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Nicotinic acid

nik-oh-ton-ik ass-id

What does it do?

Nicotinic acid is used to lower cholesterol. This helps to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and other related problems.

How should you take it?

Take nicotinic acid regularly as directed. Take with food and a glass of water.

What if you forget a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and carry on as normal. Do not take two doses at the same time.

Can you take other medicines?

Some medicines available without a prescription may react with nicotinic acid including:

  • nicotine patches (e.g. Habitrol®)

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Symptoms of liver problems including: yellow skin or eyes, itching, dark urine, pale bowel motions, abdominal pain

Fast or irregular heartbeat

Tell your doctor immediately

Flushing, itching

Dizziness, headache

Tell your doctor if troublesome

Stomach upset

Take with food

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • Tell your doctor if you have kidney or liver problems, diabetes, gout or a stomach ulcer.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • Alcohol may increase side effects of nicotinic acid (e.g. facial flushing). Limit alcohol intake.
  • Avoid hot drinks around time when you take nicotinic acid as this may help prevent facial flushing.
  • Nicotinic acid is also known as niacin or vitamin B3.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the PILs Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Canterbury District Health Board, New Zealand. March 2017

For more general information about this sheet and its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

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About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at the Canterbury District Health Board. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed