Q: What is nicotinamide riboside? And why is it important?
Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is a form of vitamin B3 (niacin). Like other forms of vitamin B3, nicotinamide riboside is converted by the body into nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). NAD+ is a coenzyme found in every cell in your body and is involved in countless biological processes. It helps turn nutrients into energy and is a vital helper molecule for the proteins that regulate other cellular functions. NAD+ supports many processes, including:
- Converting glucose and other nutrients into energy
- Repairing damaged DNA
- Supporting cells’ defense systems
- Regulating the sleep/wake cycle
Q: Why would a health professional recommend NR?
Nicotinamide riboside is important for supporting healthy aging, metabolism, and body composition.* A healthy body composition has a lower percentage of body fat and a higher percentage of non-fat mass, which includes muscle, bones, and organs.
A health professional might recommend NR to someone who wants to be proactive with respect to biological aging.* It might also be an important consideration for patients who are struggling to manage their weight or improve body composition.* NR might also be recommended for an older patient whose level of NAD+ could be depleted.*
Q: How much NR should someone take and for how long?
It’s really about the level of NAD+ in the body. As people age, NAD+ levels decrease. For a younger person who wants to start the healthy aging process early, a lower amount of NR is likely sufficient. A higher amount of NR might be the best choice for an aging person, athletes, and individuals with a specific condition requiring more robust support of their NAD+ levels.*
Because of the numerous benefits for healthy aging and general wellness, NR supplementation appears to be appropriate for long-term, or even indefinite, daily use.*
Q: Who benefits the most from NR supplementation? Is there anyone who shouldn’t take it?
Currently, research data indicates that maintaining a normal NAD+ level is a good goal for anyone interested in supporting healthy aging.* Along with living a healthy lifestyle, supplementing with NR might be particularly beneficial for athletes, as well as individuals struggling to reach a healthy body weight and composition.*
Because there isn't enough data to demonstrate absolute safety, it is best to avoid NR supplementation if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Q: What are the indications that NR supplementation is working?
Building up the NAD+ level in your body doesn’t have a specific physical sensation, so you might not “feel” anything. The positive effects on cellular energy production and cellular metabolism might be noticeable by changes in focus, feeling more energetic, or shifts in body composition.* Some individuals report a feeling of increased clarity or elevated mood.*
Q: Are NR and vitamin B3 the same thing?
Vitamin B3 (niacin), is a water-soluble vitamin the body uses to form the nicotinamide coenzyme, NAD+. Nicotinamide riboside is a form of vitamin B3. Although niacin, niacinamide, and other forms of vitamin B3 can raise levels of NAD+, none of them does so as efficiently as nicotinamide riboside.*
Q: Is there such a thing as too much NR?
Nicotinamide riboside supplementation has been studied in amounts of 1,000-2,000 mg daily with no harmful effects and few, if any, adverse side effects. Like all members of the vitamin B3 family, NR has a good safety profile and is generally considered safe.
Q: Are there natural ways to increase NAD+ in the body? Are there times when an NR supplement might be better?
Many of the wellness strategies and habits that support a healthy lifestyle will help increase NAD+ in the body. Getting adequate exercise, intermittent fasting, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding physical stressors like toxins and excess sun exposure can increase NAD+.
But sometimes it’s difficult to stick to healthy living best practices, and this is when an NR supplement might help. Also, if NAD+ is already depleted due to age or health status, NR supplementation might be the most effective method for increasing NAD+.*
If you’re really looking to pre-emptively defend against biological aging, then the best method could be a combination of living a healthy lifestyle and targeted nutritional supplementation.
Q: Are there other supplements that should be taken with NR?
As NAD+ does its work in the cells, it can reduce the methyl groups in the body. (Methyl groups benefit many biochemical reactions in the body.) Therefore, supplementing with NR can deplete the level of methyl groups in the body as NAD+ is processed.
This is particularly true for individuals who have a genetic mutation that impairs methylation, like those with the MTHFR gene mutation. For this reason, you might need to supplement with a methyl "donor" while supplementing with NR.* Common methyl donors include methyl-folate, methyl-B12, and trimethylglycine (also called betaine).
It's important to consult a licensed health-care professional before starting any supplement regimen, especially if you are pregnant or have any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions.