Can nicotinamide riboside improve cognitive function?

The search for better cognitive function has grown more common in the modern world. A potential approach for improving cognitive abilities is nicotinamide riboside (NR), a kind of vitamin B3. 

NR serves as a precursor for the coenzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), essential for energy metabolism. 

It may help to increase neuroplasticity, memory, support executive functions, prevent cognitive decline, reduce neuroinflammation and promote mitochondrial function, among other things. 

For dealing with cognitive decline and maximizing brain health in the present day, it is crucial to understand the processes and possibilities of NR in cognitive improvement. 

This page examines the science of NR, its effects on cognitive performance, pertinent research, safety considerations and possible uses.

What is cognitive function?

The mental processes and skills needed to gather, analyze, store and use information are called cognitive functions. 

It covers a range of mental processes, such as perception, attention, memory, language, decision-making, problem-solving and reasoning. 

Our everyday lives depend heavily on cognitive function since it affects our capacity to learn, communicate, adapt and carry out activities efficiently [1].

Genetics, environmental impacts, lifestyle factors (such as nutrition, exercise and sleep), mental health and age are important variables that affect cognitive function. 

While everyone’s cognitive abilities naturally differ, maintaining optimal cognitive function is crucial for general wellbeing and quality of life.

By examining the complexities of cognitive function, we may better understand how therapies like Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) may potentially improve cognitive capacities.

What is nicotinamide riboside?

A type of vitamin B3 known as nicotinamide riboside (NR) has drawn interest due to its possible effects on a number of health conditions, including cognitive function. 

It is crucial to investigate the underlying scientific mechanisms at play in order to comprehend how NR may impact cognitive ability.

NR serves as a precursor for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), an essential coenzyme in the body’s various enzymatic activities and cellular energy metabolism. 

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main source of energy for cells, is produced via processes such as glycolysis, the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and oxidative phosphorylation, all of which need NAD+ [2].

According to research, NR supplementation can raise NAD+ levels in cells, facilitating the synthesis of energy and improving mitochondrial function. 

The powerhouses of cells, mitochondria are in charge of generating ATP and controlling cellular energy. 

NR may maximize energy generation in the brain, which is essential for preserving cognitive function, by promoting mitochondrial activity.

Additionally, NAD+ controls a number of cellular functions, such as gene expression, DNA repair, and keeping oxidative stress in check. 

These procedures are essential for maintaining cellular health and may support normal brain development and cognitive ability.

NR has been discovered to activate certain proteins known as sirtuins in addition to its function in energy metabolism and cellular functions. 

Sirtuins have a role in controlling cellular aging, inflammation and stress responses. 

NAD+ supplementation may have neuroprotective benefits and promote brain health when sirtuins are activated.

The improvement of energy metabolism, mitochondrial function and cellular processes including DNA repair and inflammatory control are possible paths through which NR may affect cognitive ability, while the precise mechanisms by which NR improves cognitive function are currently under study.

What is the role of nicotinamide riboside in improving cognitive function?

Exploration of the fascinating relationship between Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) and cognitive performance is ongoing. 

While further research is required to draw a firm conclusion, a number of processes and circumstances point to a possible connection between NR and cognitive ability.

Energy metabolism

The coenzyme NAD+, which is essential for cellular energy metabolism, is a precursor of NR. 

Numerous metabolic activities, such as glycolysis, the TCA cycle and oxidative phosphorylation, depend on NAD+. 

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main energy source for cells including brain cells, is produced by these mechanisms. 

By increasing NAD+ levels, NR supplementation may improve brain energy generation, supplying the resources required for the best possible cognitive performance.

Mitochondrial function

The powerhouses of cells, mitochondria, are in charge of ATP production. 

By fostering biogenesis, improving mitochondrial respiration and guarding against mitochondrial malfunction, NR has been demonstrated to support mitochondrial function. 

NR may enhance brain energy generation by enhancing mitochondrial activity, which is essential for preserving cognition and general brain health [3].



The term “neuroplasticity” describes the brain’s capacity to adapt, reorganize, and create new connections between neurons. It is crucial to memory, cognitive flexibility and learning. 

The promotion of synaptic plasticity, neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons) and dendritic branching by NR has been indicated in studies to increase neuroplasticity. 

Improved cognitive performance may result from these effects, making it easier for neurons to communicate and build new synaptic connections.


It is possible that NR has neuroprotective properties since it activates sirtuins, a class of proteins implicated in cellular stress responses and lifespan. 

Sirtuins are essential for cellular health maintenance and defense against numerous types of cellular stress, including oxidative stress and inflammation. 

By triggering sirtuins, NR may assist in safeguarding brain tissue from oxidative stress-related damage, lessen neuroinflammation and advance general brain health, all of which improve cognitive performance.

Inflammation modulation

It has been suggested that neurodegenerative conditions and cognitive loss are both caused by chronic inflammation in the brain. 

Researchers have discovered that NR has anti-inflammatory qualities and can lessen neuroinflammation. 

NR may lessen the detrimental effects of chronic inflammation on cognitive performance by reducing inflammation. 

A healthy brain environment and the preservation of cognitive capacities may both be supported by reducing neuroinflammation.

What are the potential neuroprotective agents of nicotinamide riboside?

A growing body of research suggests that nicotinamide riboside (NR) has the potential to act as a neuroprotective agent by preventing brain damage and enhancing cognitive function. 

The neuroprotective benefits of NR are mediated by various pathways, making this a fascinating subject for future brain health studies.

Let us examine the potential neuroprotective agents of NR:

Activation of sirtuins

The activation of sirtuins, a class of proteins implicated in cellular stress responses and lifespan, has been shown in response to NR supplementation

Sirtuins are essential for cellular health maintenance as they control several activities, such as DNA repair, inflammation and oxidative stress. 

NR may improve the brain’s capacity to resist stress and defend against neuronal damage by triggering sirtuins. 

Improvements in cognitive performance and better resistance to neurodegenerative diseases have been linked to this activation.

Antioxidant effects

NR has antioxidant capabilities, which means it can minimize oxidative stress and absorb harmful free radicals. 

When the body’s antioxidant defense system and the creation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) are out of balance, oxidative stress results. 

Cellular damage and neurological disorders can result from excessive oxidative stress. 

The antioxidant properties of NR may aid in preventing brain cells from suffering oxidative damage, preserving their structural integrity and ensuring normal operation. 

NR may improve neuronal health and assist cognitive function by lowering oxidative stress.

Inflammation modulation

Cognitive decline and neurodegenerative conditions are linked to chronic brain inflammation, often known as neuroinflammation.  

NR has been discovered to have anti-inflammatory properties in inhibiting the production of inflammatory molecules and markers in the brain. 

Moreover, NR may contribute to reducing the side effects of neuroinflammation and advancing brain health by controlling inflammation. 

By lowering inflammation, NR may help to maintain cognitive function and offer protection from neurodegenerative diseases.

inflammation modulation

Mitochondrial support

The function of the mitochondria, which is essential for producing energy and preserving cellular health, is supported by NR supplementation. 

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of cells including brain cells, is produced by mitochondria. 

The cognitive loss brought on by aging and neurodegenerative illnesses are linked to mitochondrial malfunction. 

The potential of NR to promote mitochondrial health may help prevent mitochondrial deterioration, keep brain cells producing energy at their peak levels, and sustain cognitive function [4].

What are the potential safety concerns side effects of nicotinamide riboside?

Although Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) has the potential to be a neuroprotective and cognitive enhancer, it is crucial to take into account its safety profile and any possible side effects. 

Here are some key point to consider:

Generally recognized as safe (GRAS)

The U.S. has decided that NR is Generally Recognized as Safe. FDA, the Food and Drug Administration. 

According to this categorization, when taken as a dietary supplement, NR is considered safe for human consumption. 

The long-term consequences of NR supplementation are still being researched, and different people may respond differently.

Limited research on long-term use

While NR has been the subject of studies examining its safety for short-term usage, there is a lack of comprehensive research on its safety for long-term use. 

The majority of studies conducted so far have been brief, lasting from a few weeks to a few months on average. 

To completely comprehend the possible dangers and advantages of long term NR supplementation, more study is required.

Reported side effects

NR supplementation has typically been well tolerated with little negative effects in clinical research and anecdotal accounts. 

However, a few people have mentioned experiencing moderate gastrointestinal problems including nausea, diarrhea or abdominal pain. 

Usually temporary, these side effects go away on their own without treatment.

Precautions and drug interactions

As with any supplement, it is crucial to use caution and speak with a doctor before starting NR supplementation, especially if you have any underlying medical issues or are on any drugs. 

Some medicines, such as those that influence blood sugar levels or those that are processed by specific enzymes, may interact with NR. 

Personalized advice based on your unique health conditions can be provided by your healthcare professional.


The prospective benefits of NR as a neuroprotective and cognitive enhancer are promising. 

While further study is needed, early results indicate that NR supplementation may enhance cognitive function and guard against neurodegenerative diseases. 

However, further research is needed to determine the best NR dosage and long-term safety. 

Before starting NR supplementation, you should speak with a healthcare practitioner and keep an eye on individuals’ responses. 

As more information on NR’s effects becomes available, it will be possible to use it safely and effectively for improving cognition and maintaining brain health.


Does NAD help brain function?

Yes, NAD (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) is thought to support brain activity. It is vital for the proper functioning of mitochondria, cellular functions, and energy metabolism in the brain. NAD may help to enhance brain function in general and cognitive function by supporting these pathways.

Is nicotinamide riboside good for the brain?

The brain may benefit from nicotinamide riboside (NR), which has been studied. It could improve mitochondrial performance, boost cognitive function, encourage neuroplasticity, and offer neuroprotection. While additional study is required, NR supplementation shows promise as a potential brain protector and cognitive enhancer.

Are there any side effects of NR?

Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) supplementation is generally well-tolerated with minimal reported side effects. Some individuals may experience mild gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, or abdominal discomfort. However, these side effects are typically transient and resolve independently without intervention.


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