Most people are aware of the positive effects of the B-complex group of vitamins. Vitamin niacinamide particularly, is well known in the medical community. The beneficial effects of vitamin B3 (niacinamide) on skin and metabolism and prevention of dementia are well established. However, the effects of this vitamin (niacinamide) in the prevention of autoimmune diseases is now being increasingly scrutinized and studied.
Research now shows that vitamin niacinamide is important in countering such diseases as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. How does this happen? Niacinamide helps in cell metabolism by its effects on the mitochondria of cells, notably brain cells or neurons. This is done by vitamin B3 helping in the synthesis and utilization of a substance called ATP or adenosine tri-phosphate. ATP is so important to the cell that it is called the energy currency of the cell and is the means by which energy is transported or exchanged inside the cell. When ATP is processed by the cell, it is converted back to the precursors from which it is made. Vitamin B3 is useful in the synthesis of a compound called NAD (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), which in turn is important in the manufacture of ATP- the energy currency of the cell. Thus the importance of vitamin B3 should not be underestimated. This process is especially important in the brain tissue and its health. In 2006 Kaneko reported that Vitamin B3 was useful in the treatment of Multiple sclerosis. In this study he subjected animals to high doses of the vitamin and studied its effects on the brain. The animal model is however, yet to be replicated sufficiently with humans in clinical trials. In animal trials using vitamin B3 in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, doses as high as 0.5 mg/kg. were used. However, doses as high as this can have potential damage on the liver and hepatobiliary system. Hence, human use of this vitamin in multiple sclerosis can be risky and high doses must be administered by a physician. The hepatic function must be carefully monitored to look for changes in vital enzymes notably SGOT and SGPT, as well as serum bilirubin.
The other less known uses of vitamin B3 or niacinamide include treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus and dyslipidemia or altered blood lipids. The use of vitamin B3 in the treatment of the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis was first described more than 50 years ago. Research proved that vitamin B3 has a beneficial effect in improving joint mobility and joint swelling seen in rheumatoid arthritis. It was also found to be useful in osteoarthritis (another form of arthritis which occurs in weight bearing joints such as the knee and the hips). A more important discovery was the benefits vitamin niacinamide had in reducing blood cholesterol and increasing the levels of HDL or high density lipoproteins. HDL is also called good cholesterol and helps counter the effects of the LDL or bad cholesterol. Studies also suggest the use of this vitamin in the treatment of type-1 diabetes.
For more information see Vitamin Niacinamide