B vitamin gets an A+

B vitamin gets an A+

Niacin could help increase production of good cholesterol

 By Matt Galnor

Dr. Michael Haas

Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels can keep heart disease, heart attack and stroke away. And a commonly used vitamin could help by increasing production of “good” cholesterol in the body, researchers at the UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville have found. The findings were published recently in the journal Metabolism, Clinical and Experimental.

Physicians have long prescribed the B-vitamin niacin to help keep good cholesterol levels high. Early studies suggested that niacin prevents the removal of good cholesterol — known as high-density lipoprotein or HDL — from the body and raises the concentration of it. But new results from studies of human cells suggest that niacin plays an even greater role, not only preventing removal, but also boosting production of good cholesterol in the liver and small intestine.

“We’ve known the value of (niacin) for years, but this shows there could be even more benefits than we thought,” said the study’s lead author, Michael Haas, Ph.D., a research associate professor of medicine.

A person’s cholesterol reading is made up of two major parts: HDL and low-density lipoprotein, also called LDL or “bad” cholesterol. HDL is responsible for moving cholesterol out of various tissues and into the liver so it can be flushed from the body. Doctors recommend keeping good cholesterol levels high and bad cholesterol levels low.

The body uses niacin to convert carbohydrates into energy. It is found in many over-the-counter multivitamin formulations and is sometimes prescribed on its own to lower triglycerides and increase good cholesterol.