Could Vitamin B3 Be the Key to Treating Preeclampsia?

According to new research, this nutrient might hold the key to dealing with this common—and dangerous—pregnancy complication.

Pregnant Woman-Vitamin B3 Billion Photos/Shutterstock
Preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication that causes dangerously high blood pressure in pregnant moms—is both relatively common (about 8 percent of all pregnant women develop it) and dangerous (it can be fatal). But new research may have found the key to treating preeclampsia—and it might be as simple as incorporating vitamin B3 (AKA nicotinamide). 

Researchers from the U.S. and Japan studied the effect of the vitamin on mice and found it relieved preeclampsia—the vitamin also appeared to help fetal growth in the babies of the mice they observed. This is a major breakthrough, since preeclampsia causes dangerous issues for both moms and their babies—high blood pressure, damage to the blood vessels and swelling in moms-to-be, and restricted fetal growth in the children of women it affects. Nicotinamide appears to be the first drug to safely lower blood pressure, and reduce urine protein and blood vessel damage—as if all that weren't enough, researchers also found evidence that this vitamin may reduce miscarriage risk.

"We had previously shown that endothelin, a strong vessel-narrowing hormone, worsens preeclampsia. But inhibiting the hormone is harmful to the babies," study co-author Nobuyuki Takahashi of Tohoku University's Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences said, according to Science Daily. "In contrast, nicotinamide is generally safe to mothers and babies, corrects the blood vessel narrowing effect of endothelin, and reduces stress to the babies."

While the results are still early, if you're at risk for developing preeclampsia, your doctor may soon be recommending more vitamins for you—and you can eat meat, fish, poultry, and enriched and whole grain breads to help boost your levels.