(Naturalhealth365) Alzheimer’s disease, which currently affects over 5.5 million Americans, is the leading cause of dementia among older individuals in the United States. Despite the best efforts of Western medicine, very little progress has been made against this cruel disease in the century since its identification. But, there is hope in many natural (and effective) strategies to prevent dementia – including the use of nicotinamide riboside.
Research conducted by top neuroscientists highlights the potential of nicotinamide riboside, a form of vitamin B-3, to combat Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia at a cellular level. These dramatic research results should NOT be ignored by anyone concerned about brain health.
IMPORTANT brain health news: Nicotinamide riboside boosts levels of the vital coenzyme NAD+
Nicotinamide riboside, or NR, is a patented formulation of vitamin B3. Also known as niacin, vitamin B3 is vital for the production and management of cellular energy. It is also responsible for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.
Nicotinamide riboside is a precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD+ – meaning that NR is converted to NAD+ in the body. Researchers have found that oral supplementation with NR can help to effectively raise levels of indispensable NAD+.
Among other benefits, NAD+ helps to maintain the health of mitochondria (the “powerhouses” of cells), facilitates repair of cell DNA, protects against the death of brain cells and activates anti-aging proteins known as sirtuins.
In fact, preliminary research shows that NAD+ – along with its precursor, nicotinamide riboside – may have the potential to prolong life.
Unfortunately, levels of NAD+ decline with age. This depletion not only causes brain cells to lose a very important DNA repair mechanism, but it seems to “open the door” for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Animal studies support NR’s exciting potential to treat Alzheimer’s disease
In a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, neuroscientists from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine collaborated with researchers at the National Institute on Aging to conduct a study on the effects of NR on a “mouse model” of Alzheimer’s disease.
The groundbreaking study involved mice that had been genetically modified to develop high levels of the toxic pTau protein implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. (The buildup of pTau causes harmful “tangles” of cell fragments that, in turn, cause the death of brain cells – along with problems in nerve cell synaptic connections and cognitive impairment).
After the mice were given nicotinamide riboside in their drinking water daily for three months, the team found that the NR helped to restore NAD+ levels in the animals’ brains – and dramatically improved their performance on learning and memory tests, as compared to unsupplemented mice in the study.
Where the control group of unsupplemented “Alzheimer’s” mice continued to display memory deficits, learning problems, difficulty with gait and poor grip strength (the same difficulties that plague humans affected by Alzheimer’s disease) the supplemented mice quickly regained their normal physical and cognitive abilities, and successfully negotiated mazes with the same ease as healthy, normal mice.
(Bonus: NR supplementation also decreased anxious behavior of the type often seen in Alzheimer’s patients).
The researchers noted that boosting NAD+ – with the help of NR – helped to restore neuronal plasticity, which is vital to learning and recall.
The takeaway: Boosting cellular energy capabilities and protecting DNA repair mechanisms through oral supplementation with NR helped to restore learning, memory and cognitive function in mice engineered to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Although much more study is needed, researchers could not help but be encouraged by the promising results.
NAD+ uses multiple mechanisms to restore brain function on a cellular level
Unlike pharmaceutical drugs for Alzheimer’s disease, NAD+ has many different modes of action.
In addition to reducing brain cell DNA damage and facilitating DNA repair, NAD+ inhibits premature cell death by activating a pair of anti-aging proteins, SIRT 1 and SIRT 3.
Further, NAD+ promotes the formation of new brain cells – along with preserving the health and longevity of cell mitochondria.
NAD+ also decreases inflammatory brain changes that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease – and which may even exacerbate it.
Perhaps most significantly of all, NR and NAD+ reduce the formation and build-up of toxic, debilitating pTau proteins in the brain. Additional research has supported the neuroprotective effects of both nicotinamide riboside and NAD+.
In research newly published in FASEB J, the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, researchers found that nicotinamide riboside was even more effective than NAD+ in protecting against excitotoxicity. Excitotoxity, in which nerve cells in the brain become overstimulated, can set the stage for neurodegenerative disease.
The research team concluded that “interventions that bolster neuronal NAD+ levels therefore have therapeutic potential for Alzheimer’s disease” – a firm endorsement of NR’s potential.
How much nicotinamide riboside should I take for brain health and neuroprotection?
In addition to protecting against Alzheimer’s disease, NR is also believed to promote the renewal of youthful vigor, and to improve stamina and athletic performance.
NR is available commercially as a supplement, and is sometimes offered in conjunction with pterostilbene, a natural antioxidant polyphenol found in blueberries and grapes.
Although no serious adverse effects have been reported from nicotinamide riboside, few human NR trials have been conducted. Manufacturers typically recommend the supplement in dosages ranging from around 125 mg to 500 mg per day.
(Note: interestingly, NR does not seem to cause the uncomfortable “flushing” effect seen with other forms of vitamin B-3.)
As always, consult a knowledgeable integrative doctor to see if nicotinamide riboside supplementation is right for you.
With the “graying” of the American population, the total number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to hit a staggering 16 million by the year 2050. Nicotinamide riboside has shown the ability to slow the development of the disease in animals.
Hopefully, human studies will bear out the exciting potential of NR against this catastrophic neurodegenerative disease.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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