Nicotinamide Riboside is a precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, which has a lot of health benefits. It activates sirtuins, which means it is anti-aging and can help support a healthy circadian rhythm. It can also help generate energy in mitochondrial-dense tissues like muscle, brain, and liver. Read more below to learn about its properties.

What is Nicotinamide Riboside?

Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) is a nucleoside made out of niacinamide and ribose. It is a form of Vitamin B3, which is also called niacin or nicotinic acid [1].

It can be found in cow’s milk, brewer’s yeast [2], and whey protein [3, 1].

How Nicotinamide Riboside Derives Its Beneficial Health Effects

1) Readily Converted to NAD+

Nicotinamide riboside is a precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which means it is needed to make NAD+. Most of NR’s health benefits is a result of its formation of NAD+ [4].

By carrying and letting go of electrons, NAD+ is necessary for energy creation in the mitochondria. (Watch this 2-minute video to learn how this works.) Therefore, NAD+ is important for mitochondria health.

2) NAD+ Activates Sirtuins, PARPs, and CD38

NR supplementation increases NAD+, which then activates several enzymes that are important for health, including [5]:

  • Sirtuins, which are anti-aging enzymes
  • PARPs, which repair damaged DNA
  • CD38, a receptor in the immune system which is involved in glucose-induced insulin secretion

Because Sirt1 activates PGC-1alpha, NR supplementation stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis and improves mitochondrial health [6]. Therefore, NR supplementation can support tissues that heavily rely on the mitochondria for energy, including the nervous system, the liver, the heart, and the muscles.

3) Helps Restore Circadian Rhythm

NR can increase NAD+ regardless of NAMPT activity, which helps mitigate the aging effects of poor circadian rhythm entrainment [7].

Testing Your Nicotinamide Levels

You can request that your doctor test your nicotinamide. Conventional doctors will look at high or low nicotinamide levels and not mention anything. Sometimes, a lab result may be in the reference range, but not actually be in the optimal range. Reference ranges are not the same as optimal ranges. This is why even nicotinamide in the ‘normal’ range can be unhealthy and indicate that certain processes in the body aren’t optimal.

Genetics and Nicotinamide Riboside

Nicotinamide levels are influenced by your genes. SelfDecode can help you determine if your levels are high or low as a result of your genes, and then pinpoint what you can do about it. We now offer our own testing kit for users in the United States, but accept many other testing kits.

If you’re sick and tired of guessing about your health, SelfDecode can help you find specific answers that conventional doctors/diagnostics may never uncover.

SelfDecode has the NAMPT gene, which controls NAD+ levels. If your genes are not producing NAMPT as well, that would suggest that you’ll have a higher need for NR.

Check out your SNPs:

  1. RS1319501 (NAMPT)
  2. RS9770242 (NAMPT)

NAD(+) level decrease in aged mice and humans, which is a result of lower NAMPT [8].

Health Benefits of Nicotinamide Riboside

1) Helps Muscle Function

NR administration rapidly restored muscle mass. Additionally, it preserved muscle NAD levels and exercise capacity in older mice, helping maintain muscle mass and function [4].

Mitochondrial myopathy is a disease where the mitochondria in muscle cells are damaged. It can cause muscle weakness and other problems [9].

Oral administration of NR in mice delayed myopathy progression by preventing mitochondrial abnormalities. NR supplementation reduced NAD+ consumption, which improved mitochondrial function [9].

NR also stimulated mitochondrial unfolded protein response, which protects against mitochondrial disease [10].

2) Helps Fight Against Cancer

NR can be used to generally limit tumor growth in mice with high levels of oxidative stress [11].

Low levels of NAD+ synthesis can cause DNA damage. NR supplementation increases NAD+ levels, which can help protect against DNA damage, oxidative damage, and tumor progression [12].

3) Reduces Diabetic Symptoms

In prediabetic mice, NR supplementation improved glucose tolerance, reduced weight gain, and reduced liver damage. In Type 2 diabetic mice, NR greatly reduced blood glucose and protected against diabetic nerve problems [1314].

4) Protects the Brain

Proper NAD metabolism can help protect the brain. NR protects the nerve cells in the brain by activating the SIRT3 [15] and PGC1a [16] pathways.

NR can also delay axonal degeneration, which can preserve nerve cells. Supplementation stimulates the NAD pathways and helps prevent degeneration in the brain [17].

NR improved cognitive function and slowed the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in mice given NR for 3 months [18].

5) Protects the Liver

Oral administration of NR naturally increases NAD in the body, which helps protect the liver [8].

NR stopped fat accumulation, lowered oxidative stress, prevented inflammation, and improved insulin sensitivity in the liver of mice [8].

6) Prevents Hearing Loss

Administration of NR, even after noise exposure, prevents noise-induced hearing loss in mice. It reduces the degeneration of nerve cells caused by noise exposure [19].

SIRT3 mediates these effects [19].

7) Increases Metabolism

In mice, supplementation of NR (400mg/kg) increased NAD+ levels in muscles, which increased their energy use and metabolism [1].

8) May Help with Weight Loss

NR may increase enzymes involved in burning fat (sirtuin enzymes), and energy expenditure thus helping with weight loss [20].

9) Increases Longevity

NR increases the amount of NAD in the body, which can help reprogram dysfunctional cells. These combined effects can help increase longevity in mammals [21].

NR induced the mitochondrial unfolded protein response and synthesis of prohibitin proteins, and this rejuvenated stem cells in aged mice [21].

Nicotinamide Riboside Protects The Mitochondria

The nucleus and mitochondria can both metabolize NR.

Its supplementation raises the nuclear and mitochondrial NAD+ levels, thereby activating nuclear SIRT1 and mitochondrial SIRT3 respectively [9].

These pathways boost mitochondrial function.

Supplementing with Nicotinamide Riboside

Food Sources of Nicotinamide Riboside

Cautions / Side Effects

In mice, NR supplementation worsens exercise performance. They had a lower physical performance compared to the control group [22].

“The NR group showed a tendency towards worse physical performance by 35% compared to the control group at the final 10% load (P = 0.071)”[22].


Nicotinamide riboside is a naturally occurring form of vitamin B3. There was no risk of death at an oral dose of 5,000 mg/kg [23].

The lowest adverse effect level on organs for NR was 1,000 mg/kg/day, and the no adverse effect level was 300 mg/kg/day [23].

My Experience With Nicotinamide Riboside

When I take NR, I feel a noticeable increase in energy. I need to take about 6 pills to notice it unequivocally. However, I like to take two pills a day for the long term and cycle it (take breaks).

I take it to improve mitochondrial function and to increase the amplitude of my circadian rhythm.

Note: Circadian rhythm amplitude describes the fluctuations of cellular production that coordinate with the day-night cycle. A poor circadian rhythm will lower the NAMPT enzyme, which results in lower NAD+ levels.

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