An OTC Supplement Might Aid Walking in Folks With Leg Artery Illness

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Key Takeaways

  • Peripheral artery disease affects millions, limiting their ability to walk

  • A small, new study suggests that a supplement called nicotinamide riboside might help

  • The drug ups energy production by cells, and that may have improved walking endurance in people with PAD, a trial found

FRIDAY, June 21, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- A form of vitamin B3 that folks can buy over the counter could help improve walking ability when peripheral artery disease (PAD) strikes, new research suggests.

PAD affects up to 8.5 million Americans. It occurs when blood flow to the legs becomes impaired, making activities such as walking painful. PAD is closely tied to heart risk factors like diabetes and smoking.

Anything that can ease the condition and improve walking endurance is needed. The new study focused on nicotinamide riboside, a form of vitamin B3. Nicotinamide riboside is often touted as an anti-aging agent and is sold as a nonprescription supplement.

In the new trial, a team led by Christiaan Leeuwenburgh of the University of Florida (UF) recruited 90 people with an average age of 71 who had peripheral artery disease.

Leeuwenburgh, along with Dr. Mary McDermott, a physician and professor of medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, knew that nicotinamide riboside is a precursor compound to NAD, which helps boosts energy generation within cells.

Perhaps taking nicotinamide riboside could help people with PAD boost energy production, and help them walk better, the team reasoned.

The new findings seem to support that: People who took nicotinamide riboside supplements for six months were able to walk 23 feet more during a six-minute walking test, compared to those who hadn't taken the supplement, who actually walked 34 feet less after the 6-month trial period ended.

Adherence to the supplements was key: Folks who took at least 75% of the pills they were supposed to take performed even better, adding more than 100 feet to their walking distance, compared to people who took a placebo, the researchers reported.

The study was published June 13 in the journal Nature Communications.

“This is a signal that nicotinamide riboside could help these patients,” Leeuwenburgh, a professor of physiology and aging at UF, said in a university news release. “We are hoping to conduct a larger follow-up trial to verify our findings.”

More information

Find out more about PAD at the American Heart Association.

SOURCE: University of Florida, news release, June 18, 2024

What This Means For You

A cheap OTC supplement might help you walk better if you suffer from peripheral artery disease.

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