Experts Warn of New Health Risk

( – Researchers working with niacin, otherwise known as Vitamin B3, are issuing warnings that too much of the essential nutrient can trigger inflammation in the cardiovascular system, including the heart. The report was published on Monday, February 19 in Nature Medicine.

Niacin is regularly added to flour, cereals, and other bread-products. It’s also found in meat, nuts, and fish, suggesting regular carnivores are getting plenty. The vitamin was added into most commercial bread products in the 1940s to combat an illness called pellagra that resulted from severe deficiency.

The daily amount recommended by the FDA is just 16 milligrams per day for men and it’s lower for women (unless they’re pregnant).

Study author Dr. Stanley Hazen suggested that as much as 25% of the American populace has higher-than-recommended levels of the vitamin in their system. Hazen is also the chair of cardiovascular research at Cleveland’s Lerner Research Institute. The report added that it’s unclear what the maximum amount is per day and suggested further research to resolve the question.

Hazen added that niacin supplements are unnecessary given this new information. Niacin supplements are still prescribed to treat high cholesterol, another indication of heart disease.

Hazen and his team did multiple experiments to draw their conclusions. They compared blood samples from fasted donors from people who were seeking treatment for cardiovascular problems. A common denominator in their samples was a breakdown product of niacin.

That led to another study with over 3,000 adult participants. They concluded that the breakdown product was able to predict risk of negative outcomes like stroke, heart attack, and death.

Researchers also injected mice with the breakdown product and were able to detect noticeable increases in inflammatory markers in their blood.

Dr. Robert Rosenson of the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City called the results “important” and fascinating. He also suggested that the discovery could contribute to new drugs for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. He also hoped the research would encourage food industry executives to reduce or remove the vitamin from their products.

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