What Is Nicotinamide Riboside? What Does It Do?

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They say age is just a number, and that saying may be truer than we realize. Our true biological age can be different from our chronological age, and with advancements in knowledge and practice, we’re learning more about how to slow the process of biological aging.

One of the most promising treatments to combat the aging process is nicotinamide riboside (NR). Keep reading to find out more.

In this article:

  1. What Is Nicotinamide Riboside?
  2. The Benefits of NR
  3. Lack of Side Effects
  4. Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) Effectiveness
  5. Reduced Oxidative Stress
  6. The Upshot
  7. NR Supplements
  8. NR Side Effects

The Work of Nicotinamide Riboside

What Is Nicotinamide Riboside?

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At its simplest, nicotinamide riboside or NR is one type of the B3 vitamin. Most of us are familiar with the better-known type, niacin.

Niacin was discovered in the 1930s when Dr. Joseph Goldberger set about to discover the true cause of a devastating disease known as pellagra. Through his research, he came to understand that something was missing in heavily refined grains, but present in meats and milk, that caused the disease.

A few years later, biochemists discovered the importance of nicotinic acid vitamin or niacin.

Collectively, all the forms of B3, including nicotinamide riboside, are precursors to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD. Our bodies will take the precursors, like niacin and NR, and turn them into NAD.

Precursor Definition: Any substance or cellular component that is transformed into another

NAD is a coenzyme essential for nearly every cellular process in our body. We need it to metabolize fat, carbohydrates, proteins, and alcohol.

Coenzyme Definition: A non-protein substance that works like an enzyme, i.e., creates a chemical reaction

It’s also involved in cellular signaling, healthy cholesterol generation, DNA repair, and the production of fatty acids. The older we get, however, the more our NAD levels decline, and this decline has been linked to all kinds of aging issues from heart disease to neurodegenerative conditions.

The Benefits of NR

Several proteins are types of vitamin B3 and get transformed into NAD by our bodies. So what’s special about NR?

Every organ requires NAD, and the more energy an organ uses, the more NAD it demands. The brain is one of the biggest NAD hogs, but it has trouble synthesizing enough NAD for its needs.

More research is needed, but the current data suggest that of all the “niacins,” only NR supports neuronal NAD synthesis.

Lack of Side Effects

Anyone who has taken a run-of-the-mill vitamin B supplement is familiar with the “niacin flush” that sometimes results. High doses of niacin cause this flush, making it uncomfortable to take niacin in large doses.

Another of the B3 precursors, nicotinamide, doesn’t cause this flush, but it also doesn’t activate cellular repair like niacin does. Consequently, neither of these are great choices for elevating NAD levels consistently and safely as we age. NR is different.

A team from Dartmouth College discovered this precursor vitamin B3 in 2004 and proved that it increased NAD levels faster than any other form of B3 and without the side effects.

Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) Effectiveness

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Taking the other B3 vitamins is like hiring a slightly sketchy moving company to help you move across town. Taking NR is like getting your best friends to help you. The other B3 vitamins use a less efficient pathway to create NAD and take more out of you to do their job. And the second they’ve done their part, they’re out of there.

Nicotinamide riboside, meanwhile, uses a more efficient pathway, doesn’t take as much out of you to get there, and sticks around for a while to make sure the job gets done right. The aging and repair of our cells are controlled by the interaction between NAD and sirtuins.

As we grow older, NAD availability tends to decrease. Not only does NR increase the production of NAD, but it also boosts the effectiveness of the sirtuins that work with that NAD to repair our cells.

With NR on board, we have greater availability of NAD, and that NAD continues its normal, effective communication with sirtuins.

Reduced Oxidative Stress

Oxidative Stress Definition: The balance of free radicals and antioxidants in our bodies

We’re told to eat food with lots of antioxidants, like blueberries and green tea, and while that’s good advice, even that isn’t always enough to combat the free radicals coursing through us. When there are too many of these free radicals, they start damaging normal, healthy tissue, and this damage is implicated in the formation of cancer as well as in heart disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

NR, by boosting NAD levels, is believed to be an effective way to prevent and treat these issues.

The Upshot

So is NR really a super-anti-aging vitamin? The answer to that is we just don’t know for sure yet.

So far, tests in mice have been an unmitigated success.

The same researchers from Dartmouth who discovered NR tested it extensively and found that it boosted NAD and thus reversed the signs of aging and the health issues that come with it: and all without side effects. Currently, clinical trials in humans are ongoing, but we haven’t yet gotten the final word.

NR Supplements

You can find NR in tablet, powder, and capsule form online and in health stores.

The typical recommended dosage is 250-500mg a day. If you hope to take more than this, talk to your doctor first.

You can also find NR naturally in whey protein, Brewer’s yeast, and cow’s milk, but only in small quantities. Be sure to check supplements for the following before you buy:

  • Where the supplement is made (look for countries with stringent supplement regulations)
  • Whether there is any third-party testing to verify amounts of NR in the supplement
  • Whether it has any FDA, NDI, and/or GRAS ratings

NR Side Effects

The good news about NR is that, at normal doses, we have yet to discover any side effects.

Human studies with NR dosages at 100, 300, and 1,000 milligrams over eight weeks showed no side effects. Other studies have tested it up to 2,000 milligrams per day and still found no side effects.

However, it’s important to remember that these studies were limited. There hasn’t been enough time since the original discovery of NR to test what the long-term effects will be of years supplementing with it.

For now, however, it seems perfectly safe to stick with the typical 250-500 mg daily dosage.

NR is a form of vitamin B3 that effectively and efficiently produces NAD, a crucial coenzyme the body needs to regulate every biochemical process. NAD levels drop as we age, so NR holds promise as a potent anti-aging supplement.

As yet, there is no official recommended dosage for NR, but the research suggests it is safe and well-tolerated at the common 250-500mg dosage.

Nicotinamide riboside could be the answer to turning back the clock and preventing biological aging, so check back with TruDiagnostic regularly to learn more about this and other important news in the world of epigenetics.

Have you been taking NR? What effects have you observed? Share it with us in the comments section below.