Niagen is the brand name of the only commercially available form of Nicotinamide Riboside, sometimes referred to as NR, Vitamin NR, or the God Vitamin.
Several companies are promoting Nicotinamide Riboside using their own product name, but ALL use the exact same ingredient.
ALL Nicotinamide Riboside (Niagen) is Identical – It ALL comes from Chromadex
Patents on the commercial production of NR are controlled by Chromadex.
They are the ONLY SOURCE.
Some brands portray their product as unique, and often don’t use the name Niagen.
They prefer you don’t know there are many other brands that have the exact same Nicotinamide Riboside at a much lower cost.
WHAT IS NICOTINAMIDE RIBOSIDE?
Increasing the NAD+ levels is supposed to “turn back the clock” and make us younger, and repair many of the ravages of aging.
There have been several research studies that do show great promise, but also leave some questions to be answered by other studies that are currently underway.
WHAT DOES NICOTINAMIDE RIBOSIDE DO
NR acts as a precursor to the co-enzyme Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+).
Our bodies can produce NAD+ from a variety of different elements, but as we age our levels of NAD+ drop significantly (1)
Taking a single dose of supplemental NR has been proven to raise our NAD+ levels 30-50%
DOSAGE – HOW MUCH SHOULD WE TAKE
Dr Charles Brenner authored the first human study comparing the effect of different dosage on NAD+ levels of humans. It is also documented extensively in the Phd dissertation by Samuel AJ Trammel.
In this study 6 female and 6 male subjects received 100, 300, or 1,000mg of Nicotinamide Riboside. Blood levels of NAD+ were measured at 1,2,4,8 and 24 hours after supplementation. This was repeated 2 more times, with 7 days between testing.
The chart above shows the 300mg dose was slower to reach maximum NAD+ levels in the blood, but approximately equal to the 1,000mg dose at 24 hours.
The study also documents results of daily dosages of 1,000 mg on a single individual over 7 days. Blood test show the repeated dosages do not raise NAD+ levels beyond the level reached with the first dose.
These results indicate a “ceiling” to how high supplementation with NR can raise NAD+ levels.
Unfortunately, we do not have data on what the effect on NAD+ levels would be with repeated daily dosages of 300mg. It’s likely that the increase from 300mg would hit the max increase seen with 1,000mg much quicker in the day.
A recently completed but not yet published study of elderly patients receiving Elysium Healths’ Basis brand of Nicotinamide Riboside should give us a much more definitive answer on effective dosage protocols.
This is a much larger study of 120 elderly subjects tested bi-weekly over 8 weeks.
Of particular interest is the choice to test placebo vs daily dosages of 250mg and 500mg.
It seems logical that those designing the study would test higher dosages if they believed it likely 750mg would be more effective at elevating NAD+ levels than 500mg.
You can read more detailed analysis of Safe and Effective Dosage of Nicotinamide Ribose here.
WHAT IS NAD+
NAD+ LEVELS DECREASE WITH AGE
As we age, our bodies produce less NAD+ and the communication with between the Mitochondria and cell nucleus is impaired.
Over time, this loss of communication reduces the cell’s ability to make energy, which leads to aging and disease (8).
HEALTH ISSUES RELATED TO DECLINING NAD+ LEVELS
- Neural cognitive dysfunction (9,10,11)
- Inflammation of vascular systems leading to hypertension, heart attack and stroke( 12,13,14)
- Increased fat storage in the liver(15,16,17)
- Increased visceral fat storage – belly fat (18,19)
- Increased blood sugar levels, Insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome (20,21,22)
- Increased fatigue and loss of muscle strength (23,24)
RESTORING NAD+ LEVELS
A landmark 2013 study by Dr David Sinclair demonstrated that increased levels of NAD+ have been shown to reverse age related degeneration in mice, giving older mice the muscle capacity, endurance and metabolism of much younger mice (25).
This suggests that many of the the normal age related conditions are at least partly driven by decreased mitochondrial functioning, and that increasing NAD+ levels can restore mitochondrial functioning and reverse many age related problems (26).
NR RAISES NAD+ LEVELS
In most organisms NAD+ can be created from simple elements present in the body (de novo), or from certain amino acids like aspartic acid or tryptophan.
It can also be synthesized in the body from more complex components such as nicotinamide, niacin or NR (32).
A 2012 study showed that giving mice supplements of NR is effective in raising NAD+ levels and improved the numbers and function of mitochondria (33).
Those mice that received supplements showed increased energy and improved insulin sensitivity, while protecting the animals from metabolic syndrome
They also showed increased endurance, running 33% farther on treadmill testing vs control mice.
A series of research experiments detailed in a recently released PHD thesis showed a single 100mg (purple line) dose of NR was effective in raising NAD+ levels by 30%.
300mg (red line) and 1000mg (black) dosages showed a 50% increase in NAD+ levels.
NAD+ levels begin rising 4 hours after ingesting NR and remain at peak levels 24 hours later.
A longer term study of NR taken daily for eight consecutive weeks is underway to measure NAD+ increase from NR and to better determine the most effective dosage.
PROVEN BENEFITS OF INCREASED NAD+
Below are some of the benefits that have been proven to result from increased NAD+ levels in studies with mice.
- Reversed indications of aging in muscles
- Cardiovascular health
- Improved Energy
- Decreased Muscle Soreness
- Improved Memory
- Better Sleep
- Improved Hearing and Vision
To date, research has been completed in human studies proving:
- Protection from hearing damage
- Increased NAD+ levels
POSSIBLE BENEFITS – QUESTIONS
How much will elevated NAD+ levels benefit aging humans?
The 5 Nobel Laureate scientists behind Basis believe in benefits of NR supplementation, but so far they are mostly just theories.
Will NIAGEN supplementation continue to raise NAD+ levels for long term?
We don’t know if the human body will develop resistance and NR lose its effectiveness.
All research completed to date has been positive, but testing with humans is much slower. Much more testing of NIAGEN is underway, including:
- Neuroprotection – testing college football players for protection against concussion
- Weight Loss
- Improved Memory
- Athletic Performance – Endurance
This safety assesment looked at all current studies of Nicotinamide Riboside and found no noticeable side effects at dosages up to 3,000 mg per day.
In fact, one of the key features of NR is that it doesn’t cause the unpleasant “flushing” that people often experience with Niacin (5).
Of course, this is a very new supplement that doesn’t have years of history, so if you are trying NR out, you should keep informed of ongoing research.
When published, the previously mentioned study of 120 elderly volunteers should be very helpful in determining best therapeutical and maximum recommended dosages.
Chromadex is the ONLY manufacturer of NIAGEN, and owns 5 patents granted for its production which allows them to control the market for Nicotinamide Riboside.
They license several companies to bottle and distribute Niagen, and tightly regulate the retail pricing, so there is very little difference in Nicotinamide Riboside products.
There are minor differences as manufacturers use different capsule sizes, and some add fillers to aid in the bottling process and/or preservatives to extend shelf life.
LiveCellResearch This company does the most advertising all over the internet. They have good price for single bottle purchase, but they don’t offer quantity deals like HPN does. Also, many people aren’t too thrilled by the constant stream of emails they send marketing other products.
BASIS by Elysium Health is the only brand on the market so far that uses a different formula. They add pterostilbene, a kind of resveratrol, that supposedly increases the effectiveness. We don’t see any indication that the Basis brand is more effective, but they certainly do have a very impressive list of 5 nobel laureate scientists backing this product which aids them in their marketing efforts and allows them to charge a LOT more than competitors for their fancy version of Niagen.
Read the full review on Elysium Health.
- HPN $39.95 for 60 125 mg capsules. Often on sale now for $115 for 3 pk make this the best priced brand
- LiveCellResearch $47 for 30 250 mg capsules $117 for a 3 pk makes this close to HPN price
- Doctors Best $31 for 60 75mg capsules Good Brand, but expensive, and 75mg is far too small a dosage.
- F1rst Available soon at GNC stores. $49 for 60 (100mg) capsules.
- Basis $60 for 60 125 mg capsules This by far the most expensive Niagen on the market. If you don’t care about cost, this may be a good choice.
- Enerdrex (Not yet Available) soon to be in Walgreens, Costco, Publix, Kroger
- Proctor and Gamble (Not yet Available) to be included with other products
- NR Age defense (Not yet Available) – CVS stores Nationwide
FINAL THOUGHTS: DOES IT WORK?
- Recent research answered a basic question by demonstrating that NR DOES raise NAD+ levels in humans.
- Research has proven SOME of the claimed benefits such as protection from hearing damage and improvement in other neurological function.
- Many huge brand manufacturers (Proctor & Gamble, Jarrow) are announcing partnerships to develop their own brands of NIAGEN, or to add it to other products.
- All of the major retailers (Walmart, Costco, GNC, CVS, etc) will soon carry NIAGEN in their stores.
All these points are an indication that NIAGEN is NOT A SCAM.
However it will take years before more research studies are completed to know for certain if all the benefits seen in studies with mice are confirmed in human testing.
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