United States: According to new research, a high level of an important vitamin, niacin, can raise the risk of heart disease by stimulating inflammation and, hence, damaging blood vessels.

On Monday, the report was published in Nature Medicine. It discovered a yet unknown risk from excess amounts of the vitamin in various foods such as meat, nuts, fish, fortified cereals, and breads.

Recommendation of Niacin – Experts

The daily allowance of Niacin doses for men and women- recommended are 16 milligrams per day for men and 14 milligrams per day for women who are not pregnant.

According to the study, One in four Americans possesses more levels of niacin than what is recommended, as said by Dr. Stanley Hazen, the study’s senior author, and chair of cardiovascular and metabolic sciences at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute and co-section head of preventive cardiology at the Heart, Vascular, and Thoracic Institute, as NBC News reported.

Current knowledge doesn’t draw healthy and unhealthy boundaries

As per the current base of research, the scientists are not clear about the line to be drawn between unhealthy and healthy levels of niacin, which could be further determined by the research in the future.

Hazen said, “The average person should avoid niacin supplements now that we have reason to believe that taking too much niacin can potentially lead to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease,” as NBC News reported.

According to Hazen, presently, a lot of niacin in the American diet is contained in flour, grains, and cereals fortified since the 1940s after the discovery by scientists that very low levels of the nutrients could cause a potentially dangerous condition called – Pellagra.

Before that, the making of cholesterol-lowering strains – niacin supplements prescribed once prescribed to raise cholesterol levels.

About the study

The previously unknown factors for diseases related to cardiovascular were studied by Hazen and his colleagues, who manufactured a multi-part study and included an analysis of fasting blood samples from 1,162 patients who visited a cardiology center for evaluation of heart disease.

The focus area of the research was common markers that the patients‘ blood indicated as new risk factors.

It also led to the discovery of a substance in a few samples of the blood, which was only made during the presence of excess niacin.

Furthermore, two more “validation” studies included data from 3,163 adults who had either heart disease or were doubtful of having one.

As NBC News reported, the two investigations, which happened in Europe and the US, revealed niacin breakdown product – 4PY, as predicted by the future risk of the participants of heart attack, stroke, and even death.

The last and final part of the study included trials and experimentation on mice.

It included injecting 4PY into rodents, which would lead to an increase in the inflammation in the blood vessels inside them.

About the results of the study

Dr. Robert Rosenson, director of metabolism and lipids for the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, said the results are “fascinating” and “important,” as NBC News reported.

Rosenson added that the detection of new pathways to diseases related to the heart could lead to the finding of a medication that would lower the blood vessel’s inflammation and the likeliness of reduction of main events related to cardiovascular events.

The food-related industry would collect such information and would “stop using so much niacin in products like bread. This is a case where too much of a good thing can be a bad thing,” hoped Rosenson.

Dr. Amanda Doran, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of cardiovascular medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said scientists were aware for decades of the cholesterol level of a person, which would be the main stimulating factor of heart diseases. Moreover, Rosenson added that the influence of the newly gathered information would affect the dietary recommendations for niacin.

Representation for Niacin | Credits: Google Images

According to Doran, patients with excess cholesterol levels were brought down; however, among a few others, the risk factors due to heart attacks and stroke remained high. It added further about the 2017 trial, which revealed the rise might be related to the inflammation of blood vessels.

It was surprising for Doran that gathering information about the niacin had to be involved in raising the heart disease risks.

Additionally, she added, “I don’t think anyone would have predicted that niacin would have been pro-inflammatory,” and “This is a powerful study because it combines a variety of techniques: clinical data, genetic data, and mouse data,” as NBC News reported.

Adding further, she said that discovering new pathways might open new ways to lower inflammation of blood vessels. “It’s very exciting and promising,” she said.


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