Extended release niacin products are currently available as both over the counter products and prescription medications. Nicotinic acid is usually the form of niacin used in products of this type, since that type of niacin is more effective in dealing with cholesterol issues than niacinamide. There are several benefits associated with extended release niacin, including the low incidence of flushing and the help with increasing good cholesterol while also lowering bad cholesterol in the bloodstream. At the same time, some users have experiences some side effects from using the extended release form of niacin pills or capsules, including poor sleep, agitation, and stomach upsets.
One of the main benefits of extended release niacin is its ability to help with cholesterol issues. With nicotinic acid forming the basis for the extended release version of vitamin B3, small amounts are released into the bloodstream over the course of several hours. The end result is that the niacin is constantly helping to lower bad cholesterol in the system, while promoting the production of good cholesterol. This has the side effect of also helping to keep blood pressure levels relatively normal, which in turn aids in preventing strokes and heart attacks.
Another benefit of extended release niacin is that the potential to experience severe flushing is kept to a minimum. Standard nicotinic acid supplements sometimes produce a period of flushing along the face, neck, shoulders and sometimes the entire body as the niacin finds its way into the bloodstream and begins to dilate blood vessels all over the body. Since the extended release niacin is released incrementally into the system rather than all at once, flushing is rare. For anyone who finds the flushing uncomfortable, taking an aspirin roughly a half hour before the niacin product will usually prevent the occurrence of any flushing at all.
Along with the pros of using extended release niacin, there are some potential drawbacks. One has to do with the interruption of the sleep cycle. While niacin generally tends to promote restful sleep in many people, the timed released version may have the opposite effect. When this happens, the user has trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep for any appreciable period of time. The lack of sleep will have a profound effect on mood, leaving the individual easily irritated and possibly increase nervousness overall.
Some users report stomach upsets after taking extended release niacin for a period of time. The discomfort may be somewhat mild, requiring use of antacids to ease the pain, or include more severe manifestations such as cramps and significant heartburn. Along with stomach issues, there is also some potential for use of the product over time to cause issues with the liver. This is especially true for individuals who also deal with health issues such as diabetes.
For people who do find it difficult to take extended release niacin, there are alternatives. Using standard nicotinic acid supplements two or even three times a day in carefully measured doses may provide much of the same level of benefit without triggering any of the adverse reactions. At other times, switching to some other product or medication to control cholesterol levels would be advisable. By working closely with a physician, it is possible to determine whether or not extended release niacin is the best option, or if some other solution would be a better choice.