions

This supplement should not be used in conjunction with alternate blood pressure medications, such as felodipine, diltiazem or amlodipine, Drugs.com advises. Concomitant use of niacin with blood pressure drugs may increase the effects of these medications. Consequently, you may develop unusually low blood pressure and may experience severe dizziness, headache pain or fainting. You should also avoid taking this vitamin B-3 supplement if you are also taking blood thinners, heart medications or other supplements that contain niacin.

Additional Side Effects

While receiving treatment with niacin, you may experience side effects. Niacin flush is the most common side effect of treatment and may cause facial flushing or unusual skin sensations, such as itching, burning or tingling, the UMMC reports. Additional side effects may include nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, dry skin, sweating, dizziness or chills. Seek prompt care from your medical provider if you experience any heart or respiratory problems such as an irregular heart rate or shortness of breath.

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