A team of Australian researchers recently found that taking #Vitamin B3 supplements could help prevent #miscarriages and #Birth Defects. According to the study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, experts from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney, Australia discovered the link between vitamin B3 and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) in healthy fetal development during pregnancy.

An estimated 7.9 million babies are born with a birth defect all over the world annually.

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One in four pregnancies, on the other hand, have the possibility of ending in a miscarriage. Almost 75 percent of all miscarriages happen in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and about 50 percent are due to chromosomal abnormalities.

The role of NAD

Based on the “double breakthrough” findings, which meant that the researchers have both discovered a cause and a preventive solution, they found that vitamin B3, or niacin, is vital in making the essential nutrient called NAD. This organic compound is needed for energy production, DNA repair, and cell communication. It is also responsible for keeping fetuses in the wombs healthy during pregnancy.

According to lead study author Professor Sally Dunwoodie, her team found that NAD deficiency can be solved by taking vitamin B3 supplements. Due to their discovery, miscarriages and birth defects can be prevented or avoided.

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However, the researchers stressed that they are still seeking a method to measure the NAD levels among pregnant women.

More studies needed

Despite the promising findings, some experts said that more human research and experiments are needed before the study can be translated into recommendations, particularly among pregnant women. According to Matthew Vander Heiden of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, researchers still need to learn more and determine how pregnancy affects the levels of NAD in general. Vander Heiden added that experts should also determine the healthy levels of this vital coenzyme.

A maternal fetal medicine expert at the University of Birmingham, Dr. Katie Morris, also echoed Vander Heiden’s sentiments, citing the doses the vitamin B3 used in the study were “10 times the recommended daily doses” for women’s supplementation. In addition, Morris stressed that the side-effects of the vitamin’s high dosage in pregnancy remain unknown.

Possible side effects

Even though more studies are needed to determine the side-effects of high dosage of vitamin B3 or niacin in pregnant women, Science magazine found that too much niacin can cause diarrhea, nausea, and dizziness.

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Low doses, on the other hand, don’t cause any known side effects, but niacin deficiency could lead to pellagra — a fatal disease characterized by dermatitis, poor concentration, diarrhea, dementia, anxiety, and depression. Other symptoms also include fatigue, headache and skin problems.

Niacin-rich foods and RDA values in women

Meanwhile, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for niacin in women is 14 mg per day, with a daily value of 20 mg. For pregnant women, the value needed is 18 mg per day while 17 mg per day is recommended for breastfeeding mothers. As for niacin-rich foods, these include turkey meat, chicken breast, peanuts, mushrooms, liver, tuna, green peas, grass-fed beef, sunflower seeds, whole wheat bread and avocado.