In a breakthrough German-led study published in the journal, Cell Reports, they discovered that the death of nerve cells that occurs in Parkinson’s Disease could be stopped with Vitamin B3. This opens up a lot of possibilities when it comes to treating brain-wasting diseases.
Taking a closer look, nicotinamide riboside is the specific form of Vitamin B3 that is deemed to “stimulate the faulty energy metabolism in the affected nerve cells thereby protecting them from dying off.” In short, this form of Vitamin B3 can possibly preserve nerve cells by boosting their cell’s energy-producing centers, the mitochondria.
The Mitochondria and Parkinson’s Disease
Essentially, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, gradual and irreversible neurodegenerative disease. What this means is that this disease results from the death of brain cells, connected with the production of dopamine which is accountable for controlling movement. Consequently, Parkinson’s affects a person’s balance, coordination, and walking. Sometimes other symptoms are also felt like depression, fatigue, memory problems, and sleep disruption.
In the US alone, there are 600,000 new diagnoses of Parkinson’s every year aside from the 1 million who already have it. Scientists believe that the disease is a product of environmental and genetic factors that work together.
Mitochondria is known as the powerhouse of the cell where it has the capability to convert food into usable energy by the cell. Since nerve cells constantly need energy, they are much more dependent on the mitochondria. A damaged mitochondrion is a common feature for brain tissue deaths, and related diseases include Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Cause or Side Effect?
All these discoveries lead to the question, which comes first the chicken or the egg? Are faulty mitochondria the cause of the disease or the side effect? Dr. Deledi and his crew studied the effect of Vitamin B-3 on mitochondria and nerve cells.
The Outcome of Study on Vitamin B3
By far, the studies were only limited within the four walls of a laboratory, but the results have been optimistic. By feeding the cells with nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), the levels rise within the cells rise. As a result, it created new mitochondria within the cell and thereby increasing the cell’s energy production.
This study was then replicated using flies. In the flies that received the Vitamin B3 supplement, the flies showed substantially fewer dead nerve cells and they had longer retention of mobility in contrast to the flies that did not have B3 supplementation.
The next step in the study is to test the effects of vitamin B3 supplements on individuals with Parkinson’s. As Dr. Deledi has pointed out, “Administering nicotinamide riboside may be a new starting point for treatment and there is already evidence from other studies that show that vitamins do not have side effects when ingested.”
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