Inositol Hexanicotinate (IHN)

Inositol hexanicotinate (also known as inositol hexaniacinate or inositol nicotinate) is the hexanicotinic acid ester of meso-inositol. This chemical compound consists of six molecules of nicotinic acid (niacin) with an inositol molecule in the center of the structure.

It is a popular form of food supplements where it acts a source of niacin (vitamin B3), one of the essential human nutrients. Although the inositol hexanicotinate complex does not represent an essential nutrient, niacin is pivotal to cellular metabolism, playing the important role in coenzyme function and oxidation-reduction reactions.

Metabolism of the inositol hexanicotinate

Inositol hexanicotinate is (at least partially) absorbed intact and subsequently hydrolysed in the body, resulting in a free nicotinic acid and inositol. Although gastrointestinal absorption of inositol hexanicotinate can vary significantly, approximately 70% of an orally ingested dose absorbs into the bloodstream.

Oral administration of inositol hexanicotinate results in a steady increase in the level of free nicotinic acid in blood and plasma. The compound appears to be metabolized slowly, with serum levels of nicotinic acid peaking roughly 6-10 hours after ingestion, compared to the intake of free nicotinic acid when plasma levels can peak after merely half an hour.

The extent of hydrolysis of inositol hexanicotinate appears to be very low; therefore, differences in plasma levels of free nicotinic acid after administering similar oral doses of inositol hexanicotinate and free nicotinic acid may be responsible for different effects observed in clinical studies. In fact, the observed effects for inositol hexanicotinate may not be related to its total nicotinic acid content, but rather to a direct effect of the compound on the organism.

Beneficial effects of free nicotinic acid and extended-release nicotinic acid in lowering the concentration of lipids are well established, but the beneficial effects of inositol hexanicotinate on serum lipids depends on the uptake and subsequent release of the nicotinic acid moieties from the inositol hexanicotinate molecule. Considering the aforementioned low extent of hydrolysis, this mechanism is not sufficient to significantly alter plasma lipid profiles.

Clinical value and dosing

Inositol hexanicotinate has a proven beneficial effect on enothelium-dependent vasodilatation (widening of blood vessels), thus it improves blood flow in conditions where it is compromised. In Europe it is often prescribes as a patented drug known under a name Hexopal, indicated for the symptomatic relief of Raynaud’s phenomenon and severe intermittent claudication. A common dose of inositol hexanicotinate for these conditions is 3 g per day, which can be increased to 4 g per day if necessary.

Nicotinic acid given as inositol hexanicotinate in a dose of 10 mg per day would amount to a daily dose of 11 mg inositol hexanicotinate, with the release of 2.4 mg inositol upon hydrolysis. Since the estimated normal dietary intake of inositol amounts up to 1500 mg of myoinositol (naturally occuring inositol) per day, the European Food Safety Authority panel concluded that the intake of 2.4 mg inositol/day, resulting from the abovementioned dose of 11 mg per day, would not be of safety concern.

Inositol hexanicotinate acts as a slow-release supply of nicotinic acid; hence the flushing effect is not a likely event when inositol hexanicotinate is used as a source of niacin due to the slow hydrolysis of the nicotinic acid molecules from the inositol. For that reason this compound is often described as “no flush niacin”. No adverse effects have been observed in clinical trials using inositol hexanicotinate up to 4000 mg daily for 3 months.

Even though there are no genotoxicity data available on inositol hexanicotinate, there are no safety concerns. As already mentioned, inositol hexanicotinate is hydrolysed to inositol and nicotinic acid, which are both endogenous compounds that occur in several dietary products. In addition, the safety of nicotinic acid has been thoroughly evaluated by various authorities – including the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF).


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Further Reading

Last Updated: Aug 23, 2018

Dr. Tomislav Meštrović

Written by

Dr. Tomislav Meštrović

Dr. Tomislav Meštrović is a medical doctor (MD) with a Ph.D. in biomedical and health sciences, specialist in the field of clinical microbiology, and an Assistant Professor at Croatia's youngest university - University North. In addition to his interest in clinical, research and lecturing activities, his immense passion for medical writing and scientific communication goes back to his student days. He enjoys contributing back to the community. In his spare time, Tomislav is a movie buff and an avid traveler.


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  1. Michael Czajka Michael Czajka Australia says:

    I've been using this flush free form of niacin (500 mg) for years... and get excellent results from it. It helps control things like cholesterol, FFA's, homocysteine, blood glucose, increase circulation, increase metabolism and control blood pressure. While it is rare to flush when taking 500 mg or more... it is possible... but the flush is very mild: Generally you can't see it but you can feel it.

    Most people won't take the fast release niacin and the slow release (usually in a wax) niacin often releases too quickly so you still get the flush. Thus most people won't take the slow release niacin either.

    This form is a good compromise and I've had a lot of success with it. What is surprising is that the literature isn't as positive. Some of the ambiguity in the literature may be down to which parameters are being measured, how much was given... and the confounding effects of other medications given with niacin.

    In my case my blood results are all in the excellent range... and I attribute the bulk of it to this form of niacin. Also checked my mums results before and her cholesterol and blood sugars all moved into the normal range after taking this form of niacin. It also helps keep her BP low.

    I'm sure the other forms of niacin also work just as well... but very few people are willing to take them: The vitamin you are willing to take is better than the one you're not willing to take?


    Can you tell me if it removes arterial plaques?  Also if it is actually lowering the cholesterol?  I have extremely high cholesterol and refuse to take statins; i also have arterial plaques.  I am taking a flushing niacin and find it so difficult to take as i bought the powder in caps by mistake so difficult to only take half; what brand are you using?  I need to get my cholesterol numbers down.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.