A natural ingredient found in milk can protect against obesity even as mice continue to enjoy diets that are high in fat.
The researchers identified this ingredient, known as nicotinamide riboside (see structure), as they were searching for alternative ways to boost the well-known gene SIRT1, which comes with benefits for both metabolism and longevity. 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's team lead by Johan Auwerx, suspected there might be a simpler way to go about it, by boosting levels of one of SIRT1's molecular sidekicks, the cofactor NAD+.
This milk ingredient does just that in a rather appealing way. Not only is it a natural product, but it also gets trapped within cells, where it can do its magic.
Mice that take nicotinamide riboside in fairly high doses along with their high-fat meals burn more fat and are protected from obesity. They also become better runners thanks to muscles that have greater endurance.