November 5, 2008

Vitamin B3 May Reduce Alzheimer’s Symptoms

An over-the-counter vitamin in high doses prevented memory loss in mice with Alzheimer's disease, U.S. researchers said.

Researchers at the University of California at Irvine are conducting a clinical trial to determine the effects of the vitamin, Nicotinamide, on humans.

Nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3, lowered levels of a protein -- phosphorylated tau -- that leads to the development of tangles, one of two brain lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease, the researchers said.

The vitamin also strengthened scaffolding along which information travels in brain cells, helping to keep neurons alive and further preventing symptoms in mice genetically wired to develop Alzheimer's.

"Nicotinamide has a very robust effect on neurons," lead author Kim Green said in a statement. "Nicotinamide prevents loss of cognition in mice with Alzheimer's disease, and the beauty of it is we already are moving forward with a clinical trial."

Nicotinamide is a water-soluble vitamin sold in health food stores. It is generally considered safe but can be toxic in very high doses, the study said.

Clinical trials have shown it benefits people with diabetes complications and has anti-inflammatory properties that may help people with skin conditions.

The study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.