Niacin Can Raise Blood Glucose – Here are Some Ways to Lower It

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There’s evidence that having high blood glucose speeds up the aging process and makes us more vulnerable to both bacterial and viral infections. If our blood sugar is high, for example, we’re more likely to become infected with the coronavirus that’s been causing so many problems in the world today. The inverse can also be true; an infection can sometimes leave us with more severe blood sugar problems.

High Blood Glucose Can Lead to High Insulin

A related problem is that the body responds to high glucose by producing more insulin.  Chronically high blood sugar can result in insulin resistance, and in higher mTOR activity, which is also associated with a shorter lifespan.

Taking Niacin Can Raise Blood Glucose – and Cause Type 2 Diabetes

Some people are taking the B vitamin niacin (nicotinic acid) because they consider it an inexpensive supplement for raising NAD+ levels.

There is some evidence that it is effective at raising NAD. But according to an article entitled “Niacin therapy and the risk of new-onset Diabetes”, taking niacin can at least sometimes also raise blood glucose, and can result in a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

From the Article:

Previous studies have suggested that niacin treatment raises glucose levels in patients with diabetes and may increase the risk of developing diabetes. We undertook a meta-analysis of published and unpublished data from randomised trials to confirm whether an association exists between niacin and new-onset diabetes….

One potentially important side effect known to occur on niacin is a rise in glucose levels in those with diabetes. Findings from a post-hoc analysis of the Coronary Drug Project suggested that this effect also occurred in those without diabetes, leading to an increase in the risk of developing diabetes

Raising NAD+ Without Niacin

Ways to increase NAD+ levels without taking niacin include taking supplements of NMN or taking NR. Both have found to be effective at increasing blood levels of NAD+. However, they don’t have the lipid-lowering properties of niacin. For those who decide to keep taking niacin, are there ways to compensate for its tendency to raise blood glucose?

How to Lower Blood Glucose

There are a number of things we can do to lower our blood glucose. Some of them have the additional advantage of lowering mTOR. They include:

  1. Exercising. According to the American Diabetes Assocation, “Physical activity can lower your blood sugar up to 24 hours or more after your workout by making your body more sensitive to insulin.” More information
  2. Intermittent and prolonged fasting.
  3. Eating a low-carbohydrate diet.
  4. Drinking water. Staying hydrated increases the volume of liquid in our blood and reduces the sugar content accordingly. See article.
  5. Eating a ketogenic diet (high in fat, moderate in protein, and very low in carbs). (Ketogenic diets are a specific variety of low-carb meal planning. They can improve blood glucose levels, moderate some of the symptoms of diabetes, and reduce the need for insulin).
  6. Taking metformin.
  7. Taking berberine (similar in many respects to metformin, though its mechanism is different). (It’s usually taken along with milk thistle to improve absorption)
  8. Taking or cooking with Ceylon cinnamon (Note: Cassia cinnamon can be toxic and cause liver problems. Ceylon cinnamon is considered safer.
  9. Taking Chromium (may be helpful for people with prediabetes and insulin resistance).
  10. Taking Benfotiamine (an activated form of vitamin B1 (thiamine) –– controls many of the symptoms of diabetes)

More about Exercise

From an American Diabetes Association article entitled “Blood Sugar and Exercise

There are a few ways that exercise lowers blood sugar:

Insulin sensitivity is increased, so your muscle cells are better able to use any available insulin to take up glucose during and after activity.

When your muscles contract during activity, your cells are able to take up glucose and use it for energy whether insulin is available or not.

This is how exercise can help lower blood sugar in the short term. And when you are active on a regular basis, it can also lower your A1C…

My Exerience:

I take 1500 mg of DoNotAge’s NMN powder most mornings (along with 1 gram of TMG and 500 mg of resveratrol). (I do this partly because it’s a known-good product, and partly because their discount code makes it more affordable, particularly as a bulk powder.) I sometimes also take 500 mg of Doctor’s Best niacin in the early evening, because (1) it lowers LDL cholesterol; (2) it raises HDL cholesterol; (3) it lowers triglycerides, and (4) because it promotes sleep through prostaglandin synthesis.

I take chromium and berberine along with it because both help control blood glucose levels and lower insulin resistance.

I was told that I was pre-diabetic a few years ago, possibly because I was taking a lot of niacin. I reversed the prediabetes (while still taking niacin) by exercising more, lowering my consumption of carbohydrates, and taking chromium and berberine along with the niacin.

Since then, I’ve tried a number of different approaches to keeping my blood glucose levels low, including: 

  • Taking berberine and milk thistle together. Both lower blood glucose. Milk thistle helps the body absorb berberine.
  • Taking benfotiamine and Ceylon cinnamon  together.
  • When eating a sweet meal (such as dark chocolate and berries): any or all of the above.
  • So far it’s working well. My LDL and triglycerides are low, my HDL has almost doubled, and my blood glucose levels have improved.

References:

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