Allendale, NJ—The tell-tale red flush that accompanies the consumption of niacin supplements has made many shoppers opt for the flush-free variety. According to new data, consumers may want to think twice about this choice.

A researcher from the University of Minnesota conducted a six-week, placebo-controlled trial comparing 1,500 mg/d of wax-matrix, extended-release niacin (WMER) with 1,500 mg/d inositol hexanicotinate (IHN, no-flush niacin), both of which are commonly used to support cholesterol and cardiovascular health. Forty-one participants took WMER (as Niamax from Lonza, based here), 40 took IHN (commercial brand) and 40 took a placebo, and each group’s triglycerides and LDL/HDL cholesterol levels were assessed at baseline, three and six weeks. No one took any supplements of medications that could possibly affect these levels, and everyone was asked to follow a low saturated fat and trans-fatty acid diet.

Overall, the WMER group had significant lipid benefits in total (–11%), LDL (–18%), HDL (+12%), non-HDL (–15%) cholesterol levels. According to the researcher, “Although IHN was well tolerated, there were no significant lipid benefits and the lipid results were essentially the same as placebo.”

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, April 2013 (online 3/1/13)