Vitamin B3 May Help with Alzheimer's Disease
Researchers from the University of California have found that vitamin B3 lowers levels of phosphorylated tau, a protein linked to Alzheimer's damage. The protein is known to have a role in the development of abnormal tangles in brain cells, which in turn are suspected of having a significant involvement in the development Alzheimer's disease.
Laboratory mice, bred to develop a version of Alzheimer's disease, were given the vitamin in their drinking water. When they took part in water maze tests the addition of B3 seemed to improved the mice's memory.
Reporting in the Journal of Neuroscience the researchers, led by Dr Kim Green, also found that the memory of normal mice, that is mice unaffected by Alzheimer's, also improved.
Tau proteins are particularly abundant within the central nervous system, comprising the brain and spinal cord. The so-called ‘tau hypothesis' suggests that abnormalities in the tau protein start a kind of chain reaction. The role of phosphorylated tau in this context, is to initiate bonding with other tau threads. Eventually these threads will clump together and form neurofibrillary tangles with the cell body of the nerve itself. Effectively, this starts a degenerative process involving distortions in cell-to-cell communication, followed eventually by the death of affected cells.
The findings do not mean you should rush out to buy vitamin B3, also called nicotinamide. The study results will have to undergo human trials before it is known whether it has the same effect on those of us with or without Alzheimer's disease.
Nicotinamide is found naturally in meat, cereals, potatoes and fish. It is known to have anti-inflammatory qualities but can also be toxic in high doses.