Niacin has been at the forefront of the fight against heart disease for some time now. However, new research finds that it may not be as useful in monitoring cholesterol as initially thought, and it may also come with its own chunk of unwanted side effects.

Lacking Evidence of Success

According to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, clinical trials haven't found a link between niacin and HDL cholesterol to date. In fact, this has been the case since the 1950s, when the vitamin was found to affect lipid levels, according to The New York Times. Yet research from both the National Institutes of Health and Merck, a drug company, failed at finding proof that niacin reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and death.

Despite the recent findings, it is likely that niacin will continue to be prescribed to patients who are dealing with heart issues. The New York Times article suggests talking to your doctor if you are currently taking niacin. However, it's important to note the potential side effects that are related to the B vitamin. According to the study published by Merck, individuals with atherosclerotic vascular disease who were taking extended-release niacin had issues with controlling their diabetes in addition to gastrointestinal system problems. So, it may not be worth starting niacin if you haven't already.

To learn more about living with a heart condition:

7 Tips to Help You Talk to Your Doctor about a Second Opinion
Talking to Your Doctor: What to Do when Potential Side Effects Are Worrying You
Am I Having a Heart Attack?