Beer Fights Obesity

Here’s an interesting one, if I’m reading it correctly. A new study published in the journal Cell Metabolism with the inscrutable title The NAD+ Precursor Nicotinamide Riboside Enhances Oxidative Metabolism and Protects against High-Fat Diet-Induced Obesity appears to suggest that beer (and milk) contain a molecule that helps fight against weight-gain, especially in high-fat diets. The wonder molecule is known as nicotinamide riboside, or NR. Here’s the abstract. See if you can get through it without your head spinning:

As NAD+ is a rate-limiting cosubstrate for the sirtuin enzymes, its modulation is emerging as a valuable tool to regulate sirtuin function and, consequently, oxidative metabolism. In line with this premise, decreased activity of PARP-1 or CD38—both NAD+ consumers—increases NAD+ bioavailability, resulting in SIRT1 activation and protection against metabolic disease. Here we evaluated whether similar effects could be achieved by increasing the supply of nicotinamide riboside (NR), a recently described natural NAD+ precursor with the ability to increase NAD+ levels, Sir2-dependent gene silencing, and replicative life span in yeast. We show that NR supplementation in mammalian cells and mouse tissues increases NAD+ levels and activates SIRT1 and SIRT3, culminating in enhanced oxidative metabolism and protection against high-fat diet-induced metabolic abnormalities. Consequently, our results indicate that the natural vitamin NR could be used as a nutritional supplement to ameliorate metabolic and age-related disorders characterized by defective mitochondrial function.

A mouthful, to be sure, but Jenny Hope, at the UK’s Daily Mail, who presumably had access to the full text, valiantly makes more sense of it in The miracle molecule: Hidden vitamin found in BEER and MILK can make you stronger, slimmer and healthier, and the story starts out very promisingly:

If you were planning on having a quick pint tonight, then this will be welcome news.

Beer may contain a vitamin which can fight obesity and improve muscle strength, scientists claim.

The ‘miracle molecule’, which has been found in milk and may also be present in beer and some foods, has no side effects and could even lengthen lifespan, they say.

The bad news — why does there always have to be bad news? — is that NR is found in vanishingly small quantities, so infinitesimal that you couldn’t really drink enough beer (or milk) to take advantage of NR’s positive effects. Oh, you could try, but such immoderate drinking would no doubt land you on MADD’s most wanted and possibly lead you to an early grave, as well, thus defeating the purpose.

Nonetheless, the results were impressive. In addition to fighting weight gain and improving muscle strength, NR also helped combat diabetes and improved endurance. And did I mention no side effects were found, not even in high doses? Apparently, NR “works by becoming trapped in cells where it boosts the metabolism, much like resveratrol, which is found in wine.”

In a statement, one of the study’s authors, Carles Canto said. “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.”

The next steps, besides human testing, will be figuring out how to better detect it and, more importantly, discovering if it can be synthesized economically so that sufficiently large quantities can be taken. I sure like the idea of Vitamin Beer. Flintstones chewable beer vitamins, anyone?


  1. beerman49 says

    Good luck with that. I’m 6-5 & weighed 180 when I moved to CA @ age 29, & I’d drunk tons of milk before age 21, & had worked on my feet as a grocery clerk for 7-1/2 yrs. Within 1-2 months, I went to 200 after getting a desk job, even tho I was doing a lot of walking to/from bus stops to get to/from work & elsewhere (I lived sans car for close to 7 years because I had easy access to public transit, which served me well).

    Now I’m 63, retired, mostly sedentary, & weigh 240-45 – and eat one big meal/day (usually 5:30-7 PM because I’m a nightowl) – I nibble at various times (mostly late-night, which I know isn’t good). If I gave up beer for a month & did a bit more walking, I’d probably lose 20-30 lbs. When I was 15-16, the family doc told me that I had low metabolism (hence my proclivity for not liking to “get up with the chickens”) – if I had my “druthers”, I’d like my big daily meal to be 2-4 PM, but my lifestyle doesn’t accommodate that.

    This subject is one that we have to figure out for ourselves, given that milk’s iffy for those who have high cholesterol #’s, & that all medical info these days provides contradictory opinions.


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