An international team of researchers found that administering the vitamin nicotinamide riboside restores organs’ regenerative capacities and delays aging. The study published on April 28 in the journal Science explains that this restorative vitamin, which is close to vitamin B3, targets stem cells, paving the way for treatments targeting degenerative diseases like muscular dystrophy or myopathy.

Stem cells produce new specific cells to regenerate damaged organs. The stem cells can only do this if their mitochondria functions properly.  The researchers call the mitochondria as the powerhouse of the cell.

However, as people age, stem cells get fatigued, causing aging, poor cell regeneration, and even deterioration of some tissues and organs. So, the research team thought of targeting the cells through their mitochondria to improve the stem cell condition.

nicotinamide riboside

The effects of Nicotinamide riboside (NR) can only be described as restorative. Credit: stevepb

Since nicotinamide riboside is a precursor of NAD+, a molecule that regulates mitochondrial activity, the researchers administered it onto mice in the hopes of improving mitochondrial function. When they administered the vitamin to mice aged two years old, they observed that the animals’ muscular regeneration greatly improved. The mice also lived longer than those that did not receive the vitamin.

Researchers may have found the elixir of youth. Earlier studies have already shown that nicotinamide riboside improves one’s metabolism.

“This work could have very important implications in the field of regenerative medicine,” says Johan Auwerx, the head of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne’s Laboratory of Integrated Systems Physiology (LISP) in Switzerland. “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.”

The researchers say that this could help age-related diseases, even the fatal ones such as myopathy. Myopathy is a muscle disease that causes muscle weakness, pain and muscle wasting.

The researchers did not observe any side effects even after giving nicotinamide riboside at high doses. Still, the researchers assert that more studies are still needed to gather more insight about this vitamin and consequences on aging.