Nicotinamide riboside (NR) – Benefits, side-effects and dosage

Often termed a ‘miracle molecule,’ nicotinamide riboside (NR) is a vitamin B3 analog that has gained significant attention in the scientific community for its role in promoting cellular health and possibly slowing down the aging process. 

However, like all health supplements, it is essential to understand what it is, its origins, the associated benefits, potential side effects, and appropriate dosage before incorporating it into your daily regimen.

This comprehensive guide offers you the knowledge to make an informed decision about this powerful supplement.

From its health-boosting properties to the scientific evidence supporting its use, we’ll deeply dive into all aspects of NR, providing you with a well-rounded understanding of this potent compound. 

So, whether you’re a wellness enthusiast or curious about NR, this guide promises to cater to all your queries.

What is nicotinamide riboside?

Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) is a naturally occurring form of vitamin B3, a crucial nutrient in various foods, including milk, yeast, and certain vegetables [1].

Often recognized as a “miracle molecule,” NR is vital in maintaining overall health and well-being.

The importance of NR lies in its function as a precursor to Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+), a coenzyme present in every cell of our bodies. 

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NAD+ is essential for various biological processes such as energy production, DNA repair, cell survival, and even the regulation of circadian rhythms.

As we age, the NAD+ levels in our bodies begin to decline. This can lead to cellular aging, metabolic disorders, and other health problems. 

NR supplementation is considered a powerful strategy to boost NAD+ levels in the body, promoting cellular health, improving energy metabolism, and potentially slowing down aging.

However, while NR presents promising benefits, it is essential to understand its potential side effects and the correct dosage to ensure safety and efficacy. 

The origin and development of NR

Nicotinamide Riboside was first discovered in the early 20th century when scientists explored milk components. They identified a unique compound known as NR [2]. 

However, it was only in the 21st century that its remarkable properties and potential benefits were fully recognized.

In 2004, a significant breakthrough in NR research occurred when Dr. Charles Brenner, a renowned biochemist, discovered that NR was not just a form of vitamin B3 but also a potent precursor to the vital coenzyme, Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+) [3]. This discovery catapulted NR to the forefront of anti-aging and cellular health research.

Brenner and his team further identified that NR could be converted into NAD+ more efficiently than other NAD+ precursors. 

This property made NR a promising candidate for addressing the age-related decline in NAD+ levels, an issue linked with various health problems such as metabolic disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and the overall process of aging.

Since this groundbreaking discovery, numerous research initiatives have been undertaken to understand the full potential of NR. 

Various scientific studies have focused on its possible benefits for cellular health, brain function, metabolic regulation, and longevity. 

Meanwhile, NR’s safety, side effects, and appropriate dosage are also being explored to ensure this powerful supplement can be effectively used in daily health regimes.

The origin and development of NR

What are the health benefits of Nicotinamide Riboside?

NR has come under the scientific spotlight due to its many potential health benefits. By boosting NAD+ levels in the body, NR is a potent supplement capable of enhancing various aspects of human health.

1. Enhances cellular health

NR is a precursor to NAD+, a coenzyme that plays a crucial role in cellular metabolism and energy production. 

It’s a linchpin molecule that connects our diet with our cellular health, transferring the energy from the food we eat into a form that cells can use to perform vital functions.

As we age, the levels of NAD+ in our body start to decline naturally, leading to a decrease in cellular energy production and overall function. This process is linked with various signs of aging and age-related diseases [4].

As a precursor to NAD+, NR can effectively increase the body’s NAD+ levels, potentially reversing the age-related decline in cellular health.

Doing so improves energy metabolism at the cellular level, helping cells function optimally, repair themselves, and resist stress more effectively.

2. Promotes longevity

The aging process is a complex phenomenon involving numerous cellular changes. A vital component of these changes is decreased Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+) levels in our bodies as we age. NAD+ is essential for maintaining cellular function, repairing DNA, and overall cellular health.

As a potent precursor to NAD+, NR has demonstrated promising potential in addressing age-related decline in cellular health. By boosting NAD+ levels, NR may effectively combat the aging process at the cellular level.

Research shows that NR supplementation can restore NAD+ levels in older cells to those comparable to younger cells, thereby improving their function and vitality.

This can lead to a delay in the onset of age-related physiological changes and contribute to overall longevity.

Furthermore, NR’s role in promoting DNA repair is critical in the context of aging. As we age, our cells’ ability to repair DNA damage decreases, which can lead to cell death and contribute to aging and age-related diseases. By boosting NAD+ levels, NR enhances the cells’ ability to repair DNA, potentially slowing the aging process.

It’s also worth noting that NR’s potential anti-aging effects extend beyond cellular health. Studies suggest that it may contribute to improved brain function, cardiovascular health, and metabolic regulation – all crucial to maintaining health and vitality as we age.

3. Improves brain health

As NAD+ levels naturally decline with age, the capacity of neurons to function optimally and resist stress can decrease, potentially leading to neurodegenerative diseases.

As a potent NAD+ precursor, NR can help replenish the dwindling NAD+ levels, potentially benefiting brain health in several ways.

  • Neuroprotection: Studies suggest that NR can protect neurons from damage and degeneration. By increasing NAD+ levels, NR helps bolster the energy metabolism of brain cells, making them more resistant to stress and less prone to degeneration.
  • Cognitive function: NR may support cognitive function by improving cellular health and energy production in brain cells. Preliminary research suggests that NR supplementation can enhance memory and learning abilities, though more human studies are needed in this area.
  • Brain aging: As we age, decreased NAD+ levels can lead to diminished brain function and increased susceptibility to neurodegenerative diseases. By boosting NAD+ levels, NR may slow brain aging and support healthy brain function in older adults.

4. Enhances metabolic rate

NR’s potential in boosting metabolism is primarily due to its ability to increase NAD) levels in the body, which helps convert the food we eat into energy, thereby playing a critical role in regulating metabolism.

As we age, NAD+ levels naturally decrease, which can lead to a decrease in metabolic efficiency. This decline in metabolic rate can contribute to weight gain and difficulties in losing weight.

By boosting NAD+ levels, NR can enhance metabolic function, leading to more efficient energy usage and potentially aiding in weight management.

Moreover, some studies suggest that NR supplementation could activate sirtuins, a protein group that regulates cellular health and metabolism [5]. This activation could further enhance metabolic function and potentially support weight loss.

However, while the potential of NR in metabolism and weight loss is promising, it’s essential to understand that NR is not a magic bullet for weight loss.

The effectiveness of NR supplementation for weight loss will also depend on other factors such as diet, physical activity, and overall lifestyle.

5. Boosts heart health

The heart is a highly active organ that requires constant energy to function optimally. NAD+ plays a crucial role in energy production in heart cells, and a decline in NAD+ levels, particularly with aging, can impact heart function.

By boosting NAD+ levels, NR may help maintain heart health in several ways:

  • Promotes energy metabolism: By increasing NAD+ levels, NR helps enhance energy production in heart cells, allowing the heart to function efficiently.
  • Improves blood flow: Some research suggests that NR could improve blood flow and vascular health, which are critical for maintaining heart health.
  • Reduces cardiovascular risks: Preliminary studies suggest that NR could help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by improving cholesterol levels and reducing inflammation, both of which are key risk factors for heart disease.

6. Supports exercise performance and recovery

Exercise enthusiasts and athletes are constantly seeking ways to optimize their performance and enhance their recovery processes.

NR has gained attention in the fitness and sports communities due to its potential to impact exercise performance and recovery positively.

NR plays a vital role in supporting mitochondrial function by increasing NAD+ levels. This, in turn, can lead to more efficient energy production during exercise.

Also, NR supplementation may help improve endurance levels during aerobic and anaerobic activities.

By supporting optimal mitochondrial function, NR can delay the onset of fatigue and extend the time an individual can sustain physical effort.

After intense exercise, the body undergoes various stress responses, including oxidative stress and inflammation.

NR’s ability to enhance NAD+ levels may contribute to a faster post-exercise recovery by aiding cellular repair and reducing oxidative damage.

Moreover, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is common after strenuous workouts. NR’s potential to mitigate inflammation and support cellular repair may help reduce the severity and duration of muscle soreness, allowing individuals to return to training more quickly.

7. Promotes weight management

NR plays a crucial role in the production of NAD+ in cells. NAD+ is involved in various metabolic processes related to energy production and utilization.

By enhancing NAD+ levels, NR may support a more efficient metabolism, potentially leading to increased energy expenditure.

While research is ongoing, some evidence suggests that NR may influence appetite regulation.

NR’s effects on metabolism and cellular signaling pathways may help individuals better control their hunger and food cravings, potentially aiding in weight management.

It’s important to emphasize that NR should be considered part of a broader approach to weight management.

Combining NR supplementation with a balanced diet and regular physical activity will likely yield the most significant benefits.

Before incorporating NR into a weight management plan, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian who can provide personalized guidance. 

What are the common nicotinamide riboside side effects?

While nicotinamide riboside has shown promising health benefits, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects, particularly when considering a new supplement. 

Most studies indicate that NR is well-tolerated and safe for consumption at recommended dosages [6]. However, like any substance, it may cause side effects in some individuals.

Here are some common side effects reported in studies and by users of NR:

1. Nausea and digestive issues

Some users have reported nausea or a mild upset stomach after taking NR, especially when starting the supplementation.

2. Fatigue and weakness

Though NR enhances cellular energy, some people have reported fatigue or weakness. This side effect is temporary as the body adjusts to the supplement.

3. Headaches

Some users have experienced headaches after starting NR supplementation. In most cases, these are mild and decrease over time.

4. Insomnia

A few reports of sleep disturbances or insomnia are associated with NR, particularly when taken later in the day.

5. Flushing

Like other forms of vitamin B3, NR can sometimes cause flushing – a warm sensation and reddening of the skin. This is typically harmless and temporary.

It’s important to note that these side effects are generally mild and temporary, and many people do not experience any side effects. If you experience side effects, reducing the dosage or consulting with a healthcare professional is advisable.

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Are there adverse severe reactions to nicotinamide riboside?

Generally, NR is well-tolerated, with most reported side effects being mild and temporary, but it’s important to explore the possibility of severe adverse reactions.

Certain individuals may have unique responses, as with any supplement, and it’s essential to be aware of potential risks.

No serious adverse reactions have been directly linked to NR in most scientific literature. However, because the research on NR is still relatively new and long-term studies are limited, it’s possible that we are not fully aware of all potential adverse reactions, especially over an extended period of use.

A few considerations should be noted:

1. Interactions with medications

While no specific medication interactions have been documented for NR, it’s always possible that a supplement could interact with prescription or over-the-counter drugs. If you’re currently taking medication, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional before starting NR.

2. Pregnancy and breastfeeding

There’s a lack of safety data on using NR during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Until more is known, it’s recommended that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding avoid NR supplementation.

3. Underlying health conditions

Individuals with specific health conditions, such as liver disease or diabetes, should consult a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement, including NR.

4. High dosages

Most studies have used moderate dosages of NR. It’s generally well-tolerated at these levels. However, the safety of high-dose NR supplementation over a long period is still unclear.

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What’s the recommended daily intake of NR?

Currently, there is no universally agreed-upon recommended daily intake for NR. This is partly because research on NR is still ongoing, and the optimal dosage may vary depending on several factors, including: 

Age

Since NAD+ levels naturally decrease, older adults may benefit from a higher dosage than younger adults.

Health status

Certain health conditions, especially those associated with inflammation or metabolic dysregulation, can lead to a faster decline in NAD+ levels and may require a higher dosage of NR.

Physical activity levels

Active individuals and athletes may have higher metabolic needs and, therefore may benefit from higher dosages of NR to support cellular energy production.

Diet

Certain nutrients, like tryptophan, can be converted into NAD+. People who lack these nutrients in their diet might benefit from NR supplementation.

Lifestyle factors

Chronic stress, lack of sleep, or excessive alcohol consumption can deplete NAD+ levels. Individuals with these lifestyle factors might require a higher dosage of NR.

Genetic factors

Genetic variations can influence how effectively the body converts NR into NAD+. Some people may naturally be more efficient at this process and, therefore, might require a lower dosage of NR.

Goal of supplementation

The optimal dosage can also depend on the specific health goals of NR supplementation, like enhancing cognitive function, boosting energy levels, supporting cardiovascular health, or slowing aging processes.

Most clinical studies on NR have used doses ranging from 100mg to 1000mg daily. A commonly used dosage in human studies is 300mg per day, which has been observed to increase NAD+ levels safely in healthy adults.

However, it’s important to note that just because a specific dosage is used in research does not automatically mean it’s the best dosage for everyone.

Individuals may respond differently to NR, and what works well for one person may not work well for another.

It’s also worth noting that taking a higher dose does not necessarily lead to better results. Some research suggests that the body’s ability to convert NR into NAD+ might decrease with higher doses, meaning that taking more NR does not always lead to higher levels of NAD+.

Given these considerations, starting with a lower dose and gradually increasing it if needed is necessary while closely monitoring how your body reacts. 

Any supplementation changes should be under a healthcare professional’s guidance.

Practical tips on taking NR supplements

Adding Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) to your daily regimen can be a simple and effective way to support your overall health.

However, to ensure you get the most benefit from this supplement and use it safely, consider the following practical tips:

1. Consult your healthcare provider

Before starting any new supplement, including NR,  your healthcare provider, they can provide personalized advice based on your health status and needs.

2. Start with a lower dosage

Start with a lower dose of NR and gradually increase if needed. This approach can help minimize potential side effects and allows you to gauge your body’s response to the supplement.

3. Keep consistent timing

Try to take your NR supplement at the same time each day. This can help maintain steady levels of NAD+ in your body.

4. Consider your diet

NR can be taken with or without food. However, some people report fewer side effects when taking NR with a meal. Experiment to see what works best for you.

5. Listen to your body

Pay attention to how your body responds to NR. If you notice any adverse reactions or side effects.

6. Choose high-quality products

Not all NR supplements are created equal. Look for a product from a reputable manufacturer that provides transparency about its ingredients and production processes.

7. Be patient

The benefits of NR supplementation may not be immediately noticeable, as it can take time for your body’s NAD+ levels to increase. Be patient and consistent with your regimen.

How to choose the right nicotinamide riboside supplement?

To ensure that you’re buying a high-quality product that’s safe and effective, consider the following factors:

  • Quality of ingredients: Check for pure, high-quality NR. The product should contain no unnecessary fillers or additives.
  • Dosage: Look for a product that offers flexibility in dosage. A 300mg per serving product can benefit some individuals, but lower doses might be more appropriate.
  • Manufacturing standards: Choose a product produced in a facility that follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). This ensures the product is made to a high quality and safety standard.
  • Third-party testing: Products tested and verified by an independent third party for purity and potency can provide additional assurance about their quality.
  • Brand reputation: Do some research on the brand. Established brands with good reputations are often more reliable.
  • Value for money: While price shouldn’t be the only deciding factor, it’s worth considering the cost per serving. Some products may seem cheaper, but they may not provide good value for money if the recommended dosage is higher.
  • Customer reviews: Reviews from other customers can provide valuable insights into the product’s effectiveness and any potential side effects.
  • Claims: Be wary of products that make unrealistic claims. No supplement, including NR, is a miracle cure.
  • Certifications: Check for any relevant certifications, such as being non-GMO, vegan, or allergen-free, depending on your personal needs and preferences.
How to choose the right nicotinamide riboside supplement?

Closing thoughts

Nicotinamide Riboside represents an exciting frontier in health and wellness, offering a promising tool to support our cellular health and combat the effects of aging. 

However, as with all supplements, it’s not a silver bullet. Instead, NR should be viewed as a part of a holistic approach to health that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and good stress management.

FAQs

What is nicotinamide riboside good for?

Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is good for supporting cellular health and may have benefits related to anti-aging, metabolic health, cognitive function, and exercise performance.

What are the side effects of nicotinamide riboside NR?

While generally safe, NAD+ supplements can cause side effects like nausea, fatigue, headache, and indigestion in some individuals. The safety of long-term use and high-dose supplementation is still under study, so always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

Is NR the same as B3?

NR is not the same as B3 (niacin), but it is a precursor to NAD+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide), which is a coenzyme related to B3 and plays a role in various biological processes.

What is NR in a vitamin supplement?

In a vitamin supplement, NR is typically included as a form of vitamin B3 (niacin) to support NAD+ production and promote overall cellular health.

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[1] https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1560/nicotinamide-riboside
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotinamide_riboside 
[3] https://brenner.lab.uiowa.edu/current-projects/nicotinamide-riboside-discovery-human-translation 
[4] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/nicotinamide-riboside
[5] https://www.thorne.com/take-5-daily/article/five-ways-you-can-benefit-from-supplementing-with-nicotinamide-riboside-nr
[6] https://www.lifespan.io/topic/nicotinamide-riboside/

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