Nifty Niacin - It's Not Just a Word on Your Cereal Box!

If you would have asked me a few years ago what niacin was, I would have likely said it was one of those funny sounding vitamins that I used to read on the side of the cereal box in the morning.  And it is.  But it was only recently that I realized just how important this little gem of a vitamin really is.

Niacin is one of the very important B vitamins – Vitamin B3 in fact.  One of the reasons that you have energy is because of this little gem.  When you eat, your body takes in proteins, carbohydrates and fat.  Part of Niacin’s role is to work with the other B vitamins and convert these building blocks into energy that your body can actually use.

Niacin is also very necessary for good heart health, which is why it’s so important to me now.  One of the things I learned after my recent “cardiac episode” was that my HDL (what I call my “happy” cholesterol) is quite low.  My cardiologist would like mine in the 50’s range, but mine was in the mid-30’s.  Luckily, my LDL (what I refer to as my “lousy” cholesterol) is about where it’s supposed to be.  So he decided that Niacin would be part of my solution, among other things.

One of the things I learned was that by having a higher HDL cholesterol level, my body will be able to take some of the LDL cholesterol that I don’t want to my liver for disposal.  In my mind, that’s kind of like taking out the trash.  Because even though my LDL is only slightly elevated and my triglycerides are fine, I’m still at risk for heart disease.  Not good.

I’m told that most Americans get the Niacin they need from their foods every day.  But Niacin is water soluble, which means that whatever your body doesn’t use is not stored for later, but excreted.  That’s why you need the steady stream every day.  And most multivitamins, including the one I’ve taken for years, include Niacin in small doses.

The final benefit to me has been a feeling of calm that I experience when I take my Niacin before bedtime.  And it’s a natural sleep inducer.  I have slept so much better since taking it.

Now, understand that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.  I would never recommend that anyone just run out and buy a bottle of Niacin without talking to a healthcare provider FIRST.  However, I haven’t been on any medication for years and I was very concerned about having to take drugs that I didn’t want to take.

So far, a few dietary tweaks, some different forms of exercise, and my Niacin in the evening have been welcome changes.  It will take some time before I know the actual effects on MY health, but I’m excited to have found this alternative to statin drugs.   Niacin can be found in wheat germ (which I sprinkle on all kinds of foods), peanuts, chicken, turkey and fish.

I love knowing that even with a heart issue that required medical attention, I can still maintain my green lifestyle with integrity.  Here’s to your health and happiness!

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