Advertisement Vitamin B3 may be the key to improving cognitive and physical functions of those with Alzheimer’s disease . In a recent report, scientists from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) said that a specific form of Vitamin B3 known as nicotinamide riboside (NR) helped normalize the levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide or NAD+ – a metabolite considered to be vital to several bodily processes, including DNA repair – in a specially-developed strain of mice.
These mice, in particular, were specifically developed and bred to mimic key features of human Alzheimer’s. As such, they exhibited characteristics such as mitochondrial dysfunction, lower neuron production and increased neuronal dysfunction and inflammation, as well as tau pathology, failing synapses, neuronal death and cognitive impairment.
The full report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists , detailed how researchers tested the effects of an NR supplement by adding it to the drinking water of the newly developed mice. The team then observed the mice over a three-month period, after which they were examined. (Related: A form of vitamin B3 significantly reduces the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer .)
The researchers noted that NR-treated mice exhibited less DNA damage , higher neuroplasticity and increased production of new neurons from neuronal stem cells, in addition to having lower levels of neuronal damage and death. The NR-treated mice also performed better than control mice on multiple behavioral and memory tests, such as water mazes and object recognition.
In addition, the team reported that the NR-treated mice had better muscular and grip strength, as well as higher endurance, and even improved gait, compared to their control counterparts. These physical and cognitive benefits, they added, could be due to the NR supplement’s rejuvenating effect on stem cells in both muscle and brain tissue.
Treating mice with NR, the researchers said, appeared to clear existing DNA damage in the hippocampus.
“We are encouraged by these findings that see an effect in this Alzheimer’s disease model,” explained Dr. Vilhelm Bohr, a senior investigator for NIA’s Molecular Gerontology Lab and a co-author of the study, adding that the team is now planning to further test NR and other similar compounds in order to study their therapeutic potential for Alzheimer’s patients. What is nicotinamide riboside?
Also known as niagen, nicotinamide riboside is an alternate form of vitamin B3, a micronutrient that the body uses for proper metabolism and nervous system function, among others.
Just like other forms of vitamin B3, nicotinamide riboside is converted by the body into NAD+ , a coenzyme or helper molecule responsible for the following bodily processes. Producing cellular energy
Repairing damaged DNA
Fortifying cells’ natural defense systems
Protecting the body against oxidative stress from free radicals
Setting the body’s internal clock or circadian rhythm
First described in 1944, nicotinamide riboside — as with all forms of vitamin B3 — is an essential nutrient. This means that one must obtain it from food, as the body cannot produce it on its own. This means that problems can occur if one does not get enough amounts of this particular vitamin.
Some of the signs of vitamin B3 deficiency are: Sun-sensitive dermatitis, in which a thick, scaly, darkly pigmented rash develops symmetrically in areas exposed to sunlight.
Gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain and ultimately, diarrhea.
Neurological symptoms such as headaches, apathy, fatigue, depression, disorientation, and, in extreme cases, memory loss.
Classified by the Food and Drug Administration as “ Generally Recognized as Safe ,” studies have shown that nicotinamide riboside is non-toxic and can be safely taken up to doses of 1000?milligrams per day .
One must note, however, that nicotinamide riboside, unlike other forms of vitamin B3, is only present in trace amounts in most food items. Given this fact, it may be better for individuals to take nicotinamide riboside supplements instead.
If whole foods and natural sources are more of your thing, however, you may want to increase your intake of the following food items: Raw, unpasteurized dairy
Wild-caught fatty fish
Organic, free-range chicken breast
Organic, free-range beef liver
Organic green, leafy vegetables Organic whole grains If you want to protect yourself against the possibility of developing neurological disorders in the future, it may be time to boost your vitamin B3 intake in general by eating foods and taking supplements containing this essential nutrient . Sources include: UPI.com NIH.gov AboutNAD.com FDA.gov Nature.com