Vitamin B3 'could help to prevent miscarriages and birth defects'

New research has indicated that a common dietary supplement could be effective in preventing miscarriages and birth defects.

Sydney's Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute has found that deficiencies in a molecule called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) - which plays a key role in energy production, DNA repair and cell communication - can prevent a baby's organs from developing correctly in the womb.  

“Vitamin B3 has been shown to be an effective way of bringing down the number of miscarriages and birth defects.“

By taking a greater amount of vitamin B3, which aids the production of NAD, it was found that miscarriages and birth defects that otherwise would have occurred were completely prevented in lab mice.

At least one-third of pregnant women have low levels of vitamin B3 in their first trimester, rising to 60 percent by the third trimester. This research suggests that a simple change in diet could be enough to greatly increase chances of a healthy birth.

Professor Sally Dunwoodie from the Victor Chang Institute said: "This has the potential to significantly reduce the number of miscarriages and birth defects around the world, and I do not use those words lightly."

Vitamin B3 is often taken as a supplement and is also typically found in meats and green vegetables, as well as products such as vegemite.

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