While many use the terms ‘Alzheimer’s disease’ and ‘dementia’ interchangeably, technically Alzheimer’s is one form of dementia and is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Over 5 million Americans live with this disease, and one-third of seniors die with some form of dementia. The cost of treating Alzheimer’s is enormous. While the documented cost to the nation of treating Alzheimer’s in 2013 was over $203 billion, the unaccounted cost borne by family members was estimated to be over $216 billion in 2012.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association March 2013 Factsheet, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s every 68 seconds. Twice as many 70 year olds with Alzheimer’s die before they are 80, compared to 70 year olds who do not have Alzheimer’s. There is no way to prevent, cure or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, though the quest for treating Alzheimer’s has spawned a sprawling, world-wide industry, supporting conferences, chains of nursing homes, expensive new drugs, on top of the ongoing costs of the physical care of patients.
Niacinamide for Alzheimer’s
Niacinamide has been used safely for at least 60 years, primarily to treat arthritis but also as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. Psychiatrist and clinical researcher William Kaufman published the first documented account of the use of niacinamide in the treatment of Alzheimer’s in his 1943 publication, The Common Form of Niacin Amide Deficiency Disease: Aniacinamidosis. In his book, he reported that patients who were deficient in niacinamide had the following symptoms: impaired memory, inability to concentrate, difficulty in comprehending and reading, anxiety, uncooperativeness, inability to complete projects or tasks, quarrelsome and dissatisfied. These symptoms, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, “disappeared… or improved considerably” on treatment with niacinamide.
Subsequent publications by Kaufman focused on the use of niacinamide in the treatment of degenerative arthritis. Kaufman came to the conclusion that niacinamide was not to be seen as a cure but as a permanent supplement, as stopping the dosage brought about the resurgence of the symptoms.
Niacinamide Research On Mice
A 2008 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience with demented mice showed that treatment with niacinamide reversed Alzheimer’s by causing a 60% reduction in one of the Alzheimer markers and increasing the number of microtubules that carry information inside the brain cells (1).
A 2012 study on lab mice reported that niacinamide restored cognitive functioning and synaptic plasticity (2).
A 2013 study concluded that niacinamide prevented cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s mice through improved neuronal activity and reduced breakdown of brain tissue (3).
Jonathon V. Wright, M.D. reviewed 2008 studies on laboratory mice and concluded that there was no reason to wait for ‘more research’ before administering niacinamide to Alzheimer’s patients (4).
Niacinamide Research On Humans
The University of California, Irvine, (conductor of one of the above-mentioned mice studies) is working with the Alzheimer’s Association to study the side effects of treating Alzheimer’s with niacinamide. This study is scheduled to be completed in June 2014 (5).
Niacinamide For Alzheimer’s Dosage
Modern-day studies have been based on Kaufman’s findings on dosage. Kauffman argued for the effectiveness of having the dose spread out, as opposed to being administered at one go (6,7).
UK-based physician Dr. Sarah Myhill prescribes niacinamide for a number of problems and reports that though she has never had a patient develop liver problems at high doses (over 500 mg. daily), she agrees with Kaufman that the best results are achieved by taking low doses regularly spaced throughout the day (8).
Bottom Line on the Best Way to Take Niacinamide
If possible, taking 250 mg. every 90 minutes, 12 times a day seems to be the best method. Sustained release (time release) niacinamide capsules are available on the internet and seem to be a reasonable compromise, though it is important to be aware that these doses are substantially above the Recommended Daily Allowances.
Niacinamide has been used safely for at least 60 years, primarily to treat arthritis, but also as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. Studies on mice concluded that niacinamide improved cognition. A human study has not yet been completed. Anyone over 60 with a family history of Alzheimer’s and who fears getting the disease might want to consider taking niacinamide as a precaution. For those already suffering from Alzheimer’s, niacinamide offers hope.
(1) Green KN, Steffan JS, Martinez-Coria H, et al. “Nicotinamide restores cognition in Alzheimer’s disease transgenic mice via a mechanism involving sirtuin inhibition and selective reduction of Thr231-phosphotau.” J Neurosci 2008; 28(45): 11,500-11,510
(2) Neurobiol Aging. 2013 Jun;34(6):1581-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2012.12.005. Epub Jan 9, 2013
(3) Neurobiol Aging. 2013 Jun;34(6):1564-80. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2012.11.020. Epub 2012 Dec 25
(6) William Kaufman, Ph.D. M.D. The Common Form of Niacin Amide Deficiency Disease: Aniacinamidosis
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- “Vitamin pill that may slow Alzheimer’s goes on trial,” The Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk), 11/5/08
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About The Author
Mary Post has been researching and writing on health, financial and technical subjects for over thirty years. Health problems suffered by family and friends led to extensive research on health issues, hunting for better answers to their problems. Mary and her husband live near Tampa, Florida.