Memory and cognitive function often decline with age. The current limitations on activities and stimulation during lockdown may well lead us to feel more scatterbrained and foggier-headed than normal. It can be particularly difficult to tell what is memory loss and what is simply circumstantial forgetfulness. Cognitive decline is a fear often associated with ageing, and is linked to a number of environmental, lifestyle and genetic factors. Though some research into this newly discovered vitamin suggests that we may be able to do more to protect our brains than we realised.
Nicotinamide riboside is thought to improve muscle health, longevity, energy levels and age-related memory loss and cognitive decline. It is found in small doses in some foods such as beef liver and dairy products, though it is most easily accessible through supplements.
Nicotinamide riboside, also known as NR, is a recently discovered form of vitamin B3. As many of the studies on the vitamin and its effects have been done on animals, not humans, further research is needed before these links can be confirmed and defined.
Your body can convert NR into nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), a molecule that promotes healthy ageing but declines in the body with age. Dr. Wally Taylor, a physician at Texas Integrative Medicine, says NAD+ is an essential molecule in the process of making energy in the mitochondria. He explained that NR is the natural precursor of NAD+, so our bodies can quite easily convert NAD+ into NR. Research has shown that NR is highly effective at managing and promoting healthy NAD+ levels in the body.
One study found that after three months of being given NR, a group of mice showed lower levels of neuron damage, more new neurons, better maintained DNA damage and better brain plasticity than mice that hadn’t. This group of mice also performed better on behaviour and memory recognition tests.
A human case study that examines the stem cells from a patient with a neurodegenerative condition concluded that NR helps to maintain brain health through its support of healthy NAD+ levels.
More research needs to be done into the effects of nicotinamide riboside on human subjects, although these promising results suggest that the vitamin has positive effects on the health of brain cells, memory and cognitive function.
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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.