Aging is something that comes for us all, but science is still trying to unravel exactly how it works.1 What is becoming more and more clear is that our nutrition level factors into many different factors of our life, including how we age. Some nutrients have more potential than others, like nicotinamide riboside, a form of vitamin B3. It’s been known for some time that vitamin B3 plays a role in a lot of health processes, and that we get a bulk of it from diet.2 While nicotinamide riboside is commonly found in milk as a trace element, it’s been something that’s been hard to get in decent quantities until now. This is Niagen, from Chromadex.
What makes Niagen so important? Well, for one, it helps boost levels of NAD+. (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). Many believe that this is a potential key to unlocking the secrets of aging. This co-enzyme plays a role in nearly all of our bodily functions, enabling the transfer of energy from food to cells. Low levels of NAD+ have been linked to:
- Quicker aging
- Increased sunburn
- Increased visceral fat storage (increased belly fat)
- Increased blood sugar levels and metabolic syndrome
- Worsening cardiovascular diseases
- Increased fat storage in the liver
It’s important to note that when you compare Niagen to the alternatives, there is a bonafide human clinical trial to back up Niagen’s claims. The research, reported in the journal Nature Communications, led by Charles Brenner, Ph.D., professor, and Roy J. Carver, Chair of Biochemistry at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. Brenner worked with colleagues at Queens University Belfast and ChromaDex Corp. which supplied Niagen for the trial.3
Six men and six women, all healthy, took part in the trial. Each participant received single oral doses of 100 mg, 300 mg, or 1,000 mg of NR. This took place in different sequences with a seven-day gap between doses. Following each dose, blood and urine samples were collected and analyzed to show measured levels of a cell metabolite—known as NAD+. As levels of NAD+ decrease with age, some believe that they may play a role in cellular decline.
The end results showed that using nicotinamide riboside increased NAD+ metabolism by amounts directly related to the dose. In addition, there were no major side effects.
“This trial shows that oral NR safely boosts human NAD+ metabolism,” Brenner says. “We are excited because everything we are learning from animal systems indicates that the effectiveness of NR depends on preserving and/or boosting NAD+ and related compounds in the face of metabolic stresses. Because the levels of supplementation in mice that produce beneficial effects are achievable in people, it appears that health benefits of NR will be translatable to humans safely.”
Brenner also took the study into his own hands—literally. Prior to this trial, he performed a pilot study on himself using Niagen. This dates back to 2004, where he discovered that that NR is a natural product found in milk and that there is a pathway to convert NR to NAD+ in people. To test this, he took 1 gram of Niagen once a day for seven days, while having his blood and urine samples tested.
The experiment showed that Brenner’s blood NAD+ increased by about 2.7 times. “While this was unexpected, I thought it might be useful,” Brenner says. “NAD+ is an abundant metabolite and it is sometimes hard to see the needle move on levels of abundant metabolites. But when you can look at a low-abundance metabolite that goes from undetectable to easily detectable, there is a great signal to noise ratio, meaning that NAAD levels could be a useful biomarker for tracking increases in NAD+ in human trials.”
Looking to give Niagen a try? Take your pick between Chromadex’s Barology bars or the Tru Niagen supplement. Note that while Chromadex is the only supplier of Niagen, other products use it, like Elysium’s Basis Product. If you are looking to try some for yourself, note that dosage will vary based on weight and age. In general, the older and heavier you are, the more you will need. One clinical study shows that there are no adverse effects at 300 mg/day. Best practice is following the recommendation on the label for the product you use, as well as consulting with a medical professional if you have any questions.4