On Saturday, I showed you how niacin is great for stroke prevention. I also mentioned that the eyes are connected to the brain. So it wouldn't be surprising to find out that taking niacin also can help your eyes. And new research is showing that taking niacin can help prevent glaucoma.
Glaucoma, as you may know, is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases. It affects about 80 million people worldwide. In most glaucoma patients, harmfully high pressure inside the eye leads to the progressive dysfunction and loss of retinal ganglion cells. Loss of eyesight is the end result. And it's often age-related. The older you get, the more likely you are to get it.
The researchers wanted to find out if niacin would lower the pressure and prevent glaucoma in mice. They specifically "wanted to identify key age-related susceptibility factors that change with age in the eye," the authors said. So they conducted a variety of "genomic, metabolic, neurobiological and other tests in mice susceptible to inherited glaucoma, compared to control mice." They found that NAD, a molecule vital to energy metabolism in neurons and other cells, declines with age.
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I've told you about NAD in the past. It's a key molecule in the health of your muscles. The decrease in NAD levels causes the reliability of the neurons' energy metabolism to decrease as well. And the extra pressure in the eye causes significant stress, which reduces the NAD levels even more.
When the researchers gave the mice treatments of vitamin B3, it boosted the metabolic reliability of these aging retinal ganglion cells. This, not surprisingly, kept them healthier for much longer. But that's not all. When the researchers gave the mice a single gene-therapy application of a particular niacin enzyme (Nmnat1) it completely prevented glaucoma from developing.
So if you're wanting to prevent stroke, heart problems, and even eye problems, take niacin daily. On Saturday, I'll tell you how much to take. And I'll tell you how to avoid the uncomfortable flush it causes.
One final note: With glaucoma, I would never rely on just one nutrient. Taking an eye formula, such as Advanced Vision Formula, is just as important as taking the niacin.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND