NIAGEN is the brand name of the only commercially available form of Nicotinamide Riboside (NR).
Patents on the commercial production of NR are controlled by Chromadex who tightly control who they authorize to manufacture products.
CHROMADEX IS THE ONLY SOURCE OF NIAGEN so all NR supplements on the market have the same active ingredients.
There is NO DIFFERENCE in the QUALITY of Nicotinamide Riboside pills used by different brands.
The main difference between brands is CAPSULE SIZE AND CAPSULES PER BOTTLE, so you do need to take that into account when comparing prices.
WHAT IS NICOTINAMIDE RIBOSIDE
Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) is a recently discovered form of vitamin B3 that can increase levels of Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+) levels in humans.
NAD+ is a key co-enzyme that the mitochondria in every cell of our bodies depend on to fuel all basic functions.
NAD+ levels drop as we age and when our bodies are stressed by disease or chronic inflammation.
Research in mice used NMN (Nicotinamide Mono-Nucleotide) to increase NAD+ levels can “turn back the clock” and make muscles, organs and tissues in older mice resemble that of much younger animals.
Research in humans has shown that both NMN and NR raise NAD+ levels, which helps to ameliorate some age related conditions, although it is too soon to know yet how effective it will be.
WHAT WE RECOMMEND
WHAT IS NAD+
NR acts as a precursor to the co-enzyme Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide.
Our bodies can produce NAD+ from a variety of different elements, but as we age our levels of NAD+ drop significantly (1)
NEWS: In a recently completed study of 120 elderly human subjects those given a daily dose of BASIS with 250mg NIAGEN maintained a 40% increase in NAD+ levels over 8 weeks.
Those taking a daily dose of 500mg NIAGEN experienced a 90% increase in NAD+ levels at 4 weeks, and maintained a “significantly higher” increase in NAD+ levels than the 250mg dose.
Read more below under “Study #2” in the DOSAGE section.
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)
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.
A recently completed study of Elysium Healths’ Basis brand of Nicotinamide Riboside is not yet published, but Elysium Health did publish a press release that tells us the primary and secondary endpoints were met, and gives a little guidance on the increase in NAD+ levels achieved with 2 different dosages.
This is a much larger study of 120 elderly subjects tested bi-weekly over 8 weeks.
A single capsule of BASIS is 250 mg of Chromadex NIAGEN brand of Nicotinamide Riboside, along with 50 mg of Chromadex Pterostilbene.
Participants received either placebo, 1, or 2 capsules of BASIS
The press release states that the single dose (250 mg of NIAGEN) resulted in a 40% increase in blood NAD+ levels that was maintained throughout the 8 weeks of the study.
The 500 mg dosage resulted in an increase that was “significantly higher” than the 250 mg dose, and reached 90% at one of the 4 checkpoints (4 weeks).
Since the increase from the 500 mg dosages reached a plateau at 4 weeks, and dropped afterwards, implies that any higher dosage would not be any more effective.
This rather speculative interpretation agrees with the results in Study #1 that the most effective dosage is higher than 250 mg, but lower than 500 mg per day.
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).
BENEFITS OF INCREASED NAD+
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.
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
All research completed to date has been positive, but testing with humans is much slower.
The 6 Nobel Laureate scientists behind Basis believe in benefits of NR supplementation, but so far they are mostly just theories.
The recently completed, but not yet published research using BASIS with elderly humans measured much more than just NAD+ levels. Secondary endpoints measured:
- Treadmill performance
- Chair standing
- Elderly activity performance standards
- Body Weight
Many other clinical studies are currently 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.
WHAT WE RECOMMEND
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 until more research is published, we don’t know if the benefits seen in studies with mice are confirmed in human testing.
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