Vitamin 'may be Alzheimer's aid'
Now you see it and now you don't: Vitamin B3 of all things.
Back in the late 60s I stumbled upon Orthomolecular Medicine while working at The Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital, the US' oldest psychiatric hospital.
At that time orthomolecular treatment was showing very good success in the treatment of schizophrenia, along with vitamin C, in very high doses.
Vitamin B3, or niacin, is also very helpful for fetal alcohol syndrome treatment, lowering cholesterol and other inflammatory states.
The non-flushing type of B3, niacinamide, is very helpful for Rheumatoid arthritis.
Now that the push is on for Big Pharma to take over control of supplements, and if the senior senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, has his way President-Elect Obama may close a noose around your access to supplements too.
In the mean time this study shows that supplements are very successful in treating serious health concerns, and there is no record of death or serious injury from using them.
Tell your doubting doctors that science back this up! And don't forget to let your members of Congress know you want not control over supplements by the pharmaceutical industry, and you want them covered in all health care plans.
(Note that presently the only vitamins approved under the Senior Medicare Drug Plan are Pfizer'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.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
Professor Frank LaFerla
University of California, Irvine
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 mice.
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 clinical trial."
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."
Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said until the human research was completed, people should not start taking the supplement.
"These are exciting findings, but until the results from the human clinical trial are announced, people should be wary about changing their diet or taking supplements. In high doses vitamin B3 can be toxic."
Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/7710365.stm
Published: 2008/11/05 10:04:04 GMT © BBC MMVIII