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Nicotinamide Riboside and Vitamin B3 - a new answer to the aging problem?

~ by Karen Lily (article dated 2016)

The other day, I was adding a new multi-vitamin to Vitamin Inspector, Two Per Day Capsules, from Life Extension, when I came across a relatively new and very interesting nutrient called nicotinamide riboside. It is important because it is metabolised well by humans into NAD+. The molecule NAD+ plays a significant role in keeping our cells healthy.

It is the ability of substances to be converted to NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and NADP (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate) that defines them as Vitamin B3, or in other words "gives them Vitamin B3 activity". To enable Vitamin Inspector to compare nictotinamide riboside to other nutrients it was necessary to re-evaluate the research and update Vitamin Inspector's knowledge of this extremely important vitamin.

Types of Vitamin B3

There are 3 known types of Vitamin B3, these are:

  • nicotinic acid1
  • nicotinamide / niacinamide
  • nicotinamide riboside

Most multi's use nicotinic acid and/or nicotinamide to provide Vitamin B3. Niagen® by Chromodex is a newer commercially available source of nicotinamide riboside that has been proven to increase NAD+ in humans.

Benefits of NAD+

  • Over 400 enzymes need the niacin coenzymes, NAD and NADP
  • Used to metabolize food and create energy
  • Can neutralise toxins
  • Involved in cell signalling/communication
  • Involved in DNA repair

Benefits and side effects by Vitamin B3 type

Human trials are not as extensive for nicotinamide riboside as they are for other forms of B3, therefore trials in mice are recorded below where no human data exists.

Effect Nicotinic acid Nicotinamide Nicotinamide
Conversion to NAD+ Yes Yes Yes
Pellagra prevention Yes Yes ?
Lower cholesterol Yes No in mice
Reduction in heart attacks and strokes Yes No in mice
Muscle regeneration ? ? in mice
Cause flushing Yes rare No
Liver toxicity at in high doses2 Yes Yes not in mice
Decrease insulin sensitivity leading to type 2 diabetes at high doses2 Yes No not in mice

Nicotinamide riboside is metabolized by more than one pathway and generates more NAD+ than the other forms of Vitamin B3. It does not appear to have the undesirable side effects of other B3s from trials in mice.

So is nicotinamide riboside the elixir of youth?

What is really exciting about nicotinamide riboside is: (1) it seems to be more efficient at producing NAD+ than the other types of vitamin B3 and (2) it does not appear to have the same dose limiting side effects. Studies on mice are very promising. Old mice given nicotinamide riboside experienced muscle regeneration and lived longer than mice that were not given it.

Human trials have not yet verified its safety, so while it is tempting to take large doses, it would be wise to stick to the recommended amounts.

graph - nad+ declines with age

Nicotinamide Riboside supplement


  1. Niacin: Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand(NRV)
  2. Niacin: Linus Pauling Institute - Micronutrient Info Center(LPI)
  3. Results from First Human Clinical Study Demonstrate ChromaDex's NIAGEN(R) Nicotinamide Riboside Effectively Increases the Co-enzyme NAD+ and is Safe (GlobalNewswire)
  4. Nicotinamide riboside, a trace nutrient in foods, is a vitamin B3 with effects on energy metabolism and neuroprotection. Chi Y1, Sauve AA. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013 Nov;16(6):657-61. (PubMed)
  5. Vitamin Stops the aging process of organs (Science Daily)
  6. B-vitamins and NAD metabolism, or when vitamin B3's bioavailability is not enough (Research Councils UK)
  7. A New-and Reversible-Cause of Aging (Harvard Medical School)


  1. The terms niacin and nicotinic acid are often used interchangeably. Vitamin Inspector classifies niacin as a generic name for compounds with Vitamin B3 activity.
  2. Most reported side effects have been with prolonged usage with doses of more than 3 grams. For more information on safe dosing, see (Mayo Clinic)