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Can B3 slow aging?

Nicotinamide riboside, a form of vitamin B3, helped spur cell regeneration in mice in a new study.

Could a vitamin stop the aging process in our organs? Researchers who found "rejuvenating" results when nicotinamide riboside was given to elderly mice are optimistic.

An international team of scientists worked on the project at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Laboratory of Integrated Systems Physiology in Switzerland. They gave nicotinamide riboside, a form of B3, to two-year-old mice (a ripe old age for rodents). Nicotinamide riboside is a precursor of NAD+, a molecule that plays a key role in mitochondrial activity. Mitochondria, the "powerhouses" of cells, are critical in regenerating damaged organs, but their ability to do so becomes compromised with age and disease.

Nicotinamide riboside seemed to spur cell regeneration, according the results. "Our results are extremely promising: muscular regeneration is much better in mice that received NR, and they lived longer than the mice that didn't get it," Hongbo Zhang, a PhD student at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and author of a Science article about the research said in a EPFL release.

In parallel studies, researchers found a comparable effect on stem cells of the brain and skin. "This work could have very important implications in the field of regenerative medicine," lead researcher Johan Auwerx said in the release. "We are not talking about introducing foreign substances into the body but rather restoring the body's ability to repair itself with a product that can be taken with food."

Recent research suggests that vitamin B3 may also be able to cut risk of skin cancer.

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