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Megavitamin therapy — Flushed with alcohol
04 April 2002

After a cocktail or beer, the body converts the alcohol to acetaldehyde and thence to acetic acid, or vinegar, which is used for energy in the body. Half of all Asians, however, have a genetic mutation that cripples the enzyme — aldehyde dehydrogenase — that converts acetaldehyde to acetic acid. This leads to an accumulation of acetaldehyde in the blood, which is associated with several types of cancers and other illnesses, including late-onset Alzheimer's disease. Acetaldehyde also dilates the blood vessels, leading to flushing.

What Ames and Elson-Schwab discovered in the literature is that the mutation, a change in only one amino acid, occurs in an area of the enzyme that binds to the cofactor NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), resulting in a 150-fold decrease in binding between enzyme and cofactor and a subsequent decrease in the conversion of acetaldehyde to vinegar.

NAD comes from vitamin B-3, niacin, suggesting that high doses of niacin might boost the activity of the enzyme/coenzyme complex and help to prevent the build-up of acetaldehyde resulting from alcohol consumption among Asians, Ames said.

—By Robert Sanders, Media Relations

Megavitamins may be useful treatment for many genetic diseases, or just good way to tune up body's metabolism