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Sputnik   According to a new study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, taking vitamin B3, also known as niacin, may prevent miscarriages and birth defects.

Researchers analyzed the DNA of four families who either suffered multiple miscarriages or had children with birth defects, including cleft palates and heart or kidney abnormalities. The scientists determined that the common link was the genetic mutation of two genes that caused the children to have abnormal levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). This important enzyme, which plays a key role in metabolism, cell signaling and organ development and it appeared to prevent children from synthesizing and transporting NAD throughout their bodies.

NAD can be produced multiple ways, but one way is through the breakdown of tryptophan, an amino acid that people obtain from their diets. If an NAD deficiency causes defects, someone with low NAD levels could potentially take vitamin B3 to prevent defects and/or miscarriages.

“We never had such striking evidence before — that having high enough levels of NAD is important for preventing fetal malformations,” said Kathryn Gray, a physician in the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Division at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who was not affiliated with this study. Additional research is forthcoming.

 

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