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NMN vs NR – The NAD+ precursor comparison

NMN vs NR - The NAD+ Precursor comparison. Image of molecules.

NMN and NAD+ have been gaining popularity owing to their excellent health benefits. NAD+ or Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide is a vital molecule vital to human survival. Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN) and nicotinamide riboside (NR) are biosynthetic precursors to NAD+. Before we dive in the NMN vs NR comparison let’s explain what NAD+ is exactly.

NAD+ is an essential molecule for the metabolism which decreases as one undergoes metabolic stresses. The older one gets, the more the NAD+ levels in the cells decline. Low NAD+ levels cause tiredness, age-related muscle loss, cognitive decline, vision and hearing loss, and a shortened lifespan.

Not only that, but when you don’t have enough NAD+, your metabolism slows down. This makes you gain weight and increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver, and other metabolic disorders. Then, it becomes important to keep NAD+ levels high to protect the epigenome and DNA. NAD+ is important to the metabolism of cells because it turns nutrients into energy for cells. NAD+ also turns on proteins called sirtuins, which control the health of cells.

Biotech firms concentrate on NMN rather than NR.

Numerous studies suggest that NAD+ levels decrease significantly during aging. With the restoration of NAD+ levels in aged animals, all this extends lifespan and promotes health. Many biotechnology companies have started looking into NMN to treat aging and related diseases. Taking NR and NMN increases NAD+ levels. All humans get NAD+ in their bodies thanks to a diet filled with NAD+ precursors in them. It leads to many health benefits for multiple organs, such as the brain, cardiovascular system, and muscles.

Acclaimed experts use NMN and not NR

One of the world’s foremost experts on longevity, Dr. David Sinclair of Harvard University has spent decades studying NR, NMN, and NAD+. He personally takes NMN, not NR. In terms of market availability, there are several NR and NMN supplements products available in the market. What supplements does Dr. Sinclair take?

Supplementing with either of these two molecules has been shown to raise NAD+ levels. But what are some other things that need to be taken into account when trying to tell these NAD+ precursor molecules apart? In terms of the difference between NMN and NR, studies have never been done on humans at the same time. But the size of the molecules is the most important difference between NMN and NR. Since NMN is bigger than NR, it usually has to be broken up to fit into the cell.

NMN vs NR pathway difference

NMN has the shorter route

When compared to NR, NMN is already one step closer to making NAD+ than NR.

Here’s what happens on the way to NAD+:

  • NR is changed into NMN, which is then used to make NAD+.
  • NR => NMN => NAD+ => DNA repair and maintenance of the epigenome

So, NMN is one step further along the path to NAD+. First, NR needs to be phosphorylated to make NMN, which is then used to make NAD+.

The molecule NAD+ is what makes sirtuins and PARP enzymes work.

The major factors and differences

  1. Pathway Comparison for NMN vs NR: Compared to NR, NMN is already one step further down the pathway to produce NAD+. NR is transformed to NMN, and NMN is utilised to make NAD+. NR must first be phosphorylated to form NMN, which is then made into NAD+.
  2. Size Difference for NMN vs NR: NMN & NR molecules are smaller than NAD+ molecules. NAD+ is twice the size of NR & NMN. Out of the two, NR is smaller. While all 3 molecules have a low molecular weight, NMN needs to be broken down to fit into the cell.

Bioavailability for NMN vs NR

NR appears to be more bioavailable than nicotinamide. NR supplements boost blood and bone NAD+ levels. NMN supplements boost NAD+ levels in different organs, including the brain.

Clinical Trials for NMN and NR: Several clinical trials of NR have been completed. This includes randomized placebo-controlled trials (RCTs). However, no studies have looked at the effect on NAD+ levels in humans. In the case of NMN, there has been only few result published.

Stability for NMN vs NR

Another downside to NR is that it is not stable by itself. In comparison to NMN, NR needs chloride to make it stable.

  1. Taste for NMN vs NR: The taste of Nicotinamide Riboside Chloride is unpalatable as powder-form also. This leads to the production of NR as pills and capsules. Given that NR needs to be a consumer in capsule form, NR must pass through the stomach and liver. There is gets metabolized, which reduces its effectiveness.

NMN is better than NR?

Presently, scientific evidence suggests that NMN is better than NR (nicotinamide riboside) as NMN is further down the NAD+ production pathway. On a molecular level, NMN resembles NAD+ than NR. Studies show more impressive results of NMN on many aging mechanisms than for NR.

Many well-known experts on NAD+ metabolism consume NMN and not NR. This suggests the increasing confidence in NMN, which might hint at something. As is the case with some amino acids, it is important to supplement the human body with NAD+. Even though NR and NMN can be found in many foods, it is present in trace amounts. One cannot eat enough to boost the body’s NAD+ levels. As a result, supplementing with an NAD+ precursor, preferable NMN, can help mitigate this decline in the body’s nutrients.

You might find interesting: NAD vs NAC: What are the main differences?

So why is there so much talk about NR?

  • Up until very recently, it was too expensive to make NMN. That’s why NR was chosen by a lot of companies.
  • Since the way to make NR has been patented, many companies have had a reason to spend a lot of money on public relations to raise its profile, but NMN hasn’t had the money to do the same.


When considering NMN vs NAD, research indicates that transformation between NR and NMN must take place to enter a few types of cells. NMN is one of the fastest means of stimulating NAD production. Except for the NAD metabolic pathway, NMN can also be added directly to cells without first being turned into NAD. Newly found transport proteins that increase when NAD decreases make this cyclical process possible. In this form, NMN helps cells get energy and also has anti-aging properties. So, cells with enough ability can grow and repair themselves.

One’s decision to supplement with NMN and NAD provides a much more direct path to promoting cell metabolism. Hence proves to be a faster means of doing the same. NMN can also be used to make insulin work better and make more of it. It results in additional metabolic benefits and glucose tolerance. NMN supplements can also alleviate metabolic conditions like diabetes, fatty liver disease, and obesity in particular. While it would not be fair to gauge NMN vs NAD, NMN supplements on their own are also proving to have their anti-aging benefits beyond those of NAD production alone.

To increase your body intake of NMN at a price that doesn’t hurt your wallet or your health, check out our offerings of NMN boosters here. It is time to increase your lifespan and repair DNA damage. Get ready!


  1. Preclinical and clinical evidence of NAD+ precursors in health, disease, and ageing
  2. Precursor comparisons for the upregulation of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. Novel approaches for better aging

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