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Nicotinamide Riboside (NR): Benefits and Side Effects

A healthy woman smiles joyfully while enjoying life outdoors, symbolizing the positive effects of nicotinamide riboside supplements on well-being.

In this article:

What is NR | NR Benefits | Side Effects | (NR) Supplements | Dosage | NR vs NMN | Food Sources | Conclusion | FAQ

Introduction

Getting older is a fact of life, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. When you take care of yourself and your mental and physical health, age really does become just a number. But eating well, staying active, and prioritising yourself are just parts of the process. If you’re really serious about looking your healthiest as each birthday passes, you should go that extra mile, and one way to do it is by taking the right supplements.

Over the years, nicotinamide riboside has become all the rage when it comes to anti-aging processes. The reason it’s become so popular is that the supplement helps reverse signs of aging from inside your body. And, as we know, that’s the key to healthy aging!

In the article below, you’ll learn everything you need to know about nicotinamide riboside supplements, as well as their benefits and usage.

What is Nicotinamide Riboside (NR)?

Nicotinamide may sound like something from a science book, but it’s actually one of the most common forms of niacin, or vitamin B3, that’s included in supplements. Like other vitamin B3 forms, your body transforms nicotinamide riboside into nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). This coenzyme is incredibly important for hundreds of different processes in our bodies, including DNA repair, immune cell function, and maintaining healthy aging.

Related: Everything you need to know about NAD+

What Does Nicotinamide Riboside Do?

If you’ve heard about the supplement, you might be wondering, what does nicotinamide riboside do,  and what makes it so special? Well, it’s nearly impossible to list all of its perks.

The supplement is crucial for our body to produce sufficient amounts of NAD+, which consequently plays a huge role in our health and well-being.

In fact, the coenzyme is responsible for reducing oxidative stress, helping with circadian rhythm (our sleep/wake cycles), handling inflammatory responses, repairing damaged DNA, transforming food into energy and more. Furthermore, if your body lacks NAD+, there’s an increased risk of encountering one of these health issues:

  • Neurodegenerative diseases (including Alzheimer’s disease)
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Metabolic syndrome (which can lead to heart disease and other problems)

Nicotinamide Riboside Benefits

Recently, nicotinamide riboside (NR) has become a hot topic when it comes to anti-aging solutions. That doesn’t come as a surprise. Nicotinamide riboside really does offer many benefits that can help you live a healthier and happier life. What exactly? Let’s have a look at the most important benefits of nicotinamide riboside.

1.   Protection Against Skin Cancer

According to research, incorporating nicotinamide supplements into your diet could reduce the risk of skin cancer. In fact, a study with 386 people found that participants who used 500 mg of the supplement per day had a 23% less chance of developing the disease. The results are also backed up by similar studies.

However, scientists still emphasise that more research needs to be done to understand the link between skin cancer and nicotinamide riboside.

2.   Activates Enzymes Important for Healthy Aging

NAD+, which nicotinamide riboside transforms into, activates specific enzymes in our bodies that are responsible for healthy aging. More specifically, NAD+ is critical for sirtuins – a type of protein that not only increases lifespan but also helps repair damaged DNA, reduce inflammation and reduce risk levels.

3.   Increases Levels of Vitamin B3

Although some foods contain tryptophan, which later on converts into NAD, it can be tricky to maintain optimal levels of niacin. Unfortunately, niacin deficiency can lead to a series of problems, including pellagra, which causes dementia, dermatitis and other health issues.

Furthermore, increasing levels of vitamin B3, which, consequently, ups NAD+ levels, will help a wide range of critical biological functions.

4.   Helps Protect Brain Cells

When talking about anti-aging supplements, we often think about reducing signs of aging in our skin. But leading a long and healthy life is more about taking care of what’s within you, and nicotinamide riboside can help with just that.

As science shows, NAD+ can support brain cells and help them age well. The coenzyme controls the production of PGC-1 alpha, a protein necessary for protecting cells against oxidative stress and other processes. Moreover, scientists believe that oxidative stress can affect the development of age-related brain disorders like Parkinson’s disease.

5.   Supports Liver Function

Liver cells in our body have quite a bit of work to do. They must constantly metabolise many different substances, such as hormones and neurotransmitters while detoxifying unwanted substances in our body. That’s a lot! For your liver to function normally, it’s important to support NAD+ production and mitochondrial function. This will reduce the chance of fat depositing in the liver.

Potential Side Effects of Nicotinamide Riboside

As you can see, nicotinamide riboside can be valuable for many vital processes in your body. But like any other supplement, you should first have a look at the potential side effects before taking it. This will not only ensure you’re safe to use it, but you know what to expect when you do.

When it comes to nicotinamide riboside side effects, the good news is there are almost none. In fact, there are practically no reports about interactions between nicotinamide riboside and other drugs or foods (except for some cases of mild side effects like fatigue, nausea, headaches, and stomach discomfort). However, be careful when using the supplement with other NAD+ precursors because it’s unclear whether this could cause potential side effects.

Does Nicotinamide Riboside Cause Cancer?

As far as nicotinamide riboside side effects go, the supplement is generally safe to use. But recently, some troubling research results have appeared that you should pay attention to.

According to a study by the University of Missouri, high levels of the supplement may increase the risk of developing a specific type of breast cancer (triple-negative breast cancer) and cause it to metastasise to the brain. This happens because cancer cells feed off the increased levels of cellular energy, which are directly caused by nicotinamide riboside.

Related: Does NMN cause cancer?

Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) Supplements

Although nicotinamide riboside supplements have their perks, recent discoveries by scientists are concerning. If you’re looking for an alternative to increase your nicotinamide riboside levels, several other supplements and lifestyle changes can be effective. Here are some of the best options:

  • Resveratrol. According to studies, the antioxidant, which is found in foods like raspberries, grapes, and dark chocolate, enhances NAD+ synthesis. It can also be taken as a supplement.
  • Apigenin – the bioflavonoid that can be found in onions, parsley, chamomile and other herbs helps inhibit CD38, which degrades NAD+, and consequently helps maintain higher NAD+ levels.
  • Vitamin D: the vitamin has many benefits, one of which is that it can raise NAD+ levels in fat cells.

Related: Scientifically proven anti-aging supplements and vitamins

NR Dosage

Regardless of the type of supplements you decide to take, it’s always critical to check the correct dosage. Remember that taking too many dietary supplements or consuming them in excessive amounts could result in serious side effects.

How Much Nicotinamide Riboside Should I Take?

When it comes to nicotinamide riboside supplements, most brands recommend taking 250-300 mg per day, which, in most cases, is equivalent to 1-2 capsules.

Per the European Commission, the upper limit for the supplement is 900 mg per day.

When to Take Nicotinamide Riboside?

There are no specific guidelines for taking nicotinamide riboside, however, you should do it at the same time each day to maintain consistent levels of the alternative form of vitamin B3 over time.

Some studies suggest that taking nicotinamide riboside (NR) supplements is best in the morning, ideally with breakfast. This is because the supplement has energising effects, so taking it in the morning aligns with the body’s natural rhythms.

Nicotinamide Riboside vs NMN

Over the years, both liposomal nicotinamide riboside and nicotinamide mononucleotide supplements have become quite popular. But which of the two is better?

Although both are biosynthetic precursors to NAD+, scientific evidence shows that NMN presents more impressive results on many aging mechanisms compared to nicotinamide riboside. You can read about nicotinamide riboside vs NMN here.

What Foods Contain Nicotinamide Riboside?

What’s great about nicotinamide riboside is that you don’t have to follow a specific diet to consume it. In fact, many of the foods you’re likely to eat every day contain nicotinamide riboside.

The richest dietary source of NR is cow’s milk, which makes up 40% of all analysed NAD+ precursors. Besides dairy products, you can also find nicotinamide riboside in: fish (especially salmon and tuna), poultry, yeast, mushrooms, and whole grains and vegetables (like peas).

Conclusion

Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion about liposomal nicotinamide riboside and its potential ability to reverse age-related decline. The benefits of nicotinamide riboside are undeniable, but we advise you to take them with a grain of salt. Although no side effects have been associated with nicotinamide riboside supplementation, there’s still much to be learned about it.

If you still have questions about the best longevity supplements and healthy living, we encourage you to follow our blog for more information.

Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) FAQ

Is niacin the same as nicotinamide riboside?

Nicotinamide riboside and niacin are both forms of vitamin B3 and precursors to NAD+. However, they differ significantly in their chemical structure, metabolic pathways, and efficiency in boosting NAD+. Currently, nicotinamide riboside is considered to be a more effective solution for increasing NAD+ levels.

Still, both forms have their unique benefits.

What is nicotinamide riboside good for?

The benefits of nicotinamide riboside are mostly related to NAD+. Studies have shown that it can enhance cellular energy production (because it is converted into NAD+) and promote healthy aging. Some research suggests that it is also valuable for neuroprotection, cognitive health, and muscle and metabolic health.

Which supplements contain nicotinamide riboside?

Nicotinamide riboside can be found in several supplements aimed at boosting NAD+ levels and supporting overall health. Conveniently, the supplements can be purchased over the counter, and there are a number of different brands to choose from. To find the best supplements for your needs, make sure to read the detailed product information and customer reviews.

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