By Cort Johnson, Health Rising, April 2022.
Some people intermittently experienced significant periods of mental clarity and energy improvement while using niacin, which may or not be associated with the flushing that some forms of niacin produce.
Niacin (Vit B3) in its various forms produces Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) in the body – a key compound in numerous processes including energy production. NAD exists in various forms depending on whether it’s been oxidized or reduced. Its ability to easily pick up and discard electrons has made it a central player in mitochondria energy generation.
A small Finnish study found low NAD+ levels in patients with mitochondrial myopathy – a disease that shares several features with ME/CFS/FM. Several case studies described FM and ME/CFS patients with mitochondrial myopathy benefitting from mitochondrial therapy involving niacin and/or other supplements.
Increases in blood and muscle NAD+, muscle strength, muscle mass, and amino acids, and reductions in unhealthy fatty deposits and lactate during exercise were seen.
Other studies suggest niacin helps with endothelial functioning, i.e. increase blood flow through the small capillaries providing nutrients and removing toxins from tissues.
“Niacin” comes in four forms: Niacin (can produce a hot flushing sensation that usually declines over time and may be the most helpful blood vessel enhancer).
Niacinamide is more efficiently metabolized into NAD and does not produce flushing.
Nicotinamide ribose may be the most effective mitochondrial enhancer but is more expensive. Lastly, Nicotinamide mononucleotide which has been most associated with longevity research.
Still, other studies indicate that NAD+ declines occur as we age and NAD+ precursors such as niacin may be helpful in reversing some of the aging processes.
Niacin appears to be mostly safe but at higher levels and over longer terms may cause side effects and liver tests should be done.
However, its ability to affect the mitochondria and open the blood vessels, and possibly affect longevity, niacin presents an intriguing possibility for those trying to enhance the activity of their mitochondria.