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Study: Hidden ingredient in milk protects against obesity

By Yukio Strachan     Jun 6, 2012 in Health
A natural ingredient found in milk helped to prevent weight gain even while on diets high in fat, which could add up to slimmer waistlines, researchers say.
"This is present in what we've all been eating since day one," says researcher Johan Auwerx of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne.
ScienceDaily says, researchers in Switzerland identified this ingredient, nicotinamide riboside (NR), as they were searching for alternative ways to boost the well-known gene SIRT1, which comes with benefits for helping people live longer.
"One way to do that is to target SIRT1 directly, as the red wine ingredient resveratrol appears to do, at least at some doses," Auwerx said in a statement, UPI news reports.
So Auwerx’s team worked with the laboratory of Anthony Sauve at Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City to study the effects of NR in mice.
The results of the study shocked them.
The study, published in the June issue of the international research journal Cell Metabolism, found mice that took nicotinamide riboside in fairly high doses along with their high-fat meals burned more fat and were protected from obesity while keeping them fit and energetic. They also became better runners thanks to muscles that have greater endurance, scientists said.
No side effects
As if the news couldn't get any better, as much as the researchers tried, "we were not able to detect side effects,” says Carles Cantó, lead author on the article.
Even in quantities ten times over the “effective” dose, no adverse reactions were observed. “It really appears that cells use what they need when they need it, and the rest is set aside without being transformed into any kind of deleterious form,” explains the scientist.
As The Telegraph India notes, medical researchers have known for years that nicotinic acid, a member of the vitamin B family, helps lower blood cholesterol, but it has the side effect of severe flushing (marked redness of the face and other areas of the skin), and many people drop treatment.
On that count, if used to improve cholesterol profiles, NR would have a decisive advantage over its “cousin” NA (nicotinic acid, or niacin), which is as effective, but has various side effects such as flushing.
Now before you grab the milk and cookies, we need to answer one more question: how much milk do you need to drink to prevent weight gain?
Although the scientists were able to detect NR in milk, and although they suspect that it is also present in other common foods,“at the moment, we can’t even measure its concentration in milk,” cautions Cantó.
In other words, he says,“it’s impossible to know how much you would have to drink to be able to observe its effects.”
Auwerx told The Telegraph: “You need a higher amount (of NR) than what is present in milk.”
It may be more likely that this new “hidden vitamin in milk,” would serve as a new kind of metabolism-boosting nutritional supplement, researchers write.
“We propose that (experiencing) the benefits will require taking supplements that are rather easy to synthesise,” Auwerx adds.
The scientists are hopeful that their study in mice may not only lead to new ways of protecting people from obesity, but to protect people from other disorders as they age.
The work is just beginning, quips Auwerx, but “now we know why mothers are right when they tell their kids to drink their milk!”
More about nicotinamide riboside, Milk, Obesity