A B vitamin, and specifically a form of vitamin B3, may help fight Alzheimer's and make neurons work better. This is the result of a very recent scientific research that appeared in the Aging Cell magazine thanks to the work of an American team from the National Institute on Aging, Baltimore (Vreones et al, Aging Cell, 2022).
Alzheimer's, what happens in the brain
Alzheimer's is a disease whose causes have not yet been fully understood. Nowadays, according to the most recent studies, it is believed that two conditions must coexist for Alzheimer's to develop. These conditions are neuroinflammation and the formation of aggregates of tau proteins and amyloid beta in the brain. These aggregates are toxic and inhibit the ability of neurons to speak through signals. Not only that, it seems that amyloid beta proteins not only aggregate between cells, but that they can also enter the cell and in particular act on the mitochondria, which are organelles responsible for the production of energy. Neurons need a lot of energy to function and a drop in their "fuel" causes the loss of neuronal function. What is proposed is the explanation that is currently being offered about what happens in the case of Alzheimer's disease.
Vitamin B3, more energy for the brain, the study
The study we are talking about today wanted to test what happens after taking supplements containing a form of vitamin B3, or nicotinamide riboside. In fact, group B vitamins stimulate energy production and therefore the hypothesis is that they can also restore it when it is altered. To test this hypothesis, the scientists recruited 22 adults, average age 65 and all healthy. Half of the volunteers were asked to take two capsules a day containing 500 mg of nicotinamide riboside for 6 weeks. Before and at the end of the study, the volunteers underwent physical examinations and blood tests. What emerged was that those who had taken vitamin B3 had an increase in NAD+, or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. NAD+ is a molecule involved in cellular energy metabolism and is essential for creating energy by the mitochondria. NAD+ generally decreases with age and an increase in it is reflected in better brain function. Not only that, vitamin B3 also allowed a reduction in markers indicating the presence of beta amyloid and tau aggregates, as well as those representing neuroinflammation.
The study is still in its initial phase and much needs to be done to shed light on this fascinating topic. At the moment, however, we know that a B vitamin, vitamin B3, increases the energy available to neurons and reduces markers that indicate an increased risk of developing dementia. It will be very interesting to observe whether these results can also be replicated in the case of vitamin B3 taken with food, this vitamin is in fact contained in spinach, peanuts, brewer's yeast, poultry and some fish such as salmon and tuna, and if this also applies to other B vitamins that participate in energy production processes, such as B1 or B2.