By: Ben Eastman
Could vitamin B3 help slow down, or possibly halt the development of type I diabetes? A recent study shows that when the vitamin is given at diagnosis it helps keep the remaining Beta-cells active.
Studies on the effects of nicotinamide, a vitamin of the B3 group, began when it was observed that it could help protect isolated islets in the laboratory. Later it was shown that high daily doses of nicotinamide could prevent, or at least delay, the development of type I diabetes in mice.
Following the first studies in the lab and on mice, researchers began to test its effects on human subjects. One of the first human studies showed that treating type I diabetes with nicotinamide at diagnosis improved HbA1c levels one year later. Improved HbA1c levels were maintained despite the fact that the test subjects were taking less insulin than the control subjects.
Several tests that followed showed nicotinamide preserved C-peptide secretion, the by product of working Beta-cells. Later, a joint study in Auckland, New Zealand, and Denver, Colo., showed nicotinamide could help prevent the development of type I in children by as much as 50 percent. However, the amounts of nicotinamide given varied widely among the previous tests given. In addition many of the studies suffered from a small number of test subjects which greatly limited the application of the findings.
Currently a large scale trial, the European Nicotinamide Diabetes Intervention Trial (ENDIT), is under way and should provide large enough subject populations for the findings to be scientifically valid.
The present study, published in the December issue of Diabetes Care, supported the positive effects of nicotinamide therapy in a scientifically sound test situation. Like previous studies, it showed that treating type Is with large daily doses of nicotinamide improved subjects C-peptide secretion. The study also found the vitamin helped keep the remaining Beta-cells working in people with type I diabetes for the first year after diagnosis.
Due to the vitamin’s positive effect on Beta-cell function, the researchers suggest further studies be undertaken to determine if the same results can be observed over longer periods of time.
The vitamin B3 used in this study is not the same strength or type that is available at your local health food store. As with any nutritional supplements, please check with your doctor before giving large doses of vitamin B3 to yourself or your children.