Vitamin B3 may help fight drug resistant bacteria

New research suggests megadoses of vitamin B3 may be able to help bodies fight some of the world’s deadliest bacteria or superbugs.

When given in doses far higher than found in any normal diet, scientists say the common nutritional supplement, vitamin B3, boosts the immune system by as much as 1,000 fold, and can kill a life-threatening infection called methicillin-resistant Staphyloccocus aureus.

U.S. public health officials report that more Americans now die from Staphyloccocus aureus each year than from AIDS. In 2005, more than 18,000 deaths were attributed to Staphyloccocus aureus. About 16,000 people in the United States died from AIDS that year.

George Liu, a pediatric infectious diseases physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, led a team investigating B3’s potential to kill the superbug in both mice and samples of human blood.

The researchers found very high doses of B3 stimulate a gene involved in the production of specialized immune cells called neutrophils. These cells destroy and sweep away harmful bacteria, boosting the immune system response to staph and Staphyloccocus aureus by anywhere from 100 percent to 1,000 percent.

Liu explained that megadoses of B3, known scientifically as nicotinamide, do not kill the pathogens directly.

“What it does is it hits the white cells in our body and makes them much more potent so they can come about and kill some of the staph. . . ,” he said.

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