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Health and cholesterol; Niacin, BAIBA and more

Dr. Atlas

New member
While the "live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse" population is certainly represented here at Elitefitness, I think those wanting to prolong the joys of life are the majority. These are the people more likely to be interested in what I share here.

We are bombarded with information on a regular basis, often by people telling us to be scared, and to send them money to keep the sky from falling, or whatever. The fact many people have the attention span of a ferret on crack doesn't help. It's impossible for us know everything, and things we don't understand can be scary. I might bombard you with information, but I won't ask you for money :)

Cholesterol gets a lot of press, most of it of the bad/scary/confusing variety, but many people don't understand what it is or what it does. In a nutshell, lipoproteins (blood lipids, cholesterol) are your body's way of making fats soluble in our watery blood. They're also essential for making cell membranes, steroid hormones, and Vitamin D. Cholesterol itself is not evil, or scary, and (contrary to the medical establishment) it isn't a very good predictor of disease and death. That is because blood lipid disturbances are more a sign of poor health than a cause of it. There isn't much money to be made in treating symptoms that people can't feel though, so the pharmaceutical industry downplays this.

Low-density lipoproteins are like the people you can see at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet spilling over the sides of their chairs. Both tend to be large, low-density, sloppy, and tend to get stuck in narrow passageways like doorways or blood vessels. High-density lipoproteins are more like strength athletes trying to gain muscle at the same buffet. When an HDL sees some lipoprotein stuck to an arterial wall, it tries to lift it. A higher proportion of big sloppy LDLs is a sign of metabolic issues, while a higher proportion of HDLs is a sign of a well-tuned metabolic machine. Some oils are claimed to reduce LDL and raise HDL, but these effects are often overstated, or at least too subtle to make much difference. Too much total cholesterol indicates that fat may play too great a role in your life. Of course, genetics and environment play major roles in this. Most of your cholesterol is made by your body, the stuff in your diet is a very small proportion. Many saturated animal fats do have some unfortunate effects though, prompting your body to make more LDL, while also reducing insulin sensitivity.

People with high LDL cholesterol are at a somewhat increased risk for cardiovascular death and disease. Oxidized LDLs are found in the arterial clogs that contribute to heart attacks, strokes, etc.. My point is that the LDL cholesterol itself is more a sign of metabolic dysfunction than the disease itself. Metabolic syndrome is the real culprit. Metabolic syndrome is the term used to describe a common pattern; high blood pressure, obesity, high triglycerides, high LDL, low HDL, high blood sugar, and insulin resistance eventually becoming diabetes. It is believed to result from a prolonged metabolic insult, such as years of too much eating and not much exercise.

The pharmaceutical industry loves statins, and seems to wish everyone was on them. For years they have funded many huge studies trying to prove that statins do wonderful things. Only barely, by debatable standards and methods, have they shown the slightest benefits for mortality and morbidity. They also try not to mention that statins increase insulin resistance, and downplay the risk of muscle breakdown and death.

Some of us were cursed with a rotten lipid profile by genetics, while bodybuilders are well known for using substances that cause ugly effects on blood lipid profiles. So, then, how are you to improve your scores, and get your doctor off your back? Oat bran, available at many health food shops, and supermarkets, is a great place to start. 50g of the stuff twice a day will do good things. It's like a ant trap for cholesterol; cholesterol goes in, but it doesn't come out, thereby ending up in the toilet. Oat bran is cheap, natural, and offers several other health benefits. Wiki it.

From the strength athlete's perspective, niacin has a lot to offer. I refer only to the immediate-release variety that causes "flushing", a hot-prickly sensation of the skin accompanied by increased blood flow and redness. Some bodybuilders report using this flush to their advantage for competition, as the redness can't be seen under the fake tan (for the melanin challenged), and the increased blood flow to the skin improves vascularity. Many people find flushing uncomfortable, but research suggests it offers benefits beyond those of the niacin itself. Aspirin or ibuprofen have been shown to reduce flushing, while also offering many health benefits themselves. It is likely that studies finding NSAIDS reduce muscle building were poorly designed, but there could be some truth to it. Vitamin C may limit flushing as well.

The only serious risk with niacin is the strain it can put on your liver. Your body has two kinds of niacin receptors. Once all of these have niacin bound to them, the excess niacin in the blood is addressed by the liver. Regular exposure to niacin causes your body to create more receptors, and eventually the body can handle much more. Other things people here might use, such as aas and alcohol, also strain the liver, however from what I can deduce they do it in different, noncumulative ways than niacin. Some people report ill effects from combining alcohol with niacin, but not many. 500mg once a day for a month is a decent place to start, then ramping up another 500mg per day per month, until you reach a target from 2000-4000 mg (spaced throughout the day, smaller doses are better, trust me). Doctors have prescribed up to 6000mg. Liver function tests are recommended at higher doses, and be aware of warning signs of liver damage; pain under the front lower border of the right side rib cage, yellowing of the eyeballs, darkness/browning of the urine, severe itching (constant, not just while flushing). Niacin is best taken with food. Extended-release niacin has been shown to place much greater strain on the liver than immediate-release. Many doctors won't have a problem prescribing immediate-release niacin. It's cheap. Otherwise, acceptable varieties can be found online and at some stores.

Good effects of niacin include lowered triglycerides, lower LDL, higher HDL. Niacin causes large releases of your natural growth hormone. Studies show it protects against cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, metabolic syndrome, depression, some degenerative neural conditions, improves recovery from brain injury, and increases expression of desirable genes. It has anti-inflammatory effects.

An interesting effect of niacin is that it promotes the transformation of slow-oxidative (least strong, best endurance) and fast-oxidative-glycolytic (middling strength and endurance) muscle fibers into fast-glycolytic muscle fibers (highest strength/ lowest endurance, the ones best suited for strength training and bodybuilding).

Niacin supplementation increases levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate, an important cofactor in anabolic processes and an additional source of energy storage. This may explain why niacin protects against, and improves recovery from, ischemic (oxygen deprivation) events. On a side note, this is a way creatine protects against, and improves recovery from, ischemic events; increased energy storage.

Aside from the flushing, and potential for liver damage, niacin can temporarily raise blood glucose levels. This appears to be due, at least in part, to the large pulses of growth hormone released, and is not indicative of any metabolic disorder. Niacin is appropriate for diabetics. Niacin can cause muscle soreness in about 1% of users. I'm curious to know if Coenzyme Q10 reduces this muscle pain, as it also protects muscles and liver from statins. Niacin does modestly raise blood homocysteine, but this is far outweighed by its healthy effects. Homocysteine is possibly another symptom, not cause, of health concerns. Niacin can also "thin" the blood, decreasing the tendency and speed of clotting. In some ways this is desirable, reducing the chance of ischemic events, but is something to be aware of. Niacin is not recommended during pregnancy.

In conclusion, niacin is good stuff. Personally, I'm up to 3000mg a day now.

With all the exciting stuff going on with SARMs (even SERMs), it's less surprising that something else with great promise has flown (mostly) under the radar; BAIBA (3-aminoisobutyric acid, β-aminoisobutyric acid). While BAIBA seems to have wider application than just bodybuilders, bodybuilders are far more likely to self-medicate than the general population.

Not that BAIBA is scary stuff; it is a metabolite found naturally in your body, resulting from the breakdown of thymine in the course of exercise, and from the catabolism of valine. It is also a potent chemical messenger. It is best known for its effects on fat metabolism, and has been called "exercise in a pill".

You are probably aware that not all body fat is created equal. There is the ugly "white" body fat, where your body stores long-term energy, which we seem to be in a constant battle to eliminate. Don't get me wrong, white fat has its place, but that place isn't often found in western civilizations for the last 200 years or so. Food energy is now so abundant that long-term storage creates more problems than it solves.

"Brown" fat is where it's at, brothers and sisters. Mammals in freezing climates have lots of brown fat. Eskimos have lots of brown fat. Brown fat is what allows bears and such to hibernate without turning into solid blocks of ice. Brown fat collects and stores fat for the sole purpose of burning fat for heat. Thermogenesis, like we tried to create with the old caffeine-ephedrine-aspirin stack back in the day, or what some of the "live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse" crowd uses DNP for now.

Most humans have little brown fat, lots of white fat. The "brown" appearance comes from the presence of many mitochondria, the power generators of all our cells. BAIBA has been shown to increase mitochondria formation in white fat, turning it into "beige fat", and creating a constant decrease in those ugly fat stores. It has also been shown to significantly reduce LDL and triglycerides, increase HDL, improve insulin sensitivity, lower homocysteine, lower blood sugar; things that people spend many hours hoping to achieve with aerobic exercise, without the joint pains. Studies show human subjects using appropriate amounts of BAIBA burn more fat, have improved blood chemistry, and continue improved body composition even after stopping use. Everything but the improvements in cardiovascular fitness.

It being naturally found in cells, and with no significant side effects noted, it is available over the counter as a supplement, at least in the USA. The effects aren't immediate like dbol, but at least they are healthy. After reasonably exhaustive research on the stuff, I have yet to find serious downsides to BAIBA. It might make your sweaters obsolete, and your air conditioning costs might go up. Even the cost (at suggested 500mg/day starting dose) isn't too bad; a 60 day supply, from Amazon, under $40 delivered.

On the subjects of health, and cholesterol, I'll just mention: Creatine tends to have beneficial effects on cholesterol, insulin resistance, and homocysteine, among many other benefits. Ibuprofen, and to a (debatably) lesser extent aspirin, have well-documented benefits regarding all-cause mortality and morbidity, but some worry about possible muscle growth inhibition. Vitamin D and fish oil have many more documented up sides than down. Spent brewer's yeast (not the unbittered kind) with its wealth of B vitamins, selenium and chromium, seems likely to benefit everyone, especially pregnant women. Sunflower lethicin is probably good stuff too, just waiting on high quality research.

Here's to your health!

Congratulations for reading this long! You have a better attention span than a ferret on crack! All scientific information provided here is from peer-reviewed journals, with some interpretation by the author, and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Peace!
Good post.

It's also valuable to understand that while both statins and niacin lower cholesterol, the physiological ways they accomplish that are different and largely explain why one is seriously toxic and the other is very beneficial - read thru this scholarly report by googling "Do Garcinia Cambogia Side Effects Boost Diabetes?" (at supplements-and-health dot com)
"In conclusion, niacin is good stuff. Personally, I'm up to 3000mg a day now. "

I have seen as little at 1000mg a day of niacin put people in the hospital that turned out to be sensitive to it. It's not rare at all for Niacin to cause uncontrolled increases in BP and heart rate in a small percent of people who try it.

Also when used at normal doses 15mg a where near 3000mg here are the side effects

Niacin is likely safe when taken by mouth daily in recommended amounts under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider. Homocysteine levels should be monitored.
Niacin or niacinamide may result in the following side effects: abnormal heart rhythms, ascites (fluid build-up in the gut lining), blurred vision, build-up of lactic acid in the body, bleeding disorders, changes in liver structure, changes in thyroid hormones, decreased platelets, decreased fibrinogen (chemical that helps clotting), decreased white blood cells, diarrhea, displacement of the eye, dizziness, dry eyes, dry skin, eye disease, eye swelling, eyebrow and eyelash discoloration, failure of blood circulation, fainting, flushing, headache, heartburn, hernia, hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid), increased blood volume in the eye, increased heartbeat, increased creatine kinase, increased homocysteine levels, increased insulin resistance, increased insulin in the blood, increased liver enzymes, increased risk of muscle breakdown, increased uric acid levels in the blood, increased eosinophils (a white blood cell), inflammation of the cornea of the eye, insulin resistance, itching, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), liver adverse effects, liver damage, liver inflammation, liver failure, loss of eyebrows and eyelashes, migraine, muscle disease, nausea, pain in the gums and teeth, panic, peptic ulcer disease, rash, stomach upset, sugar and ketones in the urine, swelling, vision loss due to toxic reactions, vomiting, and warm sensations.
Niacin may increase blood sugar levels"
Fish oil, vit k2, albana and a b complex containinh a small amount of niacin will keep your lipids as healthy as possible. 3000mg? Maybe 3000mcg...
Real doctors prescribe up to 6000mg. The real benefits don't start showing until 1500mg.

Polarbear, I'm surprised at some of the side effects you mention; for instance, the evidence shows a general decrease in insulin resistance and insulin levels. It reminds me of pharmaceutical ads on television, which after hearing all the possible bad effects one wonders why anybody would ever use it. Everybody is different, and can have different responses to it, but the vast majority of people have good results. Considering what other "supplements" people on the boards here use, niacin seems pretty benign.

I'm not saying there is no reason why it is generally started on the advice and supervision of a doctor. By the same token, 2 otherwise healthy employees at one hospital I worked at were killed by statins (rhabdomyolysis progressing to multiple organ failure) in short time, yet not many doctors or patients question its use.

Studies show that, used in doses large enough to decrease triglycerides and increase HDLs, niacin decreases disease states (morbidity) and increases longevity (mortality). In order to get the most interesting effects (as strength athletes, etc. are concerned) namely large releases of growth hormone, and the transformation of muscle fibers to fast-glycolytic, 1500 mg/day seems to be the threshold.

All due respect bigorse, in my life I encounter many people with abnormal blood lipids, and "enhanced" strength-athletes and BBs have some of the worst lipid profiles. It takes a little more than that to maintain healthy lipids if ones are naturally poor, or if one is using other "supplements" famous for disrupting lipid profiles.
I get blood work done every other month and even on 2 methylated orals, 750mg test, igf, insulin, arimidex and tne i had perfect lipids... k2 esp. Is a must have under rated vitamin for heart and lipids look at some studies on it. 3000mg of niacin would have the majority of people severely flushed and with bp issues.
Ubiquinol (coq10) is another important supp for heart health
Whilst 3grams may be needed on rare case i certainly would bot be recommending those doses on a public forum where people will try replicate this without doctor supervision. As i said 3000mg would present possible dangers for a majority of people
I can tell you this...only 1 supplement has ever made me go to the ER ever... it was niacin at about 400mg as recommended by a DR at the time... Never ever again and I mean never will I take that crap again. BP and heart rate through the roof and face was purple and so hot it felt like if you didn't take your hand off it that it might burn you. The ER asked me if I had taken or eaten anything that day so I started naming everything I could think of and when I got to niacin they immediately stopped me and said this reaction to it was something they occasionally see.
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