(NaturalNews) Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a silent but dangerous condition. It is generally defined as a blood pressure over 120/80. Niacin is also known as vitamin B3, and is gaining recognition for its positive effect on blood pressure.
The symptoms of hypertension are usually non-existent, and when they do occur they are so vague that they can often be attributed to other things. Headache, nausea, blurred vision, and dizziness are the most common initial symptoms. If hypertension is not detected symptoms resulting from subsequent organ damage can occur. Heart failure, heart attack, stroke, aneurysms, and kidney failure may occur.
Because of its serious consequences it is very important to treat hypertension. Antihypertensives are effective but can have serious side effects themselves. Diuretics are commonly prescribed but if those are not effective then ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, or angiotensin II receptor blockers may be added. Side effects of these drugs include potassium loss, insomnia, dizziness, palpitations, kidney damage, impotence, loss of taste, and many more. Therefore, when someone is experiencing hypertension that is not imminently dangerous it may be wise to try other routes before resorting to medication.
Losing weight, exercising, quitting smoking, and improving diet are all ways to decrease blood pressure. In addition to these measures niacin (Vitamin B3) may be added as a supplement.
Niacin is a vasodilator, which means that it widens blood vessels. This dilation of the vessels may result in a decrease in the pressure against the walls of the vessels. Niacin may be purchased over the counter and is much less expensive than prescribed antihypertensives. It is not without its side effects however. Flushing of the face and neck often occurs. This blushing and warm sensation results from vasodilation and is so common that it is referred to as a "niacin flush." Many people find this sensation uncomfortable and chose to discontinue niacin because of this. Starting at a low dose and gradually increasing it will help to minimize the flushing effect.
In addition to the positive effects on blood pressure niacin also raises HDL (the good cholesterol). Hypertension and low levels of good cholesterol are some of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Although it is a naturally occurring B-complex vitamin, niacin needs to be taken with care especially if you are taking other medications. When taken with cholesterol-lowering drugs there is a risk for liver damage. Always consult your healthcare provider when considering niacin for blood pressure therapy and to determine the amount you should be taking.
Above all, lifestyle modification should be the first step when diagnosed with hypertension. If weight loss, exercise, and diet changes do not result in a decrease in blood pressure then supplements or medications may be appropriate.
Sheryl is a kinesiologist, nutritionist and holistic practitioner. Her website www.younglivingguide.com provides the latest research on preventing disease, looking naturally gorgeous, and feeling emotionally and physically fabulous. You can also find some of the most powerful super foods on the planet including raw chocolate, purple corn, and many others.