Is Vitamin B3 (Niacin) the Anti-Aging Vitamin?

Everyone knows that adequate vitamin intake is required to lead a normal healthy life and numerous nutrition and diet blogs and websites attest to the necessity of vitamins. There is also much hype regarding the "B" vitamins in energy and vitality. The major B vitamins are B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin; more correctly nicotinic acid and nicotinamide), and B12 (cobalamin). Additional B vitamins include B5 (pantothenic acid) and B6 (includes pyridoxal, pyridoxamine, and pyridoxine). Folate is sometimes referred to as vitamin B9 and biotin is sometimes referred to as vitamin B7. All you need to know about the importance of the B vitamins and all the rest of the required vitamins can be found in my website:


A recent study carried out in mice involving long-term vitamin B3 supplementation demonstrates that this vitamin mitigates age-associated physiological decline in these animals.


When humans consume vitamin B3 (nicotinic acid or nicotinamide) it is ultimately converted into a critical enzyme co-factor (co-enzyme) called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). NAD (as either NAD+ or NADP+, where the P=phosphate) is absolutely required for hundreds of biochemical reactions. For example we need NAD+ in order to get energy from proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and we need NADP+ to make numerous important cell components including, but certainly not limited to, steroid hormones.

NAD+ (and NADP+) is synthesized from nicotinamide where the synthesis pathway generates an intermediate compound called nicotinamide mononucleotide (abbreviated NMN). NMN is converted to NAD+ via the action of three similar enzymes. Therefore, the consumption of NMN can lead to rapid increases in NAD+ synthesis. Indeed, prior studies in mice demonstrated that short-term NMN feeding improved insulin secretion in aged mice as well as increased the actions of insulin in aged-induced type 2 diabetic and obese mice. Several studies in mice have also demonstrated that consumption of NMN protected their hearts from the damage associated with age-related increases in free radicals (reactive oxygen species, ROS). In yeast and fruit flies, enhancing the synthesis of NAD+ is associated with extension of lifespan.

The results of this long-term study demonstrated that, in comparison to control non-NMN fed mice, daily intake of NMN resulted in a decrease in age-associated body weight gain, enhanced the generation of energy (ATP) from various metabolic reaction pathways, led to increased physical activity, improved tissue sensitivity to the actions of insulin, resulted in lower plasma lipid profiles, enhanced the activity of skeletal muscle mitochondria (organelles inside cells that make energy: ATP), reversed age-associated changes in gene expression, led to improved eye function, and enhanced bone density.

The TAKE HOME from this study is quite clear: consumption of foods or supplements that contain high levels of nicotinamide or NMN can prove to be quite beneficial in staving off the cellular effects of aging. Keep in mind that vitamin B3 is a water soluble vitamin and so megadosing doesn't contribute to improved or increased bioavailability as the excess that cannot be utilized will just be excreted. Better to ensure that you have an adequate daily intake and better yet to take a B vitamin supplement several times a day. Some of the best natural sources of NMN (which directly enhances NAD+ production) are vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, and edamame (immature soybeans). 

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