New research suggests this vitamin could help prevent miscarriages

Jackie and Darren with their daughters Grace Charlie and Sophia who has congenital heart disease

A new study out of Australia has found that the widely used dietary supplement vitamin B3 may help prevent certain kinds of complex birth defects.

Scientists at the Victor Chang Institute in Sydney discovered that having low levels of the molecule nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) can damage embryos in the first weeks of pregnancy, the ABC reports. The lack of NAD makes it hard for the body to make a molecule, which is necessary for the normal development of organs.

"The ramifications are likely to be huge", lead researcher Professor Sally Dunwoodie said in a statement. "It bypasses the genetic problem", she said. However, you might want to start appreciating the dark spread a little more if you're pregnant, as it could hold a whole range of benefits for your baby.

"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".

That vitamin is B3, also known as niacin.

The head of the Victor Chang Institute, Professor Bob Graham, said the discovery could potentially help millions of women around the world.

The researchers genetically sequenced families suffering from miscarriages and birth defects.

He was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, where the left side of the heart can't adequately supply blood because the lower left chamber is too small and the left hand side valves don't work properly.

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And although their findings have only been tested on mice thus far, doctors believe the research could go a long way in preventing miscarriages and birth defects in humans down the line. "And the prevention is so simple, it's a vitamin", she said.

Several years later, the researchers found a similar mutation affecting NAD production in the family of another baby born with congenital problems.

"You can't put into words how fantastic that is for the future of babies".

"This is great for awareness now for women to take it while they are pregnant".

Studies have also shown that by the third trimester of pregnancy, 60% of women are deficit in vitamin B3 and they need to complement their diet with additional supplements of the nutrient.

Scientists say women should take the recommended daily amount of B3 for pregnancy, which is 18 milligrams per day.

Dunwoodie's team began their research back in 2005, when they came across the case of a baby with major defects in the heart, backbone, and ribs.

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