Is Niacin (to Raise HDL) a Vitamin or a Drug?

Topics: Vitamins and Supplements, Wellness and Health

Niacin is vitamin B3. In immediate-release forms, whether supplement or prescription, it can help raise HDL (healthy) cholesterol by up to 35 percent, more than any other treatment.

Long-acting niacin prescriptions (for example, Slo-Niacin) can cause liver damage, and should be taken only with close medical supervision.

But immediate-acting niacin prescriptions (for example, Niacor) can be safe and effective…but are not covered by Medicare Part D because niacin is a vitamin, not a drug.

Niacin dosing should be deliberate and cautious. Short-acting niacin can make your face flush, because of histamine release. Supplements can too. Aspirin and other measures can help: consult your doctor.

Learn more about niacin in food and controlling cholesterol with diet.