Despite many attempts to get my HDL cholesterol levels up over the past several years (although my LDL levels are steadily trending down) my doctor decided to try something different: niacin. Niacin, vitamin B3, is reported to raise HDL levels — about 3 points for every gram consumed daily. One of the temporary side effects of niacin is flushing. I started taking 2 grams/day of inositol hexanicotinate, a form of niacin sold as a no-flush version. Sure enough, no flushing – or at least I assumed no flushing as I didn’t notice any change after taking them. After I ran out of that bottle I went by GNC to buy a larger bottle (if I’m taking 2-3g a day and the capsules are at most 500mg, I need a bottle that is going to last me for more than a week). They didn’t have the inositol hexanicotinate version so I got the pure niacin version. Thinking my body was already adjusted to the dosage I took my usual 1g in the morning yesterday. 15 minutes later and I was having a major hot flash, red in the face and torso, and my hands started itching. Talk about uncomfortable, scary as hell, and yet oddly fascinating all at the same time! I’m imagining that taking a dose of niacin is the closest any man will get to understanding what women go through in menopause.
I cranked back down to 1g/day (500mg twice a day) today in hopes I can becomes less sensitive to it over the next couple of weeks.