The vitamin niacin may boost longevity — at least in roundworms, according to new research by an international team of scientists.
The study — led by Michael Ristow, a metabolism specialist with the technical university ETH-Zurich — found that niacin (also known as Vitamin B3) and its metabolite nicotinamide prolonged the lives of worms that were fed the nutrients in laboratory studies.
Ristow suggested the results of the study may have significant implications for humans, too.
He noted the metabolic pathway initiated by niacin is very similar in roundworms and humans. Previous studies have also suggested a beneficial effect of niacin in humans with elevated blood cholesterol levels.
Ristow now plans to test whether niacin has similar effects on the life expectancy of mice.
Niacin and nicotinamide have been used as dietary supplements for decades and Ristow suggests they could be used more widely for therapeutic purposes in the future.
Many healthy foods naturally contain niacin, including meat, liver, fish, peanuts, mushrooms, rice, and wheat bran.
In earlier studies on humans, Ristow demonstrated that niacin may induce a metabolic condition similar to exercise.
"Niacin tricks the body into believing that it is exercising — even when this is not the case," he said.
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