08 July, 2011
Niacin and Raynaud's Disease
Cold temperatures, contact with a cold object, emotional stress, caffeine or other substances that restrict blood flow might trigger symptoms of Raynaud’s disease. This disorder causes abnormal spasms in the vessels that supply blood to your skin. Your hands and feet might become discolored and numb when you lose circulation to your extremities. Taking supplemental niacin, a B vitamin that increases blood circulation, might help you maintain healthy blood flow if you have Raynaud’s, Mayo Clinic notes. Niacin, or vitamin B-3, is an alternative therapy for Raynaud’s and should not be taken in supplemental form without medical supervision. Clinical research has not confirmed that niacin is an effective treatment for Raynaud’s disease.
When you’re exposed to cold temperatures, your body restricts blood flow to your extremities to maintain a stable core temperature and maintain circulation to your vital organs. If you have Raynaud’s disease, this natural response might be exaggerated. A brief exposure to cold, contact with a freezer or other cold object may prompt the small arteries that carry blood to your skin to contract. Your hands, toes, nose and earlobes may turn white, blue or red due to fluctuations in blood flow. You might have pain and tingling in these areas when blood circulation returns. The symptoms of Raynaud’s can vary in severity, from representing a minor inconvenience to a significant risk to your health. A chronic lack of circulation to your hands or feet may cause infections or tissue damage in your toes and fingertips, Mayo Clinic notes.
Niacin promotes healthy blood circulation by causing blood vessels to expand, or dilate. Taking niacin as a supplement might improve blood flow to your skin. Niacin occurs naturally in beef, pork, poultry, salmon, tuna and fortified grain products. In pharmacological form, niacin is prescribed to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. As a treatment for Raynaud’s disease, niacin is considered a complementary therapy. Calcium channel blockers, alpha blockers and other medications that dilate blood vessels are the first line of treatment for Raynaud’s, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Inositol hexaniacinate, a form of niacin, might help you maintain healthy circulation and experience fewer episodes of Raynaud’s disease, the University of Maryland Medical Center notes. According to DermNet NZ, niacin might be a suitable alternative for people who can’t tolerate conventional drug therapies because of chronic low blood pressure. Niacin might have serious interactions with cardiac medications that are used to treat Raynaud’s disease, Drugs.com cautions. Follow your health care provider’s recommendations carefully when taking any supplemental form of niacin.
Niacin as a naturally occurring nutrient in foods is generally safe. However, in supplement form, niacin might have serious side effects if you take more than the dose that your health care provider recommends. A sudden drop in blood pressure, dizziness, hot flushes to your face or neck, nausea and vomiting might result from taking too much niacin. Raynaud’s disease might be an early sign of a more serious underlying circulatory condition. Consult your health care provider if you experience symptoms of Raynaud’s or if you are interested in trying niacin as a complementary therapy.
- Jaim924/iStock/Getty Images