Vitamin B3 may have been produced in space and brought to Earth by meteorites, says the latest study.
The study funded by Nasa researchers suggests that the origin of life may have been assisted by a supply of key molecules created in space and brought to Earth by comets and carbon-rich meteors.
Vitamin B3 is essential to metabolism and is likely to have originated when the Earth was very young. But scientists suspect an extra source of the vitamin came from the outer world, according to the study published online in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.
"Earlier work has shown that vitamin B3 could have been produced non-biologically on ancient Earth, but it's possible that an added source of vitamin B3 could have been helpful," lead author of the research paper Karen Smith of Pennsylvania State University said in a statement.
Researchers analysed samples from eight different carbon-rich meteorites and found Vitamin B3 at levels ranging from about 30 to 600 parts-per-billion.
"We discovered a pattern – less vitamin B3 was found in meteorites that came from asteroids that were more altered by liquid water," Smith said.
"One possibility may be that these molecules were destroyed during the prolonged contact with liquid water," she added
According to scientists, when the solar system was formed, radiation from nearby exploding stars could have caused some chemical reactions producing such biologically important molecules as Vitamin B3.