Nicotinamide Riboside and Vitamin B3 – a new answer to the aging problem?

~ by Karen Lily (Article written 2016 – updated 2019)

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

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.

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.)

EffectNicotinic
acid
NicotinamideNicotinamide
Riboside
Conversion to NAD+YesYesBest
Pellagra preventionYesYes?
Lower cholesterolYesNoin mice
Reduction in heart attacks and strokesYesNoin mice
Muscle regeneration??in mice
Cause flushingYesrareNo
Liver toxicity at in high doses2YesYesnot in mice
Decrease insulin sensitivity leading to type 2 diabetes at high doses2YesNonot in mice

As you can see, nicotinamide riboside does not appear to have the undesirable side effects of other B3s from trials in mice.

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. 

Studies on mice are very promising. Old mice given nicotinamide riboside experienced muscle regeneration and lived longer than mice that were not given it.

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.

References

  1. Niacin: Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand (NRV)
  2. Niacin: Linus Pauling Institute – Micronutrient Info Center (LPI)
  3. Results from First Human Clinical Study Demonstrate ChromaDex’s NIAGEN(R) Nicotinamide Riboside Effectively Increases the Co-enzyme NAD+ and is Safe (GlobalNewswire)
  4. 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)
  5. Vitamin Stops the aging process of organs (Science Daily)
  6. B-vitamins and NAD metabolism, or when vitamin B3’s bioavailability is not enough (Research Councils UK)
  7. A New-and Reversible-Cause of Aging (Harvard Medical School)

Footnotes

  1. The terms niacin and nicotinic acid are often used interchangeably. Vitamin Inspector classifies niacin as a generic name for compounds with Vitamin B3 activity.
  2. 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)

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