Vitamin B3 Protects From Alzheimer's
A vitamin found in meat, fish and potatoes may
help protect the brain from Alzheimer's disease - and even boost
memory in healthy people.
US researchers found vitamin B3 lowered levels of a protein
linked to Alzheimer's damage in mice.
The Journal of Neuroscience study also showed the animals performed
better at memory tests.
UK Alzheimer's charities said people should not start taking
the vitamin before results from human studies.
The vitamin, also called nicotinamide by scientists, is sold
in UK pharmacies and health food shops.
It has already been shown to help people suffering from diabetes
complications and has some anti-inflammatory qualities.
The researchers, from the University of California at Irvine,
added the vitamin to drinking water given to mice bred to develop
a version of Alzheimer's disease, then tested the levels of
certain chemicals associated with the condition.
They found that levels of one, called phosphorylated tau, were
significantly lower in the animals.
This protein is involved in abnormal 'deposits' in brain cells,
called 'tangles', which contribute to the brain damage which
progressively affects people with Alzheimer's.
Using 'water mazes', the team also found some evidence that
memory was enhanced in both 'Alzheimer's' mice and unaffected
Dr Kim Green, who led the study, said that human tests were
progressing: "Nicotinamide has a very robust effect on neurons.
It prevents loss of cognition in mice with Alzheimer's disease,
and the beauty of it is we already are moving forward with a
His colleague Professor Frank LaFerla, said: "This suggests
that not only is it good for Alzheimer's disease, but if normal
people take it, some aspects of their memory might improve."
Susanne Sorensen, the head of research at the Alzheimer's Society,
said the research was "interesting" and pointed to new ways
to treat the condition.
"From the research, it appears that Nicotinamide has more than
one beneficial effect on nerve cells including the facilitation
of the recycling of the 'bad' phosphorylated tau.
"Nicotinamide occurs naturally in meat, fish, beans, cereals
and potatoes and is cheap and easy to take.
"However, more research is now needed to explore the possible
mechanisms involved so we can better understand if Nicotinamide
could have the same effect in people and, if it does, what level
of vitamin intake would be required."