An organic acid (C6H5NO2), a carboxylated derivative of pyridine, obtained by the oxidation of nicotine; called also niacin and antipellagra vitamin, and vitamin B5. Chemically it is 3-pyridinecarboxylic acid.
Better known as niacin (vitamin B2), nicotinic acid—in high doses—can be used as a cholesterol-lowering drug. Niacin lowers LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides and also raises HDL-cholesterol. It accomplishes this by inhibiting the production of fat and cholesterol containing proteins by the liver. The most common side-effects of niacin are flushing, itching and dizziness. Slow release niacin (such as Niaspan) usually prevents these side-effects.