What is niacin?
Niacin, also called nicotinic acid, is a B vitamin (vitamin B3). It occurs naturally in plants and animals, and is also added to many foods as a vitamin supplement. Niacin is also present in many multiple vitamins and nutritional supplements.
Niacin is used to treat and prevent a lack of natural niacin in the body, and to lower cholesterol and triglycerides (types of fat) in the blood. It is also used to lower the risk of heart attack in people with high cholesterol who have already had a heart attack. Niacin is sometimes used to treat coronary artery disease (also called atherosclerosis).
Niacin may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.
Do not take this medication if you are allergic to niacin, or if you have severe liver disease, a stomach ulcer, or active bleeding.
Before taking niacin, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:
- liver or kidney disease;
- heart disease or uncontrolled angina (chest pain);
- a stomach ulcer;
- gout; or
- a muscle disorder such as myasthenia gravis.
If you have any of these conditions, you may not be able to use niacin, or you may need dosage adjustments or special tests during treatment.
FDA pregnancy category C. Niacin may be harmful to an unborn baby when the medication is taken at doses to treat high cholesterol or other conditions. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.
Niacin can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Avoid drinking hot beverages shortly after taking niacin. Hot drinks can worsen niacin’s flushing effect (warmth, itching, redness, or tingly feeling under your skin).
Avoid drinking alcohol while taking niacin. Alcohol may increase your risk of liver damage, and can also worsen the flushing effects of niacin.
Avoid taking colestipol (Colestid) or cholestyramine (Locholest, Prevalite, Questran) at the same time you take niacin. If you take either of these other medications, take them at least 4 to 6 hours before or after you take niacin.
Avoid getting up too fast from a sitting or lying position, or you may feel dizzy. Get up slowly and steady yourself to prevent a fall.
Back to top
Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine.
Overdose symptoms may include nausea, dizziness, itching, vomiting, upset stomach, and flushing.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Be sure to take the missed dose with food if you normally take your niacin dose with a meal or snack.
If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at your next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
Back to top
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
- feeling light-headed, fainting;
- fast, pounding, or uneven heart beats;
- feeling short of breath;
- jaundice (yellowing of your skin or eyes); or
- muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness with fever or flu symptoms and dark colored urine.
If you are diabetic, tell your doctor about any changes in your blood sugar levels.
Less serious side effects of niacin include:
- mild dizziness;
- warmth, redness, or tingly feeling under your skin;
- itching, dry skin;
- sweating or chills;
- nausea, diarrhea, belching, gas;
- muscle pain, leg cramps; or
- sleep problems (insomnia).
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Back to top
Tell your doctor about all other cholesterol-lowering drugs you are taking with niacin, especially atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), or simvastatin (Zocor).
Before taking niacin, tell your doctor if you are also using any of the following drugs:
- a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin);
- multivitamins or mineral supplements that contain niacin;
- blood pressure or heart medications such as amlodipine (Norvasc), diltiazem (Tiazac, Cartia, Cardizem), felodipine (Plendil), nicardipine (Cardene), nifedipine (Procardia, Adalat), nimodipine (Nimotop), nisoldipine (Sular), or verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan); or
- heart medications such as doxazosin (Cardura), isosorbide (Dilatrate, Imdur, Isordil, Monoket, Sorbitrate), nitroglycerin (Nitro-Bid, Nitro-Dur, Nitrostat), prazosin (Minipress), or terazosin (Hytrin).
This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can interact with niacin. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.
B-3-50, B3-500-Gr, Niacin SR, Niacor, Niacor B3, Niaspan ER, Niaspan ER Starter Pack, Nico-400, Nicobid Tempules, Nicolar, Nicotinex, Slo-Niacin, niacin, nicotinic acid, vitamin B3, and Nicotinic Acid
Back to top
Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2004 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version 2.05. Revision date 8/23/04