What Is Nicotinamide Riboside And Is It Good For Longevity And Anti-aging
What Is Nicotinamide Riboside And Is It Good For Longevity And Anti-aging
Nicotinamide riboside (NR) has recently been discovered as having several health benefits as an anti-aging and longevity vitamin, including increasing energy, boosting cognitive health, reducing the risk of heart disease and promoting DNA repair, due to its ability to raise coenzyme NAD+ levels.
So, what exactly is it, how does it work, and does it really do what people say it does?
Let’s find out more.
What is nicotinamide riboside?
Vitamin B3, also called niacin, comprises a group of molecules that can act as precursors for the classical enzyme cofactor nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which consists of nicotinic acid (NA), nicotinamide (NAM) and the more recently discovered nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN)2 and nicotinamide riboside (NR), which is also called niagen. 
Nicotinamide riboside is converted by your body into nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), an essential coenzyme. It is a NAD+ precursor, meaning that when you consume NR, it increases your NAD+ levels.
Cellular NAD exists in two forms, oxidized (NAD+) and reduced (NADH).
There are five predominant precursors from which NAD+ can be synthesized:
- Tryptophan (Trp), an amino acid, least efficient precursor
- Nicotinic acid (NA), a form of vitamin B3, also known as niacin
- Nicotinamide (NAM), a form of vitamin B3, sometimes called niacinamide
- Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), an intermediate between nicotinamide riboside and NAD+
- Nicotinamide riboside (NR), a form of B3, the most efficient of precursors.  Nicotinamide riboside converts to NAD+ faster than other forms of vitamin B3 and it also requires less energy from the body to boost NAD+.
NAD+ acts as fuel for many key biological processes, such as:
- Regulating sirtuin protein functions. Sirtuin is a group of proteins in the cells which direct metabolism and cellular aging processes.
- The function of Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARPs). The PARPs help repair DNA and are dependent on NAD+ for this process. PARPs also help maintain cardiovascular health, regulate normal blood sugars, and effect a healthy metabolism.
- Catalyzing the activity of ADPR (adenosine diphosphate ribose)-cyclases. ADPR-cyclases are also NAD+-dependent enzymes that control calcium signalling, metabolic pathways, critical processes in the nervous system and brain, and immune function. 
- Converting food into energy
- Setting your body’s internal clock or circadian rhythm 
The amount of NAD+ in your body decreases with age, particularly in the skin and brain, making it more challenging for the cells to produce enough energy to repair themselves. Low levels of the coenzyme have been linked to aging and some common health conditions, like cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease.
Benefits of nicotinamide riboside
NAD+ plays important roles in various metabolic pathways and increasing its overall content has been confirmed as a valuable strategy for treating a wide variety of conditions. From animal and human studies, research tells us that NR is effective for a number of cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, and metabolic disorders. 
Benefits of supplementing with NR are wide-ranging and include:
It has anti-aging properties and may help you live longer
The importance of NAD+ is reflected through the activity of NAD+-depleting enzymes, the mediators of aging, which are mostly induced by stress factors, such as DNA damage, oxidative stress, and inflammation.  It is a key regulator of cellular processes that control the body’s response to stress.
NAD+ allows cells to regenerate and repair, healing the body as it recovers from injuries and rigorous exercise. NAD+ is a sirtuin activator and sirtuin genes has the ability to repair cells and regress them to a more youthful state. 
Supplementing with NR benefits people with NAD+ deficient so it’s more effective in older adults than younger people and has the potential extension of human lifespan.
It boosts metabolism and assists with weight loss
With the increase of NAD+ levels in the body, nicotinamide riboside benefits metabolic regulation, energy storage and DNA synthesis. It kickstarts the metabolism, which burns fat, and helps the body regulate blood sugar levels.
It helps with metabolism and obesity by increasing lean muscle mass. Researchers conducted a randomized trial in which 13 otherwise healthy men and women who were overweight or obese were given either nicotinamide riboside 1000 mg/day or a placebo for six weeks. 
It boosts cognitive health
Researchers have theorised that supplementing with NR may increase brain function and memory, protecting brain cells against oxidative stress that can cause age-related brain disorders.
NAD+ also increases the production of PGC-1-alpha, a protein that supports mitochondrial function, thus reducing the likelihood of cognitive dysfunction. When a person is NAD+ deficient, they are more likely to present with neuro-inflammation, DNA damage and neuronal degeneration in Alzheimer’s disease.
It reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
One study showed that using oral NR for six weeks beneficial for reducing blood pressure and arterial stiffness.
It improves immune function
Studies have confirmed that an increase in NAD+ can help the body fight common viruses, bacteria, and fungi. It may also help improve hyper-inflammation from the immune system.
It supports good mental health
NAD+ helps control depression, anxiety and mood disorders. Researchers have demonstrated that people with low levels of NAD are at a higher risk for developing problems related to a range of mental disorders, including anxiety, addiction and depression.
It boosts energy levels
Boosts energy levels and fights chronic fatigue, inserting itself into the energy cycle in your mitochondria of your cells that create energy.
Health conditions that benefit from increased NAD+
NAD+ benefits a number of health conditions, including chronic disease.
Conditions that may benefit from increased levels of NAD+ in the cells include:
- Neurological deficits
- Brain injury
- Cholesterol metabolism issues
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Diabesity spectrum, including obesity, metabolic syndrome, and Type 2 diabetes
- Systemic inflammation
- Lyme disease
- Malabsorption syndromes
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Autism spectrum
- Small bowel overgrowth syndrome (SIBO)
- Cardiovascular disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Hearing loss
- Renal disease 
How do I supplement nicotinamide riboside and how much should I be taking?
Taking an NR supplement can increase the NAD+ levels in your body’s tissues. Nicotinamide riboside supplements are available in tablet, capsule and powder forms. You can find them online.
The most common nicotinamide riboside dosage recommendation is taking between 250–500 milligrams per day. Serving sizes depend on the brand, but the recommended use is typically one to two capsules per day. 
How do you increase NAD+ naturally?
In conjunction with supplements, there are several ways to increase NAD+ naturally.
Eat foods with NAD+ precursors
Our bodies mainly produce NAD+ by taking specific ingredients in food that are NAD+ precursors and transforming them into NAD+.
- Fish – Sardines, salmons, and tuna are rich sources of NAD+.
- Yeast – Nicotinamide riboside is also found in yeast.
- Green Vegetables – Peas and asparagus are two of the top green vegetables for our bodies, and they increase NAD+ levels.
- Mushrooms – Mushrooms, in particular the cremini mushrooms, increase NAD levels.
- Whole grains – Whole grains are rich in vitamin B3. 
Exercise positively benefits the mitochondria and NAD+ levels. When we exercise, our bodies need energy, which comes from NAD+, forcing our muscles to produce more mitochondria. The increased production of mitochondria results in a natural boost in NAD+ levels in the body.
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
As declining NAD+ levels are exacerbated by chronic inflammation, adopt an anti-inflammatory diet low in processed food, refined sugar and grains and high in healthy fats, greens, and fruits. 
Try intermittent fasting
Fasting, or reducing your calorie intake is an excellent method for indirectly boosting the body’s NAD levels. Studies have shown that fasting leads to an increase in sirtuin levels, which play a vital role in sustaining genome integrity. They take part in maintaining normal chromatin condensation state, in DNA damage response and repair, modulate oxidative stress and energy metabolism. 
Eat fermented foods
NAD+ is a by-product of fermentation so eat so fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut and kefir.
NAD+ declines with overconsumption of alcohol.
Limit sun exposure
Too much time in the sun, you may be prematurely depleting your supply of NAD+. Direct sunlight on the skin forces your body to use increased amounts of NAD+ to repair cell damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. 
Risks and side effects
Nicotinamide riboside is likely safe and well-tolerated when it’s used appropriately ie. sticking to the recommended dosage.
How we can help
NAD+ deficiency is a common cause of aging and several diseases. Studies show that increasing NAD+ levels can improve overall wellbeing although researchers are still working to fully understand NAD+, so research continues.
At Advanced Functional Medicine, our expert functional medicine health practitioners can support you to discover imbalances in your biochemistry and assist you in taking the steps to balance your body, whether through lifestyle adjustments, dietary changes, supplementation or a combination of the three.
Contact us to find out more.