Tiny vitamin in milk found to have remarkable health benefits

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Researchers have discovered a small,  hidden vitamin in milk that has remarkable health benefits. The finding comes from mouse studies. Scientists discovered that high doses of a novel form of vitamin B3 that is present in small quantities in milk, and possibly other foods, makes mice stronger, faster and leaner without dieting and without exercise.

Hidden milk vitamin could prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes

Though the researchers aren’t sure about the human effects of the form of vitamin B3 -nicotinamide riboside or NR - which is a cousin to a precursor of the B vitamin Niacin, they now understand there are some potential benefits for preventing obesity and even type 2 diabetes.

In the mouse study, nicotinamide riboside offered the same benefits for health as eating a low-calorie diet and exercise, but the mice didn’t have to do either.

Dr. Anthony Sauve, associate professor of Pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical College where the study was conducted explained in a press release:

“The bottom line is that NR improves the function of mitochondria, the cell's energy factories. Mitochondrial decline is the hallmark of many diseases associated with aging, such as cancer and neurodegeneration, and NR supplementation boosts mitochondrial functioning."

In 2007, Suave who is a pharmacologist and organic chemist found that NR increases nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) levels in mammalian cells, which regulates energy metabolism. NAD converts sugars, proteins and fats into energy. Stanford researcher and 1959 Nobel Laureate, Arthur Kornberg studied NR 60 years ago.

The scientists say the effect of the ‘hidden’ vitamin are ‘nothing short of astonishing’ and the researchers believe it’s present in many other foods, but difficult to detect.

Suave called the evidence ‘encouraging”, but says there is ‘much more work to do”. He has developed a synthetic form of NAD for further study and the Cornell Lab. If  human studies show the milk vitamin is safe at high doses, it could mean new treatment for obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders.

The potential of the tiny ‘hidden vitamin’ found in milk might someday be used to help humans. Mice in the study were given high doses of nicotinamide riboside and lost 60% more weight than a control group, even though they were fed the same high-fat diets. They also had more energy, lower cholesterol levels and increased insulin sensitivity.

June 14, 2012