How to Balance Cholesterol Levels without Resorting to Statins
Recent research into the causes of heart disease has revolutionized our understanding of cholesterol and the role it plays in human health.
For example, we now know that high triglycerides and oxidized LDL are much bigger risk factors for heart disease than total cholesterol.
That said, many folks—and many doctors—remain concerned when cholesterol goes too high. They’d like to see cholesterol come down, yet more and more of them are reluctant to reach for a statin drug, and with good reason. These medications have many side effects, and the research reporting their efficacy is limited and poor.
What to do, what to do?
Ask a dozen nutritionists or integrative medical doctors about natural supplements for improving blood lipids, including cholesterol, and chances are ten of them will point to niacin.
And for good reason: niacin has an impressive track record.
What is Niacin, Anyway?
Niacin—also known as vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid—plays a role in numerous metabolic pathways, but it really garnered a lot of attention in the 1950s when researchers discovered its lipid-improving abilities. Niacin can:
- Lower low density lipoproteins (LDL)
- Lower triglycerides
- Improve high density lipoproteins (HDL)
- Increase the ratio of large/small particle LDL
That last one is especially important. We now know that LDL isn’t a single molecule. It actually comes in several “flavors” or subtypes. LDL-A is a large fluffy molecule that is virtually harmless (unless it becomes damaged by oxidation). LDL-B, on the other hand, is a nasty little bugger—a hard, small, dense molecule that can definitely contribute to atherosclerosis.
In other words, your LDL number itself isn’t so important. It’s what subtype you have that can make the difference. Pattern A—where most of your LDL is of the fluffy type—is good. Pattern B—where most of your LDL is the hard, dense type—is not.
Niacin has been shown to shift the ratio, so you have more LDL-A and less LDL-B. And that’s way more important than just reducing overall LDL.
What Type of Niacin to Take?
But what kind of niacin should you take?
Glad you asked.
There are a number of different types of niacin available, and they are not all created equal. One type of niacin called niacinamide is widely used in multivitamins and B-complex formulas. It has plenty of benefits, but has exactly zero effect on cholesterol.
The most common form of niacin—nicotinic acid—kicks in immediately and is quite effective, but watch out. It creates that miserable flushing that conventional niacin is known for. It’s horrible, and over 40% of the population (including yours truly) can’t tolerate it.
Then there’s “no-flush” niacin, otherwise known as inositol hexanicotinate. There’s only one problem with it: it doesn’t work. Sorry!
Luckily, an interesting form of niacin called wax-matrix—extended-release nicotinic acid—solves the problem.
As niacin bound in a wax matrix travels through your GI system, it softens, allowing superior absorption with no stomach upset, and providing niacin in a uniform consistent dose. The steady, sustained dosing greatly reduces flushing and stomach irritation found in common niacin products, and you get niacin in a nice, uniform, consistent dose.
A new study in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology1 compared “no-flush niacin” with a wax-matrix, extended-release nicotinic acid and a placebo.
The no-flush niacin performed no differently than the placebo. The wax-matrix niacin, on the other hand, yielded impressive results: it improved LDL as well as other lipid parameters such as triglycerides and HDL.
So if you are looking for a natural way to lower your really bad cholesterol (LDL-B) and improve your overall lipid profile, you may want to give niacin a shot. Here is what we recommend.
This wax-matrix, extended-release nicotinic acid offers the precise type and dose of niacin that has been shown to have the most beneficial effect on LDL-B and overall lipid profiles. Because it’s time released, you will get a nice even dose, and you shouldn’t experience the dreaded “niacin flush.” As always, Designs for Health supplements are free of allergens and toxins making this a great product to invest in.
Note: If you’re not taking any other B-vitamins—and don’t have elevated homocysteine—we strongly suggest B-Supreme by Designs for Health. And if you have elevated homocysteine, be sure to consider Homocysteine Supreme (featured in the banner above this article), a combination of three B-vitamins known to lower this inflammatory compound.
The good news is that we now know total cholesterol isn’t the demon it was once believed to be. What’s even better, is that niacin—a well-known natural therapy—can help you balance you lipid profile without unnecessary, distressing side effects.
Wishing You Health and Wellness,
The Rockwell Nutrition Team
1Keenan JM. Wax-matrix extended-release niacin vs inositol hexanicotinate: A comparison of wax-matrix, extended-release niacin to inositol hexanicotinate “no-flush” niacin in persons with mild to moderate dyslipidemia. J Clin Lipidol. 2013 Jan;7(1):14-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jacl.2012.10.004. Epub 2012 Oct 30. http://www.lipidjournal.com/article/S1933-2874(12)00377-7/abstract