New research suggests that consuming vitamin B3 during pregnancy may prevent birth defects and miscarriages.
Studying pregnant mice, researchers at the Victor Chang Institute in Sydney, Australia found that certain genetic errors or mutations that limited the production of a vital molecule necessary for healthy fetal development could be corrected if the mother took niacin, otherwise known as vitamin B3.
“They found mutations in two genes that caused the child to be deficient in a vital molecule known as Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which allows cells to generate energy and organs to develop normally,” reports BBC.
According to lead researcher Professor Sally Dunwoodie, correcting the NAD deficiency with vitamin B3 is a simple solution that could make a big difference.
"You can boost your levels of NAD and completely prevent the miscarriages and birth defects. It bypasses the genetic problem," stated Dunwoodie. "It's rare that you find a cause and a prevention in the same study. And the prevention is so simple, it's a vitamin.”
Experts, however, are cautioning the general public to take the study with a grain of salt.
“While exciting, this discovery cannot be translated into recommendations for pregnant women, who at most may be deficient in vitamin B3,” Dr. Katie Morris, a medical expert at the University of Birmingham told BBC. "The doses used in this research were 10 times the recommended daily doses for supplementation in women."
Morris added the side effects of taking too much vitamin B3 are not yet known.
Dunwoodie herself admits that the while the study is definitely a breakthrough, more research needs to be done to determine why some women fail to produce NAD in sufficient quantities.