We Are What We Eat (Or Don’t Eat) - How France’s Wild Hampsters May Help Explain Common Symptoms Associated with Dementia

By Jane Ogilvie, Elder Care Issue Consulting

At first glance, the relationship between wild hamsters and “dementia-like behaviors” may seem unlikely, but research studying why wild hamsters were dwindling in population has concluded it’s being caused by a Vitamin B3 deficiency. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/28/frances-wild-hamsters-bein...

Even people with undiagnosed dementia who find themselves unusually irritable, tired, anxious, or are unable to concentrate, may look to the hamster study and find relief simply by making sure they’re getting enough niacin in their diet.

There is an abundance of evidence related to Pellagra, the vitamin B3 deficiency that can cause skin and diarrhea problems, confusion as seen in dementia, and even death. We have our own history of it here in the US. https://www.uab.edu/reynolds/pellagra/history

Just as medical professionals check for urinary tract infections in the elderly matter-of-factly because the connection is strong between UTI symptoms and behaviors, so is the connection between low B3 levels and “dementia-like” symptoms. Here’s an article describing the deficiency and a list of foods that are high in B3: https://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-high-in-niacin-vitamin...

For those who suspect dementia or have it and see an uptick in symptoms, checking to be sure your niacin level is within normal limits seems to be a sensible, matter-of-factly, first on the list, measure to take, just like checking for a UTI.  A simple review of your diet to see if you’ve been eating enough foods high in niacin is easy to do.

If you’re going for a check-up soon, make a note about your B3 intake and mention it to your Dr.  Lab work could help narrow down problems related to a niacin deficiency and help explain other issues as well.

Senior Advisor
Zip code: