What Is Nicotinamide Riboside (NR)? An Overview of Its Benefits

What is Nicotinamide Riboside (NR)? An Overview of Its Benefits, Safety, and Dosing

Do you spend hundreds of dollars on anti-aging products? Then, this article is for you. 

Most anti-aging products are designed to reduce and reverse signs of aging on the outside. Nicotinamide riboside (NR), on the other hand, aims to reverse signs of aging from within the cell. 

This greatly reduces the struggle to get those fine lines and wrinkles to smoothen and dry skin to hydrate. Since NR does the heavy “lifting” from inside the cell, the results are easily visible on your skin, hair, nails, and overall vitality.  

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about nicotinamide riboside, including benefits, dosage, safety, and how it compares to other similar anti-aging molecules.

Key Takeaways 

  • Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is a unique form of vitamin B3, known as niagen. NR is a precursor to the essential molecule for aging and longevity, NAD+. 
  • Depleting levels of NAD+ in cells are linked to aging and the development of age-related conditions. 
  • NR supplementation has shown promise in boosting NAD+ levels, potentially reversing age-related cellular decline.
  • Elevated NAD+ may promote healthy aging, brain health, reduced inflammation, and cardiovascular benefits.
  • While generally considered safe, NR's long-term effects and optimal dosages in humans are still under study.

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What is Nicotinamide Riboside (NR)?

A form of vitamin B3, nicotinamide riboside (NR), or niagen, is naturally found in plenty of food sources, including milk and other dairy-containing foods, fish, green vegetables, whole grains, and mushrooms. Cow’s milk has the highest concentration of NR, accounting for 40% of all NAD+ precursors [1]. 


Nicotinamide riboside is a member of the vitamin B3 family and is not vitamin B3 itself. True vitamin B3 is called niacin. 

NR’s Role in Defying Aging

NR is the secondary precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). In the cell, NR converts to nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), which further transforms into NAD+. 

NAD+ is an essential molecule present in every cell in the body. Without it, cells can’t work normally or survive, so they slowly die out. NAD+ is the fuel for many essential biological processes, including [2, 3]:

  • DNA repair
  • Converting food into energy
  • Setting the circadian rhythm

NAD+ plays an essential role in inflammatory response, oxidative stress, and sleep/wake cycles.

The levels of NAD+ in the cell decrease with aging, which is unfortunately, directly linked to the development of age-related conditions. Periods of inflammation also cause depletion in NAD+ levels in many tissues in the body [2,4].  

Supplementing with NR increases the concentration of NAD+ at much higher levels than what we get from our diets. 

Nicotinamide riboside is considered a potent NAD+ booster. So far, NR has demonstrated excellent efficacy and has a great oral bioavailability. This means that when you take an NMN capsule, a good amount of the component reaches and is fully available in the bloodstream. 

Elevated levels of NAD+ increase the production of sirtuins. Sirtuins are enzymes that play a role in [5]:

  • Reducing stress
  • Maintaining a balanced circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle)
  • Cell growth
  • Metabolism
  • Cognition 

Boosting the levels of NAD+ in the cell with NR supplementation provides potential protection against a broad spectrum of conditions, including diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s), and vision loss [6].

Benefits of Nicotinamide Riboside (NR)

Most research on NR is done on animals, so its effectiveness in humans must be further investigated. These are some of the most important benefits of NR supplementation for the body:

An Effective NAD+ Precursor 

NAD+ is an essential molecule for life. It takes part in critical biological processes that keep cells alive. This coenzyme is vital for optimal health, but its levels in the body decline with age. This leads to difficulties during aging and the potential development of diseases [2]. 


A proven way to increase NAD+ levels in the cell is to take NAD+ precursors, such as nicotinamide riboside. Research shows that NR is an effective NAD+ precursor because it raises its blood levels up to 2.7 times. Compared to other precursors, NR is more readily used [7]. 

May Promote Healthy Aging 

By increasing the NAD+ levels in the body, NR assists in the activation of a group of enzymes — known as sirtuins. Sirtuins are known for their potential to improve lifespan and contribute to healthy aging in animal studies.

If you are familiar with intermittent fasting and calorie restriction, you may have heard of their potential to extend human lifespan. Well, sirtuins are the enzymes responsible for that. These enzymes are involved in repairing DNA, reducing inflammation, and improving the way the body reacts to stress [8]. 

Another way boosting NAD+ can assist in healthy aging is by boosting PARPs. Poly (ADP-Ribose) polymerases (PARPs) are a group of components that help repair damaged DNA. When damaged DNA gets repaired in your body thanks to higher PARP activity, your lifespan may be prolonged [9]. 

Maintaining Brain Cells Health 

NAD+ is an essential molecule that keeps brain cells in shape and mitigates aging. 

 This molecule helps control the production of PGC-1-alpha protein. This protein plays a significant role in protecting cells against oxidative stress and damaged mitochondrial function. Research shows impaired mitochondrial function is linked to brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s [10]. 

  •  A test-tube study showed that NR increased NAD+ levels in stem cells from a Parkinson’s disease patient. It also improved mitochondrial function [11].
  •  Receiving 500 mg of NR two times a day increased NAD+ levels in older adults and decreased markers of neurodegeneration (breakdown of neurons) [12].
  •  Receiving 1,000 mg of NR daily in people with Parkinson’s increased NAD+ levels in the brain. The researchers noticed reduced brain inflammation, pointing to potential neuroprotective effects [13]. 
  •  Mice with Alzheimer’s who received NR noticed elevated NAD+ levels up to 70% and raised PGC-1-alpha production by 50%. Researchers found that the mice performed significantly better at tasks based on memory [14]. 

 While these studies are promising, there’s no clear evidence of how helpful it would be to increase NAD+ levels in people with age-related brain diseases. We need more studies on humans.

May Lower the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases

Heart disease is one of the world’s leading causes of death, and aging is a major risk factor. 

Aging causes changes in the body that increase the risk of heart disease, including aortic stiffness and systolic blood pressure. As a result, this can raise blood pressure and burden your heart.  

  • Animal studies show that raising NAD+ levels reverses the changes to arteries caused by aging [15]. 
  • A study on healthy older and middle-aged adults at risk of high blood pressure showed that 1,000 mg of NR daily raised NAD+ levels and helped reduce aortic stiffness and blood pressure [16]

May Improve Muscle Health

Another factor related to healthy aging is the strength and elasticity of joints, bones, and muscles. Here's why you should consider NR as part of your routine in keeping a strong aging body:

  • Preclinical studies show that continual use of NR could increase physical performance by improving muscle function and strength [17].
  • A small study showed that older men taking 1,000 mg of NR daily noticed an increase in skeletal health in three weeks [18].

May Lower Inflammation 

Research has continually shown that NR supplementation reduces cytokine levels in the blood, hence reducing inflammation. This is an important measure of inflammation noticed in older males, aging individuals, and people diagnosed with neurodegenerative diseases [6]. 

NR vs. NMN vs. NAD+: Main Differences 

A lot can be said about NAD+ precursors. Here’s a short comparison between the three most important ones: 

Nicotinamide Riboside (NR)

A form of vitamin B3, nicotinamide riboside (NR) is a compound necessary for healthy aging, supporting cellular energy and metabolism, brain and liver function, and more.  

This compound is a precursor to NAD+, which is a key coenzyme in the process of energy production and DNA repair. But, to get from NR to NAD+, NR must first convert into NMN, the direct precursor of NAD+.  

The levels of NAD+ in the body decline as we age, which leads to negative health outcomes and diseases. Research shows that supplementing the body with NR boosts the production of NAD+ in the blood. 

Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN)

Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) is the direct precursor to NAD+. Without it, the production of NAD+ would be impossible. You probably consume some percentage of NMN through foods, as it’s found in avocado, edamame, and broccoli.  

But, the only way to effectively boost the levels of NMN is through supplements. When the levels of NMN are high in the body, the NAD+ levels will be too.  

This means that the cell has enough of these coenzymes to maintain a healthy function that slows down the aging process and prevents the development of chronic illnesses.  

Read next: What is NMN? 

Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+)

NAD+ is a key coenzyme that’s absolutely essential for cellular function, mitochondrial health, DNA repair, and gene expression. This compound is involved in the production of sirtuins, the enzymes that keep the cell healthy and help slow down aging and prolong human lifespan.  

Studies have shown that supplementing the body with NR, NMN, or NAD+ supplements increases the levels of NAD+ in the blood. Choosing the right supplement to boost NAD+ is another topic, but knowing that these molecules are interconnected and may help slow down aging is important.

Safety and Side Effects

Nicotinamide riboside is considered a safe compound with very few and likely minor — side effects.  

In doses up to 300 mg daily, NR has shown an excellent safety profile and has been well-tolerated. In the short run, studies have shown no adverse effects in doses as high as 1,000 and 2,000 mg per day [19, 20].  

It’s important to note that the human studies that investigated these doses are short in duration and include few participants. To determine the safety of this compound, we need more long-term human studies.  

For what it’s worth, The FDA gave Niagen, an NR supplement, GRAS status [17].

Nicotinamide Riboside Side Effects 

Some people have reported mild to moderate side effects from taking NR, including [21]: 

  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • indigestion
  • Itching
  • Sweating 

In mice, doses of 300 mg per kg of weight daily for 90 days showed no harmful effects [22]. 

Nicotinamide Riboside Precautions

Nicotinamide riboside may interact with blood pressure medications (antihypertensive drugs). They may have additive effects, meaning they increase the risk of hypotension.  

According to research, NR may modestly reduce blood pressure in patients who already experience hypotension. But, other research hasn’t found any correlation between NR and low blood pressure [20].  

Therefore, read the supplement’s ingredient list and discuss potential interactions with a healthcare provider. 

Stop taking it if you are allergic (itching, rash) to this compound or its components. Seek medical attention in case of a severe allergic reaction (hives, shortness of breath). 

It’s also unclear whether you should take NR with another NAD+ precursor, such as NMN, NADH, or NAD+. The reason? It’s unknown whether NR increases the side effects of other precursors or influences their effectiveness [23]. 


Nicotinamide riboside can be used as a capsule or a tablet. The typical recommended dose of NR is 250-300 mg per day, which equals 1-2 capsules daily, depending on the supplement.  

For example, the Mytogenix NR supplements contain nicotinamide riboside combined with trans-resveratrol and CoQ10 for better bioavailability. We offer them at the recommended safe dose of 300 mg of nicotinamide riboside.  

As mentioned, human studies have reported safe use with no side effects of doses of up to 1,000 mg. For the NR supplement recognized as safe, the FDA recommends an upper limit of 180 mg per day for a 60 kg (132 pounds) person.

Conclusion: What is Nicotinamide Riboside?

Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is a form of vitamin B3 and a precursor to NAD+. NAD+ is an essential molecule found in every cell responsible for DNA repair and energy conversion.  

As we age, NAD+ levels deplete, leading to potential age-related diseases. NR supplements aim to boost NAD+ levels, countering these declines and possibly benefiting skin, hair, and overall vitality.  

Research indicates that NR might promote healthy aging, maintain brain and muscle health, reduce inflammation, and lower risks of cardiovascular diseases.  

Although NR is considered safe with few reported side effects, we need long-term human studies to confirm its safety and efficacy. 

FAQs on Nicotinamide Riboside 

Q: Is nicotinamide riboside the same as vitamin B3? 

A: No, vitamin B3 is known as niacin. Nicotinamide riboside is a naturally occurring form of vitamin B3 and is known as niagen. NR is found in trace amounts in some foods and is the precursor to NAD+.  

Q: Are there any dangers in taking nicotinamide riboside supplements?

A: So far, NR has shown an excellent safety profile with no side effects even if taken at high doses of up to 1,000 mg. Some people have reported digestive issues and liver problems, but the actual risks are to be determined.  

Q: What is the recommended dosage of nicotinamide riboside (NR)? 

A: There’s no standard recommended dosage of this supplement. But, research shows that taking up to 300 mg of NR per day is safe and shows no side effects. Some (short) human trials show that supplementation with NR of up to 1,000 mg daily is safe and comes with minor side effects. Long-term studies are needed to understand the actual risks of NR supplements. 


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