Take Niacin for Depression: Studies Look Promising

niacin for depression

Use niacin for depression? Now, it isn’t proven in concrete that niacin cures depression but there are a lot of studies out there that suggest that niacin can be used in high dosages to help tremendously with depression.

Depression is a complex issue.  The fact is, a lot of things attribute to depression.

  • Overall health
  • Stress
  • Mineral and vitamin deficiencies (Niacin falls under this category)
  • Hormone levels
  • Diet

Now Niacin is another name for vitamin B3 and it has a TON of great benefits. Oddly enough, it’s actually related closer to an amino acid than a vitamin.

Niacin comes in two forms you can buy:

  • Niacin: This is the flushing form which means that you will develop a burning sensation in your skin resembling a small sunburn. For some it is uncomfortable. This is usually the form that is recommended by most doctors (Hoffer & Yu) since niacinamide can be attributed to poisoning your liver.
  • Niacinamide: This is the form that has no flushing effect. It is hypothesized that the flushing effect is needed for the best effect. You must be careful with this one because it might cause damage to your liver when you take it in a high dosages.

Supporting Credibility of Niacin

How niacin works remains a mystery to many researchers and medical professional.  Let’s take a look at all the clinical trials supporting niacin for depression and the doctors who have recommended it.

  • Andrew Saul Ph.D., is a leading advocate in holistic medicine. He recently appeared in an interview in the documentary movie Food Matters where he highly advises to use niacin for depression. Below is that clip of the movie.

  • Bill Wilson, who is the original pioneer of treating AA patients with high dosages of niacin for depression, fatigue, and alcoholism. He conducted the first clinical trial and discovered that 20 out of 30 of his patients were relieved of their symptoms. He created a pamphlet titled The Vitamin B Therapy in 1967-68.
  • David Hawkins followed Bill’s success and conducted a larger trial (90 patients) and reported that 90% of his patients were relieved and recovered from alcohol.
  • Russell Smith conducted the longest and largest clinical trial with high dose niacin and alcoholics and had great results. Which is documented below:
    • A five year field trial of massive nicotinic acid therapy of alcoholics in Michigan. Journal of Orthomolecular Psychiatry 3:327-331, 1974.
  • Interview with Dr. Mercola and Dr Yu describing the benefits of using niacin.

Niacin Studies

Below are three niacin studies that show promising results in treating depression.

  1. L. TONGE, M.B


  • Sydenstricker VP, Cleckley HM. The effect of nicotinic acid in stupor, lethargy and various other psychiatric disorders.American Journal of Psychiatry. 1941;98:83–92.

Here is a research paper on Niacin that combines all the studies and trials into a cohesive well-informed document that you should look into if you want more information.

Is Niacin Safe?

As Andrew Saul said in his interview, no one has ever died directly from niacin.  However to be safe, you should consult a doctor.

Niacin is naturally made inside your body by breaking down the amino acid, tryptophan.

Plenty of Doctors including Dr. Yu and Dr. Mercola recommend niacin for better overall health benefits.

Niacin Dosage:

Always start small with your niacin dosage.  You can start as low as 100 mg and take it three times a day after meals. You will build up a tolerance to niacin and its flushing effect, so therefore you can steadily increase your daily dosage of niacin to around 500 mg to 1000 mg per dose as described on Andrew Saul’s website.

If you take niacin on an empty stomach, you will flush a lot faster with more intensity.

My Personal Use of Niacin

I was first introduced to niacin when my brother told me he was using a niacin detox protocol.  He said that he loved it and recommended that I try it.  I further researched niacin and its benefits and then I stumbled across all of these studies, clinical trials and Dr. Yu’s information on the Internet for niacin detox. I built up to taking a 1000 mg niacin dosage. You can read more about my niacin detox program and my results. Overall, you feel very focused and very care free.  I noticed that the effect wasn’t consistent though. Some days I felt more effect than other days.  This brand of Niacin is what I tried out.  It’s pretty cheap!  Overall it’s definitely worth a try.

Bottom Line: Does Niacin for Depression Work?

It is not 100% proven that niacin directly treats depression. However, niacin for depression should really be considered because it has demonstrated promising clinical trials and studies.  More research needs to go into Niacin before anything conclusive is stated though.

The best way to find out if it works for you is to experiment for yourself. Go out and buy yourself a bottle of niacin (Flushing form) and start experimenting.

Further on Depression

On a side topic, if you’re depressed, you should try experimenting with Methylfolate (B9) and Vitamin B12.  These are other vitamins if you’re deficient in, you’ll most likely be depressed.  This is especially true if you have the MTHFR gene mutation (article if you want to learn more about it).