12 January - 20 June 2016

Dietary supplement shows evidence of reversing cardiovascular ageing

A study published in Nature Communications has shown that taking the dietary supplement, nicotinamide riboside (NR) has a similar effect as chronic calorie restriction on heart function.

A study published in Nature Communications has shown that taking the dietary supplement, nicotinamide riboside (NR) has a similar effect as chronic calorie restriction on heart function. Particularly, the authors report that NR, like chronic calorie restriction, supports arterial health, reduces aortic stiffness and reduces blood pressure. This is due to the rise of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) compounds that the supplement triggers. NAD+ activates sirtuin enzymes, which typically decline with age, and are key for the metabolic action of the heart. Cardiac function is improved via cell rejuvenation, which normalises blood pressure in turn. In an evolutionary response, previous studies have found that NAD+ is conserved in the ageing body when it is subjected to calorie restriction. In this way, the supplement increasing NAD+, mimics how the levels are conserved in a fasting body.

In this first-time study using humans, Martens et al. recruited a cohort of 24 healthy men and woman aged 55-79 years. Thirteen of the participants had elevated blood pressure (120–139/80-89 mmHg). Half were given a placebo for 6 weeks, followed by a daily 1000mg supplement of NR (500 mg twice-daily). The other half underwent the reverse, taking the supplement for 6 weeks, followed by a placebo. 

Blood samples were taken to measure the effects. Results showed that taking a NR supplement increased NAD+ levels by an average of 60%. Further to this, of the 13 participants with elevated blood pressure, their systolic blood pressure was reduced by an average of 10 mmHg. The researchers report this would medically indicate a 25% reduction in the risk of heart attack based on previous studies into the correlation between blood pressure and cardiovascular events.

NR is a B3 vitamin, naturally occurring in foods such as dairy milk, yeast and beer. Although NAD+ can be biologically synthesised from dietary sources, it is not able to be metabolised in all types of bodily tissue and so oral supplementation is preferred. No participants reported any adverse effects of taking NR supplements. Interestingly, the 2 participants who withdrew from the study due to side effects were taking placebo tablets. Monitoring of the renal function and liver enzymes showed they were unaffected by any of the treatment.

This study is restricted by having a small cohort and being specific to one age group. However, the results are an interesting platform for people whose blood pressure is not high enough to need medication but are at risk of heart attack. As consumption of NR looks to restore the NAD+ compound lost with age, in the way calorie restriction does, ultimately the study can provide an alternative for fasting and/or dietary changes. Martens et al. are seeking a grant to conduct a larger clinical trial to study the impact of NR supplementation on blood pressure and arterial health.  The researchers stressed that the amount consumed in the study is more than the present label-recommended dose.

RSSL provides vitamin analysis in a wide range of matrices including drinks, fortified foods, pre-mixes and multi-vitamin tablets.  It provides a full vitamin and mineral analysis service to assist with labelling, due diligence, claim substantiation and stability. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

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