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Vitamin B3 and Glaucoma

Image result for eyes A recent study had great results in preventing glaucoma or stopping the progress of glaucoma by supplementing the diet of mice with vitamin B3 (nicotinamide). But now the research needs to see if this also holds true for humans.

Glaucoma is a common neurodegenerative disease that results in vision loss. Two main risk factors are increasing age and high intraocular pressure (pressure in the eye). The researchers said that their next step is testing B3 in human glaucoma patients. So stay tuned...

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is an essential vitamin for health, but both deficiencies and too high doses have negative health effects. It is recommended that adults get between 14 mg to 18 mg of niacin per day. Since it is not stored in the body (the excess will be excreted in urine), then you need to get a continuous supply from your diet.

As seen in so many other studies of vitamins and minerals, there is no evidence of adverse effects from the consumption of naturally occurring niacin in foods, but one can get too much from supplements (along with negative health effects).

What foods are good sources of B3 (niacin)? Foods highest in B3 (niacin) are tuna, chicken, turkey, but other good sources are anchovies, salmon, sardines, red meat, peanuts, nuts, seeds, eggs, mushrooms, dairy foods. lentils, beans, potatoes, and grain products.

From Medical Xpress: Vitamin B3 prevents glaucoma in laboratory mice

In mice genetically predisposed to glaucoma, vitamin B3 added to drinking water is effective at preventing the disease, a research team led by Jackson Laboratory Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Simon W.M. John reports in the journal Science.

The vitamin administration was surprisingly effective, eliminating the vast majority of age-related molecular changes and providing a remarkably robust protection against glaucoma. It offers promise for developing inexpensive and safe treatments for glaucoma patients.

Glaucoma is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases, affecting an estimated 80 million people worldwide. In most glaucoma patients, harmfully high pressure inside the eye or intraocular pressure leads to the progressive dysfunction and loss of retinal ganglion cells. Retinal ganglion cells are the neuronal cells that connect the eye to the brain via the optic nerve. Increasing age is a key risk factor for glaucoma, contributing to both harmful elevation of intraocular pressure and increased neuronal vulnerability to pressure-induced damage.

Conducting a variety of genomic, metabolic, neurobiological and other tests in mice susceptible to inherited glaucoma, compared to control mice, the researchers discovered that NAD, a molecule vital to energy metabolism in neurons and other cells, declines with age. The decrease in NAD levels reduces the reliability of neurons' energy metabolism, especially under stress such as increased intraocular pressure. 

In essence, the treatments of vitamin B3 (nicotinamide, an amide form of vitamin B3, also called niacinamide) boosted the metabolic reliability of aging retinal ganglion cells, keeping them healthier for longer. "Because these cells are still healthy, and still metabolically robust," says JAX Postdoctoral Associate Pete Williams, first author of the study, "even when high intraocular pressure turns on, they better resist damaging processes." 

The researchers also found that a single gene-therapy application of Nmnat1 (the gene for an enzyme that makes NAD from nicotinamide) prevented glaucoma from developing in this mouse model[Original study.}

5 thoughts on “Vitamin B3 and Glaucoma

  1. Kay

    What are your references to prove that a higher dose than 18mg may have deleterious effects (which?) in people at high risk of glaucoma?
    It is very possible that "side effects", if they exist, may be less of an issue than losing your eyesight.

    1. Sima

      I just specified what are current "recommended amounts" - not what are too high amounts causing side effects - check WebMD for more information.
      There are different forms of B3 available in supplements - including niacinamide (or nicotinamide - what the study used) or niacin. Many multivitamins contain 20 to 30 mg of vitamin B3 (niacinamide).
      According to an Australian optometry site discussing news of this research: "Professor Trounce said doses equivalent to about 40 grams per day for an average weight human were given and no toxic effects were seen. Nicotinamide supplements for human use generally range from one-half to two grams per day, he said.
      "The last thing we need is to be telling people to take massive doses of nicotinamide." "We need multicentre human trials to confirm findings in humans and ensure such high doses don’t have toxic effects. The distinction between the nicotinamide form and Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is important because taking large doses of niacin is known to cause discomforting skin rashes in many people. Nicotinamide does not have this problem.
      " [NOTE: the full article is worth reading]

      In other words - no one knows yet if this works as well for humans, and if it has the same beneficial effect, what is the correct daily dose? But people in the field are calling the findings amazing, and they are hopeful. Next step is to repeat this study in humans.

    2. Ralph DeWolf

      I would suggest that you have a look at the Orthomolecular medicine website and especially the books of Dr. Abram Hoffer MD who treated many patients successfully with high doses of niacine for mental diseases. According to his writings niacin is about as safe as drinking water. Andrew Saul (a former university professor and still alive and well) also has several books dealing with high doses of vitamins in the prevention and reversal of diseases although I have not seen specific mention of glaucoma.
      Your point is well taken that you can accept some side effects if it prevents blindness.
      Good luck.


    I believe I read somewhere that more is not better with nicotinamide. It assists energy by improving communication between cells alowing them to order what they need better but the down side was about how replication of imperfect cells might help cancer cells to live longer and replicate more as well. As usual , food with the precursor vitamin could not be too much. Maybe when the body converts to nicotinamide it also does other actions we don't presently consider that may be shut down if it is just "given" Like when a person takes insulin for early diabetis the body ceases it's struggle to produce it in other paths and leaves the person in danger of immediate death if the insulin is not just"given".

  3. Tina

    I take 500 mill of niacin in the am and pm, I will do anything to preserve my vision, my side effects are enjoyable. I get warmer and where I live it is always cold. No issue, Your body will flush at tolerance, I get a very mild flush and it does not bother me in the least. I recommend listening to Andrew Saul about the possibility of high dose vit c and b3 for various ailments. After all as he points out, people seem to have little issue if it is a pharmacy drug... and that for sure ALWAYS has negative side effects... Listen to him on Youtube.. with an open mind, of course we each need to do what is comfortable.


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