Inositol Hexanicotinate (IHN)

One popular form of dietary supplement is inositol hexanicotinate (IHN), which is inositol that has been esterified with niacin on all six of inositol's alcohol groups.

IHN is usually sold as "flush-free" or "no-flush" niacin in units of 250, 500, or 1000 mg/tablet or capsule.

It is sold as an over-the-counter formulation and often marketed and labeled as niacin, thus misleading consumers into thinking they are getting the active form of the medication.

While this form of niacin does not cause the flushing associated with the immediate-release products, the evidence that it has lipid-modifying functions is contradictory, at best.

As the clinical trials date from the early 1960s (Dorner, Welsh) or the late 1970s (Ziliotto, Kruse, Agusti), it is difficult to assess them by today's standards.

One of the last of those studies affirmed the superiority of inositol and xantinol esters of nicotinic acid for reducing serum free fatty acid, but other studies conducted during the same period found no benefit.

A more recent placebo-controlled trial was small (n=11/group), but results after three months at 1500 mg/day showed no trend for improvements in total cholesterol, LDL-C, HDL-C or triglycerides. Thus, so far there is not enough evidence to recommend IHN to treat dyslipidemia.

Furthermore, the American Heart Association and the National Cholesterol Education Program both take the position that only prescription niacin should be used to treat dyslipidemias, and only under the management of a physician.

The reason given is that niacin at effective intakes of 1500–3000 mg/day can also potentially have severe adverse effects.

Monitoring of liver enzymes is necessary.

Further Reading


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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011

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