A clinical trial led by US-based Northwestern Medicine showed that vitamin B3 supplements could extend the walking distance for individuals suffering from peripheral artery disease (PAD).

In the study, researchers evaluated the efficacy of nicotinamide riboside, a type of vitamin B3, in individuals with PAD. The study was supported by the American Heart Association.

Nicotinamide riboside serves as a precursor to NAD+, a crucial coenzyme necessary for energy production and regular cellular metabolism.

In the clinical trial, 90 individuals diagnosed with PAD initially underwent baseline testing by walking as far as possible within six minutes.

Following six months of either nicotinamide riboside alone, nicotinamide riboside combined with resveratrol, or a placebo regimen, participants underwent a second timed walk.

According to the study findings, those who received nicotinamide riboside alone showed an average increase of 17m in their six-minute walking distance compared to those on placebo.

Study corresponding author and Northwestern Medicine epidemiology division’s preventive medicine professor Mary McDermott said: “People with lower extremity peripheral artery disease have mitochondrial activity impairment and other metabolic problems that are likely to be improved by increasing NAD+.

“Nicotinamide riboside is available over the counter. However, despite animal data showing benefits of vitamin B3 on mitochondrial activity and skeletal muscle health and function, nicotinamide riboside had not been previously shown to improve walking performance in humans, to our knowledge.”

McDermott noted that the outcomes observed with nicotinamide riboside supplementation are similar to those achieved with other interventions, including supervised exercise training.

Going ahead, McDermott and her research team plan to undertake a broader, multi-centre clinical trial to confirm and validate these findings.

McDermott said: “We are encouraged by the positive findings. In healthier human populations, NR did not show beneficial effect on six-minute walk. 

“It may be that because patients with PAD have severe pathologic changes in their skeletal muscles, damaged mitochondria, increased oxidative stress, and skeletal muscle damage, they are more susceptible to benefits of nicotinamide riboside.”