Skip to Content
UW Health SMPH
American Family Children's Hospital
DONATE Donate
SHARE TEXT

niacin (nicotinic acid)

Pronunciation: NYE a sin (NIK oh TIN ik AS id)

Brand: B-3-50, B3-500-Gr, Niacin SR, Niacor, Niaspan ER, Slo-Niacin

Niacin SR 125 mg-URL

brown/clear

Image of Niacin SR 125 mg-URL
slide 1 of 4
    

Niaspan 500 mg

oblong, white, imprinted with KOS, 500

Image of Niaspan 500 mg
slide 2 of 4
    

Niaspan ER 1000 mg

oblong, white, imprinted with 1000, KOS

Image of Niaspan ER 1000 mg
slide 3 of 4
    

Niaspan ER 750 mg

oblong, white, imprinted with 750, KOS

Image of Niaspan ER 750 mg
slide 4 of 4
    

What is the most important information I should know about niacin?

Multum donot

You should not take this medication if you are allergic to niacin, or if you have severe liver disease, a stomach ulcer, or active bleeding.

Niacin can cause certain side effects, such as flushing (warmth, itching, redness, or tingly feeling under your skin). These effects can be made worse if you drink alcohol or hot beverages shortly after you take niacin. These effects should disappear over time as you keep taking the medication.

Multum dizzy

Avoid getting up too fast from a sitting or lying position, or you may feel dizzy. Get up slowly and steady yourself to prevent a fall.

Avoid taking colestipol (Colestid) or cholestyramine (Locholest, Prevalite, Questran) at the same time you take niacin. If you take either of these other medications, take them at least 4 to 6 hours before or after you take niacin.

Niacin is only part of a complete program of treatment that may also include diet, exercise, weight control, and other medications. Follow your diet, medication, and exercise routines very closely.

What is niacin?

Niacin, also called nicotinic acid, is a B vitamin (vitamin B3). It occurs naturally in plants and animals, and is also added to many foods as a vitamin supplement. Niacin is also present in many multiple vitamins and nutritional supplements.

Niacin is used to treat and prevent a lack of natural niacin in the body, and to lower cholesterol and triglycerides (types of fat) in the blood. It is also used to lower the risk of heart attack in people with high cholesterol who have already had a heart attack. Niacin is sometimes used to treat coronary artery disease (also called atherosclerosis).

Niacin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking niacin ?

Multum donot

You should not take this medication if you are allergic to niacin, or if you have severe liver disease, a stomach ulcer, or active bleeding.

To make sure you can safely take niacin, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • liver or kidney disease;
  • heart disease or uncontrolled angina (chest pain);
  • a stomach ulcer;
  • diabetes;
  • gout; or
  • a muscle disorder such as myasthenia gravis.
Multum nopreg

FDA pregnancy category C. Niacin may be harmful to an unborn baby when the medication is taken at doses to treat high cholesterol or other conditions. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

Multum nobrfeed

Niacin can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take niacin ?

Use exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Niacin is sometimes taken at bedtime with a low-fat snack. Follow your doctor's instructions.

Niacin can cause certain side effects, such as flushing (warmth, itching, redness, or tingly feeling under your skin). These effects can be made worse if you drink alcohol or hot beverages shortly after you take niacin. These effects should disappear over time as you keep taking the medication.

Multum water

Take niacin with a full glass of cold or cool water. Taking the medication with a hot drink may increase your risk of side effects such as flushing.

Multum nocrush

Do not crush, chew, break, or open an extended-release tablet or capsule. Swallow it whole. Breaking or opening the pill may cause too much of the drug to be released at one time.

Multum donot

Niacin extended-release tablets and capsules contain higher strengths of the medicine than the regular niacin tablets. Take only the dose that is correct for the type of niacin tablet or capsule you are using.

Niacin can cause you to have unusual results with certain medical tests (urine tests). Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using niacin.

If you stop taking niacin for any length of time, talk with your doctor before starting the medication again. You may need to restart the medication at a lower dose.

Multum emt

While using niacin, you may need blood tests at your doctor's office. Your kidney or liver function may also need to be checked. Visit your doctor regularly.

Niacin is only part of a complete program of treatment that may also include diet, exercise, weight control, and other medications. Follow your diet, medication, and exercise routines very closely.

Multum rt

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Be sure to take the missed dose with food if you normally take your niacin dose with a meal or snack.

Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Multum emt

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include nausea, dizziness, itching, vomiting, upset stomach, and flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling).

What should I avoid while taking niacin ?

Avoid drinking hot beverages shortly after taking niacin. Hot drinks can worsen niacin's flushing effect (warmth, itching, redness, or tingly feeling under your skin).

Multum noalcohol

Avoid drinking alcohol while taking niacin. Alcohol may increase your risk of liver damage, and can also worsen the flushing effects of niacin.

Avoid taking colestipol (Colestid) or cholestyramine (Locholest, Prevalite, Questran) at the same time you take niacin. If you take either of these other medications, take them at least 4 to 6 hours before or after you take niacin.

Multum dizzy

Avoid getting up too fast from a sitting or lying position, or you may feel dizzy. Get up slowly and steady yourself to prevent a fall.

What are the possible side effects of niacin ?

Multum emt

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Multum donot

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • feeling like you might pass out;
  • fast, pounding, or uneven heart beats;
  • feeling short of breath;
  • swelling;
  • jaundice (yellowing of your skin or eyes); or
  • muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness with fever or flu symptoms and dark colored urine.
Multum emt

If you are diabetic, tell your doctor about any changes in your blood sugar levels.

Less serious side effects of niacin include:

  • mild dizziness;
  • warmth, redness, or tingly feeling under your skin;
  • itching, dry skin;
  • sweating or chills;
  • nausea, diarrhea, belching, gas;
  • muscle pain, leg cramps; or
  • sleep problems (insomnia).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect niacin?

Tell your doctor about all other cholesterol-lowering drugs you are taking with niacin, especially atorvastatin (Lipitor, Caduet), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor, Altoprev, Advicor), pravastatin (Pravachol), or simvastatin (Zocor, Simcor, Vytorin, Juvisync).

Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to use niacin if you are also using any of the following drugs:

  • a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven);
  • multivitamins or mineral supplements that contain niacin;
  • blood pressure or heart medications such as amlodipine (Norvasc, Caduet, Exforge, Lotrel, Tekamlo, Tribenzor, Twynsta, Amturnide), diltiazem (Cardizem, Cartia, Dilacor, Diltia, Diltzac, Taztia, Tiazac), felodipine (Plendil), nicardipine (Cardene), nifedipine (Procardia, Adalat), nimodipine (Nimotop), nisoldipine (Sular), or verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan); or
  • heart medications such as doxazosin (Cardura), isosorbide (Dilatrate, Imdur, Isordil, Monoket, Sorbitrate), nitroglycerin (Nitro-Bid, Nitro-Dur, Nitrostat), prazosin (Minipress), or terazosin (Hytrin).

This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with niacin. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

Your pharmacist can provide more information about niacin.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2013 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 8.04. Revision date: 5/15/2012.

Your use of the content provided in this service indicates that you have read, understood and agree to the End-User License Agreement, which can be accessed by clicking on this link.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.