Nicotinamide Riboside Health Benefits + Side Effects

Nicotinamide Riboside

Nicotinamide Riboside Health Benefits + Side Effects

The foundational strength of our brain is a small part of each cell called the mitochondria. When we use cognitive enhancers and nootropics that improve mitochondrial health, we can increase our energy and increase our resilience and longevity. That is the key of nicotinamide riboside, which has a wide variety of benefits.

Popular among biohacking communities, nicotinamide riboside (NR) increases the health of our mitochondria (the powerhouses of each cell) [1]. Similar to CoQ10 and PQQ, nicotinamide riboside supplements can boost both physical and cognitive function. NR has a preserving effect on neurons suggest neuroprotective capabilities [2].

The same mechanism of nicotinamide riboside can also enhance cognition and reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in animal models [3]. As with many foundational nootropics, the nicotinamide benefits come with few side effects.

Editors’ Thoughts on Nicotinamide Riboside

Anything that improves mitochondrial function is a boon in my experience. While the beginner might be alarmed there is no significant “feeling”, the supplement works long term and has foundational support for mitochondria (as mentioned above).

At least a few times per week I don’t consume any nootropics or stimulatory drugs, but focus only on the options that can boost mitochondrial function or act as antioxidants. I NR supplements and don’t feel the need to take high doses daily.

Nootropedia Editor

Nicotinamide Riboside Benefits

There are many nicotinamide riboside benefits beyond the brain. Because this molecule is important for basic mitochondrial function, it impacts every cell in the body. Similar to creatine, when we supplement with NR, we see benefits universally.

Before we dive into the cognitive benefits, it’s useful to note that nicotinamide riboside can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress [4]. There are also nicotinamide riboside cancer benefits as well. Studies show NR can reduce tumor growth and protects DNA synthesis within cancer patients [5].

All of this culminates in general longevity and antiaging advantages. The byproduct of NR helps reprogram dysfunctional cells, which rejuvenate and enhance overall cell function [6]. Because our cell function starts to decrease with age, this is a method of improving lifespan and quality of life.

There are a host of nicotinamide riboside benefits for the brain specifically. There are over 5 million Americans struggling with Alzheimer’s disease [7], which is the 6th highest cause of death. One 3 month study found that nicotinamide riboside could increase cognition and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease [8].

A separate study showed that nicotinamide riboside (NR) could delay the death of brain cells, which suggest a neuroprotective effect [9].

Anyone considered elderly can find nicotinamide riboside benefits almost immediately, but young healthy adults can as well.

What is Nicotinamide Riboside?

Nicotinamide riboside is a molecule similar to vitamin B3, though different enough to have unique effects [10]. It is a combination of niacinamide and ribose, which is often found in cow’s milk, whey protein, and brewer’s yeast.

The NR supplement is so effective because it acts as a precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) [11]. The NAD is the source of most benefits within the cells and throughout the body.

Nicotinamide Riboside Side Effects

There are few nicotinamide riboside side effects, but as with any other compound risks are associated with the supplement. One animal study suggests NR supplementation could reduce physical performance by up to 35% compared to a control group (10%) [12]. While this may not apply to humans, it is worthwhile to note especially for athletes.

Otherwise, there are few nicotinamide riboside side effects. The compound is a naturally occurring form of vitamin B3 suggesting it’s generally safe. Even at high doses of 5000 mg / kg, there weren’t adverse effects [13].

Most users will not experience nicotinamide riboside side effects unless physically active. Even then, the loss of physical performance is theoretical animal models while there is no human evidence.

Vitamin NR Dosage

Getting the vitamin NR dosage correct can help avoid nicotinamide riboside side effects as well. Most of the studies are in the thousands of milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight, but the suggested NR supplement dose is 1 – 200 mg per day.

There are plenty of anecdotal reports of doses up to 600 mg per day, which can increase mental energy and focus, but these are neither common nor recommended for first time users. It’s best to take niagen within the 1 – 200 mg per day dose range.

How and Where to Buy Nicotinamide Riboside

Nicotinamide riboside supplements are easy to find on the internet and may be available at a local health food store. It is relatively new in supplement form and uncommon, but there may be local vendors selling the product.

The best place to buy Nicotinamide Riboside is from our trusted vendor, PureNootropics. PureNootropics has been leading the Nootropics Supplements in the right direction with quality being the first target.

Nicotinamide Riboside Food Sources

Anyone can take advantage of nicotinamide riboside food sources without needing a supplement. The main dietary sources of this nutrient are as follows:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Whey protein
  • Brewer’s yeast

For many people (the editor included), dairy is off limits for other reasons. The nicotinamide riboside food sources might be effective, but are less efficient than a NR supplement.

Selected Online Experiences

“Its hard to say. Started taking it 3 days ago, but I have had the flu the entire time. I do feel that I have enhanced alertness and energy that is sustained until the moment that I fall asleep.

Anecdotally, My vision seems to have improved.

Since I have been sick, I have been wearing my glasses which are old (I have gotten 3 contact prescription increases since I got them) but I can see perfect detail with them now.” [14] – mootbrute

“23 year old male, I haven't noticed anything from it either, unfortunately. PQQ is more noticeable for me.” [15] – Sherlockian_Holmes

“In terms of what I felt subjectively:

  • I felt significantly better after eating large meals, no food comas.
  • The first few days I felt my mood and energy levels were much better. The effect seemed to diminish with time.” [16] – ZombieChalmers

Nicotinamide Riboside Reviews

There are few studies of nicotinamide riboside on healthy adults (or humans specifically), which prompts investigation into anecdotal information. The nicotinamide riboside reviews are worthwhile to better ascertain what experience you can expect.

The nicotinamide riboside reviews should not be the only data point from which to research, but is an effective tool for making purchase decisions nonetheless.

References (Click to Expand)


Nicotinamide Riboside Health Benefits + Side Effects

Nicotinamide Riboside Health Benefits + Side Effects

Nicotinamide Riboside is a precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, a compound with many purported benefits. Since it activates sirtuins, people claim it has anti-aging properties.

Others use it to support a healthy circadian rhythm. Scientists have explored its effects on generating energy in mitochondrial-dense tissues muscle, brain, and liver.

Read more below to get a clear picture of its effects.


Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) is a nucleoside made niacinamide and ribose. It is a form of Vitamin B3, which is also called niacin or nicotinic acid [1].

It can be found in cow’s milk, brewer’s yeast [2], and whey protein [3, 1].

Nicotinamide Riboside supplements have not been approved by the FDA for medical use. Supplements generally lack solid clinical research. Regulations set manufacturing standards for them but don’t guarantee that they’re safe or effective. Speak with your doctor before supplementing.

Proposed Mechanism

Nicotinamide riboside is a precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which means it is needed to make NAD+. Most of NR’s purported health benefits are claimed to be a result of its formation of NAD+, though no clinical research supports such claims [4].

By carrying and letting go of electrons, NAD+ is necessary for energy creation in the mitochondria. (Watch this 2-minute video to learn how this works.) Therefore, NAD+ is important for mitochondrial health.

NR supplementation is hypothesized to increase NAD+, which then activates the following enzymes [5]:

  • Sirtuins, a potential anti-aging target
  • PARPs, which may repair damaged DNA
  • CD38, a receptor in the immune system which is involved in glucose-induced insulin secretion

Because Sirt1 activates PGC-1alpha, scientists are investigating if NR supplementation stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis and improves mitochondrial health [6].

Proponents say that NR supplementation supports tissues that heavily rely on mitochondria for energy, including the nervous system, the liver, the heart, and the muscles. Yet, their theories are purely theoretical and no valid studies support them.

Researchers believe NR might increase NAD+ regardless of NAMPT activity, which may help mitigate the aging effects of poor circadian rhythm entrainment in animals [7].

1) High Cholesterol

In one study of 40 obese, sedentary men with high blood fats, nicotinamide riboside did not improve total or LDL cholesterol compared to placebo after 12 weeks [8].

2) Obesity & Insulin Resistance

In a small study of 40 sedentary, obese, insulin-resistant men, nicotinamide riboside didn’t improve insulin sensitivity, glucose metabolism, blood lipid levels, or body composition compared to placebo after 12 weeks [9].

3) High Blood Pressure

In a small preliminary study of healthy middle-aged and older adults, nicotinamide riboside increased NAD+ levels, which is thought to help lower blood pressure. It also tended to lower blood pressure, but this was uncertain since it isn’t a measure the researchers were primarly interested in [10].

We can’t draw any reliable conclusions about the effects of nicotineamide riboside on blood pressure from this study. Follow-up trials are needed [10].

Lacking Evidence For:

No clinical evidence supports the use of nicotinamide riboside for any of the conditions listed in this section.

Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research that should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies listed below should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.

Remember to speak with a doctor before taking nicotinamide riboside supplements. Nicotinamide riboside should never be used as a replacement for approved medical therapies.

4) Muscle Function

Human data on the effects of NR on muscle function are lacking.

In animals, NR restored muscle mass and preserved muscle NAD levels and exercise capacity in older mice [4].

Mitochondrial myopathy is a disease where the mitochondria in muscle cells are damaged. It can cause muscle weakness and other problems [11].

Oral administration of NR in mice delayed myopathy progression by preventing mitochondrial abnormalities. NR supplementation reduced NAD+ consumption, which improved mitochondrial function [11].

In mice, supplementation of NR (400mg/kg) increased NAD+ levels in muscles, which increased their energy use and metabolism [1].

Scientists are also looking at the effects of NR on stimulated mitochondrial unfolded protein response, which theoretically may protect against mitochondrial disease [12].

5) Antioxidant Effects

The antioxidant potential of NR in humans remains to be investigated.

NR reduced the negative effects of high levels of oxidative stress in mice [13].

Low levels of NAD+ synthesis are hypothesized to cause DNA damage. NR supplementation increases NAD+ levels. Some researchers consider NR may help protect against DNA damage, oxidative damage, and tumor progression, but research is lacking to support this theory [14].

6) Diabetic Symptoms

In prediabetic mice, NR supplementation improved glucose tolerance, reduced weight gain, and reduced liver damage. In Type 2 diabetic mice, NR reduced blood glucose and protected against diabetic nerve problems [15, 16].

However, the effects of NR on diabetic symptoms in humans are not known.

7) Brain Health

According to some yet unconfirmed theories, proper NAD metabolism may help protect the brain. Scientists are exploring whether NR protects the nerve cells in the brain by activating the SIRT3 [17] and PGC1a [18] pathways and delaying axonal degeneration [19].

NR improved cognitive function and slowed the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in mice given for 3 months. These findings cannot be extrapolated to humans [20].

8) Liver Health

One research team studied how the oral administration of NR increases NAD in animals. They suggest its properties may help protect the liver. NR stopped fat accumulation, lowered oxidative stress, prevented inflammation, and improved insulin sensitivity in the liver of mice, but additional animal studies and clinical evidence are lacking [21].

9) Hearing Loss

Administration of NR after noise exposure prevented noise-induced hearing loss in mice. It reduced the degeneration of nerve cells caused by noise exposure. The authors suggested that SIRT3 might mediate these effects. Nonetheless, the effects of NR on hearing loss in humans remain unknown [22].

10) Longevity

Some scientists are exploring the potential anti-aging effects of NR in cells and animals. However, no clinical data to date suggests that NR has any longevity-promoting effects in humans, despite some widespread marketing claims.

Research teams investigating whether NR increases the amount of NAD in the body. They think this might, theoretically, help reprogram dysfunctional cells and increase longevity in mammals. Still, such theories remain unproven [23].

Some sources cite an animal study that no valid conclusions can be drawn from. In the study, NR induced the mitochondrial unfolded protein response and synthesis of prohibitin proteins. This was said to “rejuvenated stem cells” in aged mice. Their findings have yet to be replicated and confirmed [23].

11) Mitochondrial Health

Scientists suspect that the nucleus and mitochondria can both metabolize NR. In animals and cells, NR raises the nuclear and mitochondrial NAD+ levels, thereby activating nuclear SIRT1 and mitochondrial SIRT3 respectively. Though these pathways theoretically boost mitochondrial function, the effects of NR on mitochondria in humans are not known [11].

Food Sources of Nicotinamide Riboside

  • Cow’s milk [3]
  • Whey Protein [1]
  • Brewer’s yeast [2]

Cautions / Side Effects

NR is generally well tolerated.

In clinical trials, no serious adverse effects were reported in patients taking nicotinamide riboside in doses up to 1000 mg twice daily for up to 12 weeks.

In mice, NR supplementation worsens exercise performance. They had a lower physical performance compared to the control group [24].

“The NR group showed a tendency towards worse physical performance by 35% compared to the control group at the final 10% load (P = 0.071)” [24].

Is Nicotinamide Riboside Right For You?

Nicotinamide levels may be influenced by genes. SelfDecode can help you determine how your genetic variations might be linked to your nicotinamide levels and general health. We now offer our own testing kit for users in the United States, but accept many other testing kits.

SelfDecode has the NAMPT gene, which controls NAD+ levels. Genetic variations associated with producing NAMPT less efficiently may, theoretically, increase the need for NR.

Check out your SNPs:

  1. RS1319501 (NAMPT)
  2. RS9770242 (NAMPT)

NAD(+) level decrease in aged mice and humans, which some scientists think is a result of lower NAMPT. Have in mind that these theories have not been verified in humans [21].


First human clinical trial for nicotinamide riboside

Nicotinamide Riboside Health Benefits + Side Effects

Brenner conducted pilot human study on himself; finds from clinical trial that vitamin safely boosts levels of important cell metabolite linked to multiple health benefits.

In the first controlled clinical trial of nicotinamide riboside (NR), a newly discovered form of Vitamin B3, researchers have shown that the compound is safe for humans and increases levels of a cell metabolite that is critical for cellular energy production and protection against stress and DNA damage.

Studies in mice have shown that boosting the levels of this cell metabolite—known as NAD+—can produce multiple health benefits, including resistance to weight gain, improved control of blood sugar and cholesterol, reduced nerve damage, and longer lifespan. Levels of NAD+ diminish with age, and it has been suggested that loss of this metabolite may play a role in age-related health decline.

Charles Brenner, PhD

These findings in animal studies have spurred people to take commercially available NR supplements designed to boost NAD+. However, these over-the-counter supplements have not undergone clinical trials to see if they work in people.

The new research, reported Oct. 10 in the journal Nature Communications, was led by Charles Brenner, PhD, professor and Roy J.

Carver Chair of Biochemistry at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in collaboration with colleagues at Queens University Belfast and ChromaDex Corp. (NASDAQ: CDXC), which supplied the NR used in the trial. Brenner is a consultant for ChromaDex.

He also is co-founder and Chief Scientific Adviser of ProHealthspan, which sells NR supplements under the trade name Tru NIAGEN®.

The human trial involved six men and six women, all healthy. Each participant received single oral doses of 100 mg, 300 mg, or 1,000 mg of NR in a different sequence with a seven-day gap between doses.

After each dose, blood and urine samples were collected and analyzed by Brenner’s lab to measure various NAD+ metabolites in a process called metabolomics.

The trial showed that the NR vitamin increased NAD+ metabolism by amounts directly related to the dose, and there were no serious side effects with any of the doses.

“This trial shows that oral NR safely boosts human NAD+ metabolism,” Brenner says.

“We are excited because everything we are learning from animal systems indicates that the effectiveness of NR depends on preserving and/or boosting NAD+ and related compounds in the face of metabolic stresses.

Because the levels of supplementation in mice that produce beneficial effects are achievable in people, it appears than health benefits of NR will be translatable to humans safely.”

The next step will be to study the effect of longer duration NR supplementation on NAD+ metabolism in healthy adults, but Brenner also has plans to test the effects of NR in people with diseases and health conditions, including elevated cholesterol, obesity and diabetes, and people at risk for chemotherapeutic peripheral neuropathy.

Self-study precedes clinical trial

Prior to the formal clinical trial, Brenner conducted a pilot human study—on himself. In 2004, he had discovered that NR is a natural product found in milk and that there is pathway to convert NR to NAD+ in people.

More than a decade of research on NR metabolic pathways and health effects in mice and rats had convinced him that NR supplementation had real promise to improve human health and wellness.

After consulting with UI’s institutional review board, he conducted an experiment in which he took 1 gram of NR once a day for seven days, and his team analyzed blood and urine samples using mass spectrometry. The experiment showed that Brenner’s blood NAD+ increased by about 2.

7 times. In addition, though he reported immediate sensitivity to flushing with the related compound niacin, he did not experience any side effects taking NR.

The biggest surprise from his metabolomic analysis was an increase in a metabolite called NAAD, which was multiplied by 45 times, from trace levels to amounts in the micromolar range that were easily detectable.

“While this was unexpected, I thought it might be useful,” Brenner says. “NAD+ is an abundant metabolite and it is sometimes hard to see the needle move on levels of abundant metabolites.

But when you can look at a low-abundance metabolite that goes from undetectable to easily detectable, there is a great signal to noise ratio, meaning that NAAD levels could be a useful biomarker for tracking increases in NAD+ in human trials.”

Brenner notes this was a case of bidirectional translational science; having learned something from the initial human experiment, his team was able to return to laboratory mice to explore the unexpected NAAD finding in more detail.

First mice, then men and women

Brenner’s mouse study showed that NAAD is formed from NR and confirmed that NAAD levels are a strong biomarker for increased NAD+ metabolism. The experiments also revealed more detail about NAD+ metabolic pathways.

In particular, the researchers compared the ability of all three NAD+ precursor vitamins—NR, niacin, and nicotinamide—to boost NAD+ metabolism and stimulate the activity of certain enzymes, which have been linked to longevity and health benefits.

The study showed for the first time that oral NR is superior to nicotinamide, which is better than niacin in terms of the total amount of NAD+ produced at an equivalent dose. NR was also the best of the three in stimulating the activity of sirtuin enzymes.

However, in this case, NR was the best at stimulating sirtuin- activities, followed by niacin, followed by nicotinamide.

The information from the mouse study subsequently helped Brenner’s team design the formal clinical trial. In addition to showing that NR boosts NAD+ in humans without adverse effects, the trial confirmed that NAAD is a highly sensitive biomarker of NAD+ supplementation in people.

“Now that we have demonstrated safety in this small clinical trial, we are in a position to find out if the health benefits that we have seen in animals can be reproduced in people,” says Brenner, who also is co-director of the Obesity Research and Education Initiative, professor of internal medicine, and a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center at the UI.

In addition to Brenner, the research team included lead study author Samuel Trammell, Mark Schmidt, Benjamin Weidemann, Zhonggang Li, and E. Dale Abel at the UI Carver College of Medicine; Philip Redpath and Marie Migaud at Queens University Belfast; Frank Jaksch at ChromaDex in Irvine, Calif, and Ryan Dellinger, formerly at ChromaDex.

The research was funded in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Roy J. Carver Trust, and ChromaDex.


NICOTINAMIDE RIBOSIDE: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings

Nicotinamide Riboside Health Benefits + Side Effects
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Airhart SE, Shireman LM, Risler LJ, et al. An open-label, non-randomized study of the pharmacokinetics of the nutritional supplement nicotinamide riboside (NR) and its effects on blood NAD+ levels in healthy volunteers. PLoS One 2017;12(12):e0186459. View abstract.

Braidy N, Berg J, Clement J, et al. Role of nicotinamide dinucleotide and related precursors as therapeutic targets for age-related degenerative diseases: rationale, biochemistry, pharmacokinetics, and outcomes. Antiox Redox Signal 2018. View abstract.

Brown KD, Maqsood S, Huang JY, et al. Activation of SIRT3 by the NAD? precursor nicotinamide riboside protects from noise-induced hearing loss. Cell Metab 2014;20(6):1059-68. View abstract.

Chi Y, Sauve AA. Nicotinamide riboside, a trace nutrient in foods, is a vitamin B3 with effects on energy metabolism and neuroprotection. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2013;16(6):657-61. View abstract.

Close GL, Hamilton DL, Philp A, Burke LM, Morton JP. New strategies in sport nutrition to increase exercise performance. Free Radic Biol Med 2016;98:144-58. View abstract.

Conze D, Brenner C, Kruger CL. Safety and metabolism of long-term administration of NIAGEN (nicotinamide riboside chloride) in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of healthy overweight adults. Sci Rep 2019;9(1):9772. View abstract.

Conze DB, Crespo-Barreto J, Kruger CL. Safety assessment of nicotinamide riboside, a form of vitamin B3. Hum Exp Toxicol 2016;35(11):1149-60. View abstract.

Dellinger RW, Santos SR, Morris M, et al. Repeat dose NRPT (nicotinamide riboside and pterostilbene) increases NAD+ levels in humans safety and sustainably: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. NPJ J Aging Mech Dis 2017;3:17. View abstract.

Diguet N, Trammell SAJ, Tannous C, et al. Nicotinamide riboside preserves cardiac function in a mouse model of dilated cardiomyopathy. Circulation 2018;137(21):2256-73. Erratum in: Circulation 2018;137(21):e690. View abstract.

Dollerup OL, Christensen B, Svart M, et al. A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial of nicotinamide riboside in obese men: safety, insulin-sensitivity, and lipid-mobilizing effects. Am J Clin Nutr 2018;108(2):343-53. View abstract.

Dollerup OL, Chubanava S, Agerholm M, et al. Nicotinamide riboside does not alter mitochondrial respiration, content or morphology in skeletal muscle from obese and insulin resistant men. J Physiol 2019 [Epub ahead of print]. View abstract.

Dollerup OL, Trammell SAJ, Hartmann B, et al. Effects of nicotinamide riboside on endocrine pancreatic function and incretin hormones in nondiabetic men with obesity. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2019;104(11):5703-14. View abstract.

Dolopikou CF, Kourtzidis IA, Margaritelis NV, et al. Acute nicotinamide riboside supplementation improves redox homeostasis and exercise performance in old individuals: a double-blind cross-over study. Eur J Nutr 2019 [Epub ahead of print]. View abstract.

Elhassan YS, Philp AA, Lavery GG. Targeting NAD+ in metabolic disease: new insights into an old molecule. J Endocr Soc 2017;1(7):816-35. View abstract.

Gong B, Pan Y, Vemati P, et al. Nicotinamide riboside restores cognition through an upregulation of proliferator-activated receptor-? coactivator 1a regulated ß-secretase 1 degradation and mitochondrial gene expression in Alzheimer's mouse models. Nuerobiol Aging 2013;34(6):1581-8. View abstract.

Han X, Bao X, Lou Q, et al. Nicotinamide riboside exerts protective effect against aging-induced NAFLD- hepatic dysfunction in mice. PeerJ 2019;7:e7568. View abstract.

Hong G, Zheng D, Zhang L, et al. Administration of nicotinamide riboside prevents oxidative stress and organ injury in sepsis. Free Radic Biol Med 2018;123:125-37. View abstract.

Johnson S, Imai SI. NAD+ biosynthesis, aging, and disease. F1000Res 2018;7:132. View abstract.

Lee HJ, Yang SJ. Supplementation with nicotinamide riboside reduces brain inflammation and improves cognitive function in diabetic mice. Int J Mol Sci 2019;20(17). pii: E4196. View abstract.

Martens CR, Denman BA, Mazzo MR, et al. Chronic nicotinamide riboside supplementation is well-tolerated and elevates NAD+ in healthy middle-aged and older adults. Nat Commun 2018;9(1):1286. View abstract.

Shi W, Hegeman MA, Doncheva A, Bekkenkamp-Grovenstein M, de Boer VCJ, Keijer J. High dose of dietary nicotinamide riboside induces glucose intolerance and white adipose tissue dysfunction in mice fed a mildly obesogenic diet. Nutrients 2019;11(10). pii: E2439. View abstract.

Teijeiro A, Djouder N. Nicotinamide riboside or IL-17A signaling blockers to prevent liver disorders. Oncoscience 2017;4(1-2):1-2. View abstract.

Trammell SA, Schmidt MS, Weidemann BJ, et al. Nicotinamide riboside is uniquely and orally bioavailable in mice and humans. Nat Commun 2016;7:12948. View abstract.

Trammell SA, Yu L, Redpath P, Migaud ME, Brenner C. Nicotinamide riboside is a major NAD+ precursor vitamin in cow milk. J Nutr 2016;146(5):957-63. View abstract.

Xie X, Gao Y, Zeng M, et al. Nicotinamide ribose ameliorates cognitive impairment of aged and Alzheimer's disease model mice. Metab Brain Dis 2019;34(1):353-66. View abstract.

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Nicotinamide Riboside: Effective Anti-Aging Supplement or Hype?

Nicotinamide Riboside Health Benefits + Side Effects

Nicotinamide riboside (NR), a newly discovered form of vitamin B3, is getting a lot of attention recently. It’s being touted as an anti-aging vitamin because of its ability to raise NAD+ levels, a coenzyme that plays an important role in many biological processes.

So is NR really a more effective form of vitamin B3 for boosting metabolism, cardiovascular health and brain function? Although research on this topic is scant, there are human and animal studies that indicate this vitamins many health benefits, similar to an NAD supplement.

What Is Nicotinamide Riboside? How Does It Work?

Nicotinamide riboside, which is also called niagen, is a form of vitamin B3. It serves as a precursor for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), a coenzyme that’s needed for important body functions, metabolism, energy production, regulating the body’s circadian rhythm and repairing DNA damage.

You may be used to seeing “niacin” as a common form of vitamin B3. Niacin is often added to packaged foods in order to reduce the risk of vitamin B3 deficiency.

niacin side effects, nicotinamide riboside works to increase NAD+ levels, but NR actually requires less energy to do so.

Researchers have found that NR becomes NAD+ faster than other forms of vitamin B3, which is exactly why it’s getting praise as an anti-aging, health-promoting supplement. Plus, NR requires less energy from the body to boost NAD+, so the body can use that energy for other needs.

As we age, our NAD+ levels naturally decline, and low levels of the coenzyme have been linked to aging and some common health conditions, heart disease and neurodegenerative disease.

Nicotinamide riboside has gained attention because of its ability to raise NAD+ levels. This may improve symptoms of chronic diseases, reverse signs of aging and improve vision loss, according to recent research.

1. Stimulates NAD+ Metabolism

A recent study conducted at the University of Colorado found that supplementing with nicotinamide riboside effectively stimulates NAD+ metabolism in healthy middle-aged and older adults.

Researchers found that not only was NR supplementation well-tolerated among participants, but it may be beneficial for reducing blood pressure and arterial stiffness too.

NAD+ deficiency is a common central cause of aging and a number of diseases, and studies show that restoring NAD+ levels has great therapeutic and nutritional value.

By increasing NAD+ levels, nicotinamide riboside benefits the following body functions:

  • metabolic regulation
  • energy storage
  • DNA synthesis

2. Improves Exercise Performance

A 2019 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that using nicotinamide riboside supplements improved physical performance and decreased oxidative stress in older individuals.

Researchers believe that NR supplementation benefits NAD+ deficient individuals, which explains why it would be more effective in older adults than younger people.

3. Boosts Cognitive Health

As an NAD+ precursor, nicotinamide riboside works to protect brain cells against oxidative stress that can cause age-related brain disorders.

NAD+ also increases the production of PGC-1-alpha, a protein that supports mitochondrial function and reduces the incidence of cognitive dysfunction, according to research published in Neurobiology Aging.

Researchers at the National Institute on Aging in Maryland found that, among mice, NAD+ depletion plays a pivotal role in neuro-inflammation, DNA damage and neuronal degeneration in Alzheimer’s disease.

More research is needed to fully understand how raising NAD+ levels with NR supplementation can promote cognitive health, but the current research looks promising.

4. Reduces the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

A 2019 study on middle-aged and older adults indicates that using oral NR for six weeks works to decrease systolic blood pressure and arterial stiffness.

High blood pressure and arterial stiffness are both strong predictors of cardiovascular disease, so this study suggests that using nicotinamide riboside may reduce the risk of related morbidity and mortality.

Supplement and Dosage Info

Nicotinamide riboside supplements are available in tablet, capsule and powder forms. You can find them online or in health food or vitamin stores.

The most common nicotinamide riboside dosage recommendation is taking between 250–500 milligrams per day. Serving sizes depend on the brand, but the recommended use is typically one to two capsules per day.

NR supplements are sometimes advertised or branded as being “flush-free.” This is because nicotinamide riboside is less ly to cause flushing, which can be a niacin side effect known as niacin flush.

Using a NR supplement is the most common way to increase NAD+ levels, but the vitamin is also found in smaller amounts in cow’s milk and yeast.

Risks and Side Effects

Nicotinamide riboside is ly safe and well-tolerated when it’s used appropriately.

The safety and metabolism of NR supplements were evaluated in a study published in Scientific Reports.

Researchers found that when NR was given at 100-, 300- and 1,000-milligram doses during an eight-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, it effectively increased NAD+ levels and didn’t cause any adverse events.

In other human studies, taking up to 2,000 milligrams per day had no side effects and was considered well-tolerated. But before taking higher doses of NR, be sure to seek advice from your health care professional.

As mentioned, using nicotinamide riboside supplements is ly safe when you stick to the recommended dosage on the manufacturer label. Before exceeding the general serving size of 250–500 milligrams per day, consult your doctor.

Final Thoughts

  • Nicotinamide riboside (or niagen) is a form of vitamin B3 that serves as a precursor to NAD+, a coenzyme that plays a critical role in many body processes.
  • NR supplements are commonly used to support energy production, promote DNA repair, boost cognitive health and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • There is no official recommended dosage for NR, as more studies are needed to fully understand its role in human health, but the most common serving is 250–500 milligrams per day.
  • Research indicates that NR is well-tolerated and safe when used appropriately.


Is Nicotinamide Riboside Really An Anti-Aging Supplement? — Tru Niagen Blog

Nicotinamide Riboside Health Benefits + Side Effects

The term “anti-aging” gets a bad reputation.It sounds we’re trying to stop something that’s already well underway, or we can’t embrace the parts of ourselves we’re supposed to love.

But the reality is there are metabolic changes happening underneath the skin well before we see the effects of aging.

Choosing to approach our health from the inside out might be just what we need to age better. 

In fact, one of the hallmarks of aging is a process known as “mitochondrial dysfunction.

” Before your eyes glaze over, this term refers (very generally) to our cells losing power and becoming less effective over time. It may be one of the reasons we age at all.

And if the mitochondria are at the heart of why we age, it makes sense to look at every possible way of keeping them functioning for as long as possible.

That’s one of the reasons why some of the world’s leading scientists are turning to nicotinamide riboside (NR). This unique form of vitamin B3 shows the potential to affect mitochondrial health and in turn, many of the age-related problems associated with it.

Back to Biology Basics

Inside almost every cell are these tiny, strangely shaped organelles called mitochondria—you might remember them as: “the powerhouses of the cell.

” These mini-organs are responsible for producing 90% of the energy we need in our bodies. The mitochondria are the reason why we exist as the complex animals we are today, rather than bacteria.

They’re why we get sick, why we get healthy again, and ultimately why we die.

We didn’t always know just how vital the mitochondria were to our health, but we do now. We also know one key way of keeping mitochondria healthy is a molecule known as NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide).

Our cells naturally produce NAD, and we use it constantly throughout the day. We also know our NAD supply declines as we age.

Once researchers realized NAD could be the key to keeping our cells (and therefore our bodies) healthy as we age, they scrambled for a way to make more of it.

“Once researchers realized NAD could be the key to keeping our cells (and therefore, our bodies) healthy as we age, they scrambled for a way to make more of it.”

Learn more about NAD from Tru Niagen®

The Beginning of the Vitamin B3s

Researchers already knew of two vitamins that began the chemical process to increase NAD: niacin and nicotinamide. These were discovered in the 1930s and used to treat pellagra, a potentially deadly B3 deficiency disease.

Niacin would also go on to be a treatment for high cholesterol in the 1950s. However, people found that ingesting Niacin in high doses sometimes resulted in an annoying skin flush that was both irritating and unsightly.

Nicotinamide (or NAM) didn’t cause the skin flush and could in theory provide a lot of the same benefits, but it inhibited the activation of important cellular repair promoting proteins known as sirtuins.

 Neither nicotinamide nor niacin were as effective as researchers were hoping they’d be.

Although these two vitamins were NAD precursors, they weren’t ideal solutions. With niacin’s negative side effects, and the relative effectiveness of NAM, researchers still didn’t have a good enough vitamin supplement for increasing NAD levels.

One Man’s Vitamin Could Be Everyone’s Treasure

Another vitamin B3 known as nicotinamide riboside (NR) was discovered in the 1940s in yeast. But it wasn’t until the early 2000s that scientists began to see the potential of this third form of vitamin B3 to not only increase NAD but also improve human health in general. In 2004, a Dartmouth College research team discovered that NR, its vitamin B3 brothers, was also a precursor to NAD.

The team, led by Charles Brenner, PhD, found that NR could increase NAD in mice and that those mice experienced a plethora of health benefits as a result.

The mice showed everything from improved blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels to reduced nerve damage, and resistance to weight gain. Dr.

Charles Brenner found these results so inspiring, he knew the next step was to see what a safe and efficient vitamin NR could mean for human health. So that’s exactly what he did.

In 2014, Dr. Charles Brenner became the first human ever to consume NR as a supplement. The results were just as promising as before. This relatively unknown form of vitamin B3 significantly increased his NAD levels safely, quickly, and without any negative side effects. 

“It wasn’t until the early 2000s that scientists began to see the potential of this third form of vitamin B3…”

While Brenner made for a great lab rat and the findings produced from his self-trial were encouraging, clearly more testing was needed to confirm whether NR was a viable supplement option for humans. As the Dr.

Roy J. Carver Chair of Biochemistry at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Dr.

Charles Brenner collaborated with his colleagues at Queen’s University Belfast to perform the first formal human trial of NR.

In their trial, 12 healthy adults were given a single varying serving of NR, with seven-day gaps between servings. Blood and urine samples were collected throughout the trial and analyzed. In 2016, they published the promising results: NR supplementation safely increased NAD levels.

Another reason NR holds an edge over its B3 brothers, apart from its lack of negative side effects, is because of something called a pathway. A pathway is the string of steps used to create a compound, in this case, NAD.

NR uses a unique pathway to produce NAD that none of the other vitamin B3s use. NR is also the motivational speaker of the cellular world. When NR gets to work in the cell, it helps form NAD and gives sirtuins, the cellular repair promoting proteins, a pep talk. These sirtuins then work overtime to help cells stay strong as we age.

Staying healthy as we age will never be as simple as one vitamin. Even with one as promising as NR.

There are over 100 studies looking into NR, with many showing that increased NAD levels are tied to metabolic and muscular health in mice.

There are even more studies underway surrounding the positive effects of NAD levels on other age-related health problems including fatty liver disease, weight gain, insulin levels, and brain function in mice.

With six completed human trials, and many more underway, it’s only a matter of time before we know whether the benefits of this one simple vitamin could reach far beyond those of an average “anti-aging” supplement.