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Trace vitamin in beer, milk, prolongs life, new study shows





If you are looking for a reason  to indulge in a quick pint, this  could be it. Researchers say a  hidden form of vitamin B3 called  nicotinamide riboside (NR),  found in beer and milk can stop  the aging process, lengthen lifes-pan and improve muscle strength. 
 The ‘miracle molecule’, has no  side effects and could also fight  obesity, they say. Scientists at the Ecole Poly-technique Federale de Lausanne  (EPFL) gave 700-day-old mice Nic-otinamide riboside (NR), which  proved to have a positive effect on  the functioning of stem cells. The  mice that received the substance  lived longer than the mice that  didn’t receive it, and no negative  side effects were observed in the  mice given NR, even at high doses.
 The researchers believe an in-crease in the molecule reflects an  improvement in mitochondrial  function, the part of the cell that  supplies energy. Mitochondria  are thought to play a part in the  aging process. “But NR is difficult to repro-duce and extremely small. At the  moment, we can’t even measure  its concentration in milk, so it’s  impossible to know how much  you would have to drink to be able  to observe its effects,” Mr Johan  Auwerx who led the team said. Auwerx, says the study is a  breakthrough for regenerative  medicine and could have pro-found implications for treating  diseases like muscular dystrophy.
According to the scientists’ data,  the muscular power of mice tak-ing NR did improve. “This work could have very im-portant implications in the field  of regenerative medicine,” Auw-erx says. “We are not talking about in-troducing foreign substances into  the body, but rather restoring the  body’s ability to repair itself with  a product that can be taken with  food”, he explained.
 The EPFL researchers said  caution should be observed when  it comes to branding NR an elixir  of youth, as further studies are  required. One avenue of study  would be to make sure the vita-min does not also boost the func-tioning of pathological cells, such  as those found in cancerous tis-sue. Also, the researchers found NR  helps in preventing obesity. Working with Weill Cornell  Medical College in New York, the  researchers found mice on a high-fat diet that were fed NR gained  significantly less weight – 60 per  cent – than mice eating the same  diet without NR supplements. And none of the NR-treated  mice had indications that they  were developing diabetes, unlike  the untreated mice. Mice which  were fed NR supplements over a  ten-week period had better perfor-mance than those who were not. 
They were also in better shape  and this was confirmed by obser-vations of their muscle fibres un-der the microscope. NR works by becoming trapped  in cells where it boosts the metabolism, much like resveratrol,  which is found in wine.  ‘It really appears that cells use  what they need when they need it,  and the rest is set aside without  being transformed into any kind  of deleterious form,’ said second  study author Carles Canto in a  statement. Mice who had been fed the  molecule also performed better in  endurance tests, as well as in tests  measuring heat loss. Meanwhile, evidence is emerg-ing that some widely used dia-betic drug Metformin can prolong  lifespan. 
The research, published  in the Journal Diabetes, Obesity  and Metabolism, involved 180,000  people and was conducted by scientists at the Cardiff University. Metformin is already known to  lower cancer risk. 
 The research-ers in the current study wanted to  know if the drug can help lower  the risk of early death in diabet-ics. People with type-2 diabetes  can’t use the hormone insulin  to control blood sugar levels.  Metformin is either used alone  or with other medication to  regulate glucose levels in these  people. Previous research has  shown that the drug increases  lifespan in mice models. For the present study, the  researchers compared the life  expectancy in diabetes patients  treated with metformin with that of patients on another anti-diabetes drug – sulphonylurea. The team also compared life  expectancy of diabetics with  age and gender-matched non-diabetics.
 The data for the study came  from the UK Clinical Practice  Research Datalink, which repre-sented around 10 percent of the  UK population. The researchers  identified 78,241 patients who  were on metformin and 12,222  patients who were prescribed  sulphonylurea. “Patients treated with met-formin had a small but statisti-cally significant improvement  in survival compared with the  cohort of non-diabetics, where-as those treated with sulpho-nylureas had a consistently re-duced survival compared with  non-diabetic patients. This was  true even without any clever  statistical manipulation,” said  Craig Currie from Cardiff Uni-versity’s School of Medicine. 
 The researchers said that  metformin not only reduces  cancer and heart problem risk,  but can also lower pre-diabetics’  risk of developing diabetes. According to Currie, diabet-ics usually have to switch over  to more aggressive treatments  to control their condition. On  an average, a diabetes diagnosis  results in a loss of eight years  of life. The researchers recom-mend that people eat healthy  and stay active to minimize risk  of developing chronic health  conditions.

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