B3 - niacin - deep sixing the blues

One of my super-heroes is Dr. Abram Hoffer.
He was an honest pioneer in the mental health field and gave us ortho-molecular Medicine.

Abraham Hoffer

He used a few supplements uniquely and very SUCCESSFULLY to treat depression, bi-polar disorder, shizophrenia and other mental health challenges. The main vitamin that he recognized and gave a whole new meaning to the use of vitamin B3 / niacin. After his overwhelming successes there should have been monuments to the man and Nobel prizes by the dozens... but instead the rise of psycho-drugs, pharma $$s, government covert programs, etc, got in the way of rational thinking, healthy outcomes and proper research. B3 is verrrry cheap, cannot be patented now, so there's no money to be made here and even the FDA and Health Canada got everyone to move along - - nothing to be had here! The official daily minimum requirement, RDA, is a joke at 18 mg. People will not feel or experience any health benefits of Niacin at 18 mg. For some challenges such as insomnia, some individuals may need 20 times that level, while for depression they may require 200 times as much.

Niacin, according to Dr. Hoffer's very proper research and findings by others in the orthomolecular health field, have shown that B3 assists a diverse range of health issues including depression, over-the-top fatigue, insomnia, high cholesterol, some obesity, some kidney inflammation, Raynaud's disease and much more. 

So some of us knew of Dr Hoffer's work. But the vast majority of the population gets to continue to suffer needlessly or become medicated to the gills with debilitating drugs and with all of their very nasty side-effects! Dr Abram Hoffer proved beyond a shadow of a doubt on thousands of patients that very high daily oral doses (not intravenous - again - no money to be made, even by naturopaths) of the humble, inexpensive B3 vitamin could prove miraculous.

Dr Hoffer explains: "Niacin is one of the best substances for reducing elevated high density lipoprotein cholesterol. It’s ability to greatly reduce anxiety and depression is another bonus."

HOW TO DETERMINE how much NIACIN to take - see for yourself
So, Niacin, one of the water soluble B vitamins, has the ability to help you naturally relax and get to sleep more rapidly. It also has the ability to help reduce harmful cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.

Niacin dilates blood vessels and creates an overall sensation of warmth, and called the "niacin flush" when this is extreme. This is often accompanied with a redish colouring of the skin - anywhere from subtle to strong - from uncomfortable to feeling as if you are on fire. It is this temporary 'flushing' sensation, this heat feeling, that indicates a saturation of niacin and that you've taken too much (no harm done).
So you can literally see and feel that you've taken enough or too much niacin. The goal is to take just enough niacin to stay under the ‘flush’ threshold. This means a warmth and maybe even some pinkness about the cheeks, ears, neck, forearms. This can last a few minutes.  If your flush leaves you beet red, with your legs and stomach also feeling as if extremely sun-burned and all of this lasts for half an hour and on top of that you feel weird, well, you then took too much!

And a very large dose of niacin on an empty stomach is certain to cause profound flushing. (Niacin is best taken immediately after finishing a meal.) Niacin flushing will occur within about 20 minutes if it is going to occur at all. If niacin is taken right after a meal, a flush may be delayed or not happen at all.

"The best way to accurately control the flushing sensation is to start with very small amounts of niacin and gradually work upward in amounts until the first flush is experienced" explains Dr. Hoffer. 

So start with only 50 milligrams (50 mg) three times a day, at the end of each meal. After several days, try 100 mg after the first meal and continue with 50 mg at lunch and 50 mg at supper, etc. The following days, one might try 100 mg at breakfast, lunch and eventually dinner and see what happens. Be very gradual and keep track.

Presently naicin B3 is sold in pills of 100mg and 500 mg dosage. Start with the 100 mg and get a pill cutter to create the 50mg dosage. If you get the be flush-free even at 200 mg at the end of each meal, then purchase the 500mg variety and cut in half to get the 250mg per meal-ending dosage.

When the dosage is increased at a gentle rate of only 50 mg per every few days per meal, until the flushing sensation occurs, there are no surprises. The usual dose range for very deficient people is 3,000 to 9,000 milligrams (3gm - 9gm) daily - divided into three or four doses. “We do not know the toxic upper limits for humans since niacin has never killed anyone", says Dr. Hoffer.

NiacinAMIDE is a form of vitamin B-3 that is frequently formulated in multi-vitamins and B-complex type supplements. Niacinamide does not cause flushing and is less effective in inducing relaxation, reducing anxiety and supporting mental health. Niacinamide also does not lower blood cholesterol. This is important to know. 
Time release niacin is completely contra-indicated according to Dr. Hoffer’s work - as well as avoiding a possible flush, all good attributes are also avoided.

Our saturation levels for niacin - B3 are unique and personal and very varied. As a general rule, the more B3 you can take without flushing, the more you were needing it. If you flush with a low dose, you don't need much niacin. If flushing doesn't happen until a high level, then your body is obviously using the higher amount of the vitamin it is taking in - very beneficial. Dr. Hoffer wrote that it’s prudent to remain just below the upper limit of flushing. Since a flush indicates our body's saturation of niacin, it is best to continue to repeat the amounts that caused flushing minus a bit - just very slightly less - and stary with it. 

And a few more words on flushing by Dr. Hoffer: “Generally people who need it the most flush the least - arthritics, schizophrenics, people with multiple inflammatory conditions, bowel inflammation and elderly people with cardiovascular problems. Some schizophrenics do not flush until they actually become well again."

The presence of a flush or its intensity has many variables such as the amount of food in the stomach, whether the drink taken with it is hot or cold, other medications taken at the same time. Anti-psychotic meds and anti-depressants can reduce the intensity of the flush as well as some pain killers and anti-histamines.

The inevitable physician skepticism and questions about niacin's proven safety and effectiveness are answered in the book “Orthomolecular Psychiatry”, edited by David Hawkins, M.D. and Linus Pauling, Ph.D. This nearly 700 page textbook is the standard reference for details on niacin therapy and mental wellness. Persons with heavy alcohol use, liver disorders, diabetes, or who are pregnant should check with their physicians, of course, who should check in the above mentioned text book before answering.

Abram Hoffer and Linus Pauling at the symposium, "Adjuvant Nutrition in Cancer Treatment," Tulsa, Oklahoma, November 1992.

Eating a well-rounded and varied diet means that a very small amount of niacin will be available for our bodies... but the person in need of a large amount will not get enough merely from food. And, slowly a varied diet is becoming extinct, as more and more people now make smoothies as a meal replacement approach to eating. These usually contain popular, hyped, dried, processed green ingredients, along with maybe a banana and fruits and an avocado and a tad of hemp powder. So this sort of eating may have advantages but not in terms of providing a niacin rich infusion.

For gentle regular maintenance purposes, without therapeutic needs, here are the top niacin rich foods: poultry, mushrooms, organic liver, ripe green peas, grass-fed beef and lamb, tuna, salmon, shrimp and sardines and brown rice. It is a good idea to take the other B-complex vitamins, too - they all dance together. You may want to take them in a separate supplement in addition to what you may be doing with high-dose niacin ...

Makes sense?

Most ortho-molecular information in one spot: http://orthomolecular.org

and a bit more REALLY good information:

and the relationship of Dr Abram's work to alcoholic issues, (AND arthritis, cholesterol and coronary issues)  Phenominal!

Then go on to tweak your other pro-mental-health nutrients / food choices some more at http://www.pacificholistic.com/depression


Best qi,
Merrie Bakker B.Sc, M.Arch, CN


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Merrie Bakker - Live Blood Analyst / microscopist - Health Educator - Author - Teacher - Speaker - Editor - Hands-on-Healer - Reflexologist - Dowser - Reiki Master - Nutritional Coach - a life-long student of holistic medicine and preventative health who believes with a passion that cellular disorganization can be prevented or reversed by ortho-molecular medicine, emotional healing work, environmental detoxification (many areas of concern) and nutritional and lifestyle re-balancing (many possibilities). Combined with vigilance, monitoring and team work, clients are encouraged to detox, rebuild, re-nourish, resolve and re-educate.

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