Niacin's Cousin Is A Diabetes Shield

Unlike its cousin niacin, high doses of niacinamide, or nicotinamide, have no appreciable effect on blood cholesterol, though they may deter the progression or even development of Type I diabetes (T1D). T1D is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce and release insulin—the beta cells. Nicotinamide has been on the radar as a possible T1D preventive because it appears to attenuate the destruction of beta cells by acting as an antioxidant and blunting the immune-mediated attack. Recent studies have suggested that elderly people with Type II diabetes are nicotinamide deficient and would benefit from supplementation.

However, sound research backing up these assumptions is lacking. For example, after 55 immediate family members of those with T1D took nicotinamide supplements for a couple of years, researchers found no significant risk reduction or delay in developing the disease. On the other hand, the much larger European Nicotinamide Diabetes Intervention Trial (ENDIT) has enrolled 552 subjects with a high risk of developing T1D and may offer a more definitive answer when results are released later this year. If you're considering taking high doses of nicotinamide (more than 3 grams per day), consult a health professional first.

Nutrition and exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, MS, has collaborated on more than 45 university-based studies, is co-founder of Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS), and is founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition.