Considerations for people taking niacin include the following:
- The medication comes in capsule and tablet form. It is taken by mouth several times a day (for immediate-release products), once or twice daily (for slow-release), or once daily at bedtime (for Niaspan, the prescription-only, extended-release form).
- To help avoid stomach irritation and upset, it is best to take niacin with a meal or a snack.
- Your healthcare provider may recommend taking aspirin or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) 30 minutes before each niacin dose to help minimize the niacin flush.
- It is a good idea to avoid spicy food, alcohol, or hot beverages after taking a dose of niacin, as these foods and drinks may increase the risk of flushing.
- Do not start out with the full-strength recommended dose of niacin, as you will likely experience intolerable side effects. Instead, you should start with a low dose and increase your dosage gradually as your healthcare provider recommends. If you miss a few doses, you should start over with a low dose, in order to minimize side effects.
- For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. Even with non-prescription products, you should take high doses of niacin (such as the doses required to improve cholesterol) only with your healthcare provider's approval and supervision, as the drug is a powerful and potentially dangerous medication.
- If you are unsure about anything related to your niacin dosage, please talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.