niacinamide (generic name)
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Interactions with Drugs
In theory, there may be an increased risk of liver damage if niacin is taken with alcohol or drugs that are toxic to the liver. Niacin-induced flushing may be increased by simultaneous use of alcohol and nicotine.
Based on human study, use of niacin with cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as "statins" (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) including lovastatin (Mevacor®) or atorvastatin (Lipitor®), bile acid sequestrants like cholestyramine, probucol, or anti-lipid agents like gemfibrozil may result in further reductions in cholesterol than caused by either agent alone. However, bile acid sequestrants cholestyramine and colestipol may reduce niacin absorption into the body. Use of niacin with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors or gemfibrozil may increase the risk of serious side effects such as liver or muscle damage.
Based on human study, niacin may increase blood sugar levels, and may require dosing adjustments of insulin or prescription diabetes drugs. Caution is advised when using medications that may affect blood sugar.
Antibiotics can lead to decreased amounts of B vitamins in the body. Conversely, based on animal study, pyrazinamide may increase niacin levels. Use of niacin with neomycin may add to the cholesterol-lowering effects of niacin. Based on laboratory study, niacinamide may interact with the antifungal drug griseofulvin (increases its solubility), with possible effects on its activity.
In theory, niacin therapy may increase the risk of bleeding. There are published case reports of patients who developed reversible abnormal blood clotting (coagulopathy) conditions while taking sustained-release niacin. In addition, low blood platelet number (thrombocytopenia) has been observed in studies of niacin therapy. Some examples of drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding if taken with niacin include aspirin and anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®).
Based on animal research, use of niacinamide with seizure medications like diazepam (Valium®), carbamazepine (Tegretol®), or sodium valproate (Depakote®) may increase their anti-seizure action. In laboratory studies, niacinamide has interacted with diazepam (increases its solubility) with uncertain overall effects. If taken with blood pressure-lowering drugs, niacinamide may cause a greater lowering of blood pressure.
Based on human study, niacin may alter thyroid hormones and require dosing adjustment of thyroid medications. Based on laboratory research, niacinamide may interact with testosterone, estrogen, or progesterone. Use of birth control pills may increase the amount of niacin produced in the body, thus lowering the doses of niacin needed for treatment.
Because niacin may alter blood flow in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), patients using drugs or supplements to treat AMD should use niacin cautiously.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
In theory, use of niacin or niacinamide with herbs or supplements that have potential to cause liver injury may cause greater risk of liver toxicity.
Use of aspirin has been shown to reduce the tingling, itching, flushing, and warmth associated with oral niacin administration, an effect which may also result from the use of possible salicylate-containing herbs like black cohosh, meadowsweet, poplar, sweet birch, willow bark, and wintergreen. However, levels of salicylates in herbs may vary or be too low to have this desired effect.
Niacin may add to the effects of herbs that may lower blood cholesterol levels, including fish oil, garlic, or guggul. Based on human study, taking such combinations as chromium polynicotinate (niacin-bound chromium) with grape seed proanthocyanidin, or niacin with β-sitosterol and dihydro-β-sitosterol, may result in greater improvements in cholesterol than either agent alone.
Antioxidants may reduce niacin's beneficial effects on cholesterol levels and heart disease, possibly by interfering with niacin's effects on high-density cholesterol (HDL). Recent research suggests that the addition of antioxidants to a combination of niacin plus simvastatin (Zocor®) reduced the benefit of niacin on heart blood vessel plaques, suggesting possible interference by antioxidants. In other research, use of niacin with vitamin A and vitamin E had greater effects on cholesterol levels than niacin alone. Vitamin E in combination with colestipol and niacin has also been associated with greater benefits on heart blood vessel plaques. This remains an area of controversy.
Based on human study, niacin may increase blood sugar levels and may require dosing adjustments of hypoglycemic agents. In children, use of niacinamide and insulin together has been shown to lead to a reduction in insulin dosage in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may affect blood sugar.
In theory, niacin therapy may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. There are published case reports of patients who developed reversible abnormal blood clotting (coagulopathy) conditions while taking sustained-release niacin. In addition, low blood platelet number (thrombocytopenia) has been observed in studies of niacin therapy. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic or saw palmetto.
Based on laboratory study, niacinamide may interact with herbs or supplements with estrogen-like properties, and theoretically may increase the amount of niacin produced in the body (thus lowering the doses of niacin needed for treatment).
Based on human study, niacin may interact with thyroid-active herbs or supplements such as bladderwrack, and alter thyroid hormone blood tests. Preliminary human research reports that zinc sulfate increases the amount of niacin breakdown products in the urine, suggesting a possible interaction between the two agents.
Because niacin may alter blood flow in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), patients using herbs or supplements to treat AMD should use niacin cautiously.