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  • Writer's pictureTara Vaughan

My Week on Niacin


My week on Niacin or should I say my week on hell. It started on Easter Monday. I had a late breakfast and shortly afterwards my father started telling me about this vitamin, B3 also known as Niacin. He was telling me the miracle stories that he had read or watched online. People taking high doses of Niacin and their depression clearing up after two weeks of taking it. I thought it was too good to be true but I thought, okay, why not, it’s only a vitamin what harm can it do. My father had read that you should take the pill on a full stomach and seeing as I had recently eaten gave it to me to take. As soon as I had taken my 50mg pill my father decided to tell me that there are only two side affects, getting itchy and a hot flush known as the Niacin Flush.

Nothing happened within the next hour and a half and I had forgotten that I had taken it. That day I was off to a surprise lunch to celebrate two good friends engagement. Whilst driving there came the itching, followed by the hot flush and nausea. I managed to get to the restaurant without being sick. I looked at myself in the mirror I looked sunburnt. I felt horrendous. I walked into the restaurant and joined my friends, within minutes I had to excuse myself to go to the loo. I had a ghastly bowl movement. Back at the table with my friends I didn’t feel any better and two minutes later I excused myself but this time I needed to be sick.

I stuck my head in the loo and sick kept coming up. I sat back against the wall and had stabbing pains from my stomach down to my knees. I had pins and needles from my elbows to my fingertips. One of my friends came and brought me a glass of water, more sick followed. Another friend, Alice, came and asked if she could drive me home. I said no. I hate being a nuisance. Go and enjoy yourself I wanted to say, don’t worry about me, I’m fine. Instead I asked her to call my mother and tell her to come and get me. She didn’t answer. Neither did my father, or my brother Jeremy or his wife Gaby. They were all together, my parents helping Jeremy and Gaby to move in to their new house but none of them answered.

Dear Alice, insisted on driving me home. She got me to my feet, and with an arm around me for support; she walked me to her car. Alice took me to Jeremy’s new house; my mother came over and tried to get me out of the car. My legs gave way, as they do ever since I found out about Hugo going out with his best friend, and I slid back into the car seat. Jeremy was called over and carried me from Alice’s car to my mothers. She drove me home and put me on the sofa.


I did not want to take the Niacin. As I can’t say no, when my mother asked me to I agreed as I always do and 45 minutes later I lay in a cold bath for an hour. I was a little itchy but nothing else.


I took the Niacin and my mother and I went for a walk to see Jeremy and help him with moving furniture around. As soon as I arrived at his house the hot flush and itching came on. I lay on a sofa and my mother ran back and forth with cold wet jay clothes and laid them on me. My face, neck, chest, arms and hands all bright red, hot and itchy.


I took the Niacin and lay in a cold bath for an hour. No itching and no hot flush. I got out and thought I’d jumped in the shower to warm myself up. Then it came, the burning. I turned the shower to as cold as it would go but it didn’t help. I had my face, neck, chest and hands under the cold water but the parts of my body that weren’t hot were frozen cold. I didn’t know what to do. I got out and called down to my mother. She came up to my room with jay-clothes and ran them under the cold tap, placing them on parts of my body in a rotation to keep them cold.


I took the Niacin and lay quietly on the sofa not daring to move. I had an itch in my right ear and as soon as I moved to itch it the hot flush and itching came. I called my mother and this time she came with frozen peas and chips. She undressed me as I lay there on the sofa. She went and got some ice and placed it under my knees. Lying there in my underwear not sure whether I was hot of cold. After 10 or 15 minutes I was shivering but at the same time I was still burning hot.


I stopped taking the Niacin. I started to do some research on dose levels and found a smaller dose of 25mg that I could take. My father ordered some for me.

The thing about Niacin is that it affects every body differently. My father took a 50mg dose and had no side effects. My oldest brother, Jamie, also took one and he had a hot flush. I can take a 25mg and have no side effects. For depression you are meant to build up a resistance slowly and gradually be able to take a dose of 2-3000mg a day. It’s the high doses that help with depression. I am nowhere near the high doses yet.

I went to see my nutritionist on Wednesday and she tested me to see which brand of Niacin suits my body best, thankfully it’s the 25mg pills that suit me best. What a relief. I am continuing to take them three times a day and hopefully I’ll find the courage to build that up until I get a hot flush.

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