Nicotinamide Riboside and Vitamin B3 – a new answer to the aging problem?
~ by Karen Lily
(Published 2016 updated Dec 2019, April 2020)
The other day (well actually in 2016), I was adding a new multi-vitamin to Vitamin Inspector, Two Per Day Capsules, from Life Extension, when I came across a relatively new and very interesting nutrient called nicotinamide riboside. It is important because it is metabolised well by humans into NAD+. The molecule NAD+ plays a significant role in keeping our cells healthy.
Since writing this article, Two Per Day Capsules’ formula has changed. It no longer contains nicotinamide riboside. However, it is still relevant because this important nutrient can be purchased as a single supplement.
It is the ability of substances to be converted to NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and NADP (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate) that defines them as Vitamin B3. In other words, it ‘gives them Vitamin B3 activity’. To enable Vitamin Inspector to compare nictotinamide riboside to other nutrients it was necessary to re-evaluate the research and update Vitamin Inspector’s knowledge of this extremely important vitamin.
Types of Vitamin B3
There are 3 known types of Vitamin B3, these are:
- nicotinic acid1
- nicotinamide / niacinamide
- nicotinamide riboside
Most multi’s use nicotinic acid or nicotinamide to provide Vitamin B3. Niagen® by Chromodex is a newer commercially available source of nicotinamide riboside that has been proven to increase NAD+ in humans.
Benefits of NAD+
- Over 400 enzymes need the niacin coenzymes, NAD and NADP
- Used to metabolize food and create energy
- Can neutralise toxins
- Involved in cell signalling/communication
- Involved in DNA repair
Benefits and side effects by Vitamin B3 type
Nicotinamide riboside is metabolized by more than one pathway and generates more NAD+ than the other forms of Vitamin B3. Human trials are not as extensive for nicotinamide riboside as they are for other forms of B3. Therefore trials in mice are recorded below where no human data exists.
(Tip: scroll horizontally to view full table.)
|Conversion to NAD+||Yes||Yes||Best|
|Lower cholesterol||Yes||No||in mice|
|Reduction in heart attacks and strokes||Yes||No||in mice|
|Muscle regeneration||?||?||in mice|
|Liver toxicity at in high doses2||Yes||Yes||not in mice|
|Decrease insulin sensitivity leading to type 2 diabetes at high doses2||Yes||No||not in mice|
As you can see, nicotinamide riboside does not appear to have the undesirable side effects of other B3s from trials in mice.
Is nicotinamide riboside safe for humans?
At least four studies have demonstrated it’s safety in humans. While these trials are not extensive, they are very promising. Here are the results of a double study, completed in 2018.
Chronic nicotinamide riboside supplementation is well-tolerated and elevates NAD+ in healthy middle-aged and older adults
This study was reported in the Journal Nature Communications. It consisted of:
- 2 x 6 week trials in healthy older adults in the USA
- Dose of 500mg twice per day
The results showed:
- Nicotimade riboside stimulated NAD+ metabolism
- Lowered blood pressure
- Reduced the stiffening of arteries
- Was well tolerated and there were no serious adverse events.
Note: The dose tested in the study exceeds the label-recommended dose and has not been confirmed as safe for the general population.
So is nicotinamide riboside the elixir of youth?
What is really exciting about nicotinamide riboside is:
- It seems to be more efficient at producing NAD+ than the other types of vitamin B3, AND
- It does not appear to have the same dose limiting side effects of other types of vitamin B3.
- Studies on mice are very promising. Old mice given nicotinamide riboside experienced muscle regeneration and lived longer than mice that were not given it.
- Small studies on humans have shown it to be safe.
Extensive human trials have not yet verified its safety, so while it is tempting to take large doses, it would be wise to stick to the recommended amounts.
- Niacin: Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand (NRV)
- Niacin: Linus Pauling Institute – Micronutrient Info Center (LPI)
- Results from First Human Clinical Study Demonstrate ChromaDex’s NIAGEN(R) Nicotinamide Riboside Effectively Increases the Co-enzyme NAD+ and is Safe (GlobalNewswire)
- Nicotinamide riboside, a trace nutrient in foods, is a vitamin B3 with effects on energy metabolism and neuroprotection. Chi Y1, Sauve AA. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013 Nov;16(6):657-61. (PubMed)
- Vitamin Stops the aging process of organs (Science Daily)
- B-vitamins and NAD metabolism, or when vitamin B3’s bioavailability is not enough (Research Councils UK)
- A New-and Reversible-Cause of Aging (Harvard Medical School)
- 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 (PubMed)
- The terms niacin and nicotinic acid are often used interchangeably. Vitamin Inspector classifies niacin as a generic name for compounds with Vitamin B3 activity.
- Most reported side effects have been with prolonged usage with doses of more than 3 grams. For more information on safe dosing, see (Mayo Clinic)