Vitamin B-3 (niacin) may protect against the development of Alzheimer’s disease and the cognitive decline associated with aging, say researchers who studied almost 4,000 people aged 65 and older. Dietary questionnaires revealed that those with the lowest intake of niacin (an average of 12.6 mg/day) were 80% more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease than those with the highest intake (22.4 mg/day).
Further analysis showed that the rate of cognitive decline among those with the highest niacin intake was almost half (44%) that of those with the lowest intake.
Niacin has been prescribed to older people to prevent confusional states, and severe deficiency causes pellagra, a condition characterized by dementia, diarrhea and dermatitis, but its role in Alzheimer’s disease has not been thoroughly explored, say the authors. Previous research has indicated that niacin has an important role in DNA synthesis and repair, neural cell signalling, and acts as a potent antioxidant in brain cells, they say.
Source: British Medical Journal, July 14, 2004