Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) is a naturally occurring form of Vitamin B3 that is DIFFERENT from Nicotinamide, Niacinamide, Nicotinamide Mononucleotide, Niacin, and Nicotinic Acid, also known as NA, NAM, and NMN. These other NAD precursors have different properties.
You can read about these other NAD precursors here.
Nicotinamide Riboside is the best known way of replenishing NAD because:
1. It is available to every cell, not just certain tissues
2. It does not lose effectiveness as you age or in times of stress
3. It does not suppress beneficial sirtuin activity
3. It is safe, efficacious, and human tested
Until 2004, NR was a little-known and mostly-unloved molecule – an unimportant cousin of Vitamin B3.
But that all changed when a Genetics professor at Dartmouth College, Dr. Charles Brenner, discovered a previously unknown pathway by which cells could use NR to create NAD.
In biochemistry, a metabolic pathway is a linked series of chemical reactions that create the chemicals that cells need to function.
Dr. Brenner's discovery of the NR Kinase pathway -- actually, two pathways: NRK1 and NRK2 -- meant that there could be a new way to replenish NAD in cells with potential advantages over the previously known methods.
For example, the NR Kinase pathways are turned on in every cell. And the NR Kinase 2 pathway becomes especially active when cells are under stress. In other words, stressed or damaged cells are actively looking for NR that they can turn into NAD to help repair themselves.
NR is a natural substance. It can be found in trace amounts in milk. And just as vitamin B3 supplementation with Niacin prevents Pellagra, NR supplementation can prevent NAD deficits, which are implicated in many conditions associated with old-age.
But you would have to drink 75 gallons of milk to get a good dose of NR -- even more if you are older or your cells are stressed. Heightened cellular stress can result from common experiences, such as exposure to sunlight, alcohol, toxins, overeating, or sleep deprivation.
So, as with most other vitamins, NR supplementation is sometimes necessary for optimal health.
Over 150 studies are underway or have been completed studying the effects of NR replenishment via nicotinamide riboside -- mostly in animals or in vitro; there are fewer completed human studies. But the results have been stunning.
The Scripps Institute found that NAD replenishment with Niagen halted the progression of breast cancer and strongly reduced metastasis.
The National Institute on Aging determined that NAD replenishment with Niagen prevented and even repaired Alzheimer's in mice.
The University of Iowa showed that NAD replenishment with Niagen protected against heart disease.
Dr. Brenner's teams also showed that NAD replenishment protected against neuropathy caused by diabetes and chemotherapy (at least in mice and rats).
And a team at the University of Colorado at Boulder showed that NR supplementation was safe and effective in humans, based on a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study.
In other words, NAD replenishment may be a master key impacting many very different symptoms of aging.
Animal and in vitro studies suggest that NAD depletion may be the culprit in a variety of other ailments, too, such as Parkinson's Disease, Alzehimer's Disease, breast cancer, alcohol-induced liver disease, and organ injury from sepsis. (And in my own experience, restless legs syndrome)
NAD Is Essential for DNA
Our bodies are made of trillions of cells, and each of those cells contains a copy of our DNA. And each of those trillions of copies needs to be accurate, or else the cell could malfunction or die.
But errors in the DNA code naturally occur over time. An enzyme called PARP1 is essential for your cells to repair breaks in the DNA. Scientists have discovered that when NAD levels decline, PARP1 levels decline, too, which leads to accumulations of DNA damage, which, in turn, can manifest as the symptoms of aging. That's one example of how allowing your cells to run out of energy can have severe health consequences.
Should You Be Taking NR?
For reasons not well understood, NAD levels naturally decline with age, and that decline might cause cellular malfunction and the failure of DNA repair throughout the body, which could result in the many symptoms that we associate with aging.
If you are a young person and not subjecting your body to abnormal stresses, the odds are good that your body has plenty of NAD, and supplementation would have no effect.
Conversely, if you are elderly, there is little doubt that your body is running short on NAD and you should consider a vitamin supplement to potentially restore normal function to your cells and to limit the damage that has already occurred.
In the middle, perhaps for people age 40-60, you may occasionally be running short on NAD, especially if you occasionally overeat, drink alcohol, spend time in the sun, are exposed to pollutants, or experience jet lag.
Those in the middle have perhaps the best opportunity to prevent the signs of aging, rather than to merely mitigate the effects.
You might not experience much when you take NR -- how does it feel to NOT get a wrinkle?
Some people report more energy, better focus, or less brain fog. A few, like me, experience the apparent amelioration of specific symptoms, like RLS, leg cramps, or graying hair. But for many, effectively delaying the symptoms of aging wouldn't feel like much at all.
But given the state of the science, the extraordinary effects shown in animal models, the very similar mechanisms in humans, the early human studies showing safety and efficacy, and the enormous stakes, if NAD replenishment could indeed prevent maladies like Parkinsons or Alzheimers (we don't know yet), the smart move is to begin supplementing now and monitor the rapidly evolving science.
You can order Nicotinamide (branded "Niagen") from amazon, but if you order more than a single bottle, the bulk and subscription rates are much better when you order direct from the only licensed manufacturer, ChromaDex. ChromaDex manufacturers "Tru Niagen" based on a patent from Dartmouth College. No other manufacturer is licensed to produce it, so watch out for unlicensed nicotinamide of undisclosed source if it doesn't say "Niagen" or "Tru Niagen."
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