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Nicotinamide Riboside is a precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, which has a lot of health benefits. It activates sirtuins, which means it is anti-aging and can help support a healthy circadian rhythm. It can also help generate energy in mitochondrial-dense tissues like muscle, brain, and liver. Read more below to learn about its properties.

If you are struggling with chronic health issues – the way I used to – you probably have piles of lab tests that can potentially tell you a lot about your health. Nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3, may be one of them. However, doctors never had enough time to explain it properly. They will only notice it if the lab flags your test results as outside of normal. But what if all your results are coming back normal, yet you know you are feeling nowhere near healthy? They may even tell you there is nothing wrong with you, and that it’s all in your head – I’ve been there.

Lab Test Analyzer is the tool I wish I had when I was dealing with all my health issues. Instead of normal, it will tell you the optimal values for nicotinamide and many other lab tests. And if you are outside the optimal range, it will give you actionable tips and recommendations that will help you get there.


Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) is a nucleoside made out of niacinamide and ribose. It is a form of Vitamin B3, which is also called niacin or nicotinic acid (R).

It can be found in cow’s milk, brewer’s yeast (R), and whey protein (R, R).

My Experience With Nicotinamide Riboside

When I take NR, I feel a noticeable increase in energy. I need to take about 6 pills to notice it unequivocally. However, I like to take two pills a day for the long term and cycle it (take breaks).

I take it to improve mitochondrial function and to increase the amplitude of my circadian rhythm.

Note: Circadian rhythm amplitude describes the fluctuations of cellular production that coordinate with the day-night cycle. Poor circadian rhythm will lower the NAMPT enzyme, which results in lower NAD+ levels.

How Nicotinamide Riboside Derives Its Beneficial Health Effects

1) Nicotinamide Riboside Gets Readily Converted to NAD+

Nicotinamide riboside is a precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which means it is needed to make NAD+. Most of NR’s health benefits is a result of its formation of NAD+ (R).

By carrying and letting go of electrons, NAD+ is necessary for energy creation in the mitochondria. (Watch this 2-minute video to learn how this works.) Therefore, NAD+ is important for mitochondria health.

2) NAD+ Activates Sirtuins, PARPs, and CD38

NR supplementation increases NAD+, which then activates several enzymes that are important for health, including (R):

  • Sirtuins, which are anti-aging enzymes
  • PARPs, which repair damaged DNA
  • CD38, a receptor in the immune system which is involved in glucose-induced insulin secretion

Because Sirt1 activates PGC-1alpha, NR supplementation stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis and improves mitochondrial health (R). Therefore, NR supplementation can support tissues that heavily rely on the mitochondria for energy, including the nervous system, the liver, the heart, and the muscles.

3) Nicotinamide Riboside Helps Restore Circadian Rhythm

NR can increase NAD+ regardless of NAMPT activity, which helps mitigate the aging effects of poor circadian rhythm entrainment (R).

Testing Your Nicotinamide Levels

You can request that your doctor test your nicotinamide. Conventional doctors will look at high or low nicotinamide levels and not mention anything. Sometimes, a lab result may be in the reference range, but not actually be in the optimal range. Reference ranges are not the same as optimal ranges. This is why even nicotinamide in the ‘normal’ range can be unhealthy and indicate that certain processes in the body aren’t optimal. Lab Test Analyzer will let you know if your nicotinamide levels are optimal and what you can do to get them there if they aren’t.

Health Benefits of Nicotinamide Riboside

1) Nicotinamide Riboside Helps Muscle Function

NR administration rapidly restored muscle mass. Additionally, it preserved muscle NAD levels and exercise capacity in older mice, helping maintain muscle mass and function (R).

Mitochondrial myopathy is a disease where the mitochondria in muscle cells are damaged. It can cause muscle weakness and other problems (R).

Oral administration of NR in mice delayed myopathy progression by preventing mitochondrial abnormalities. NR supplementation reduced NAD+ consumption, which improved mitochondrial function (R).

NR also stimulated mitochondrial unfolded protein response, which protects against mitochondrial disease (R).

2) Nicotinamide Riboside Helps Fight Against Cancer

NR can be used to generally limit tumor growth in mice with high levels of oxidative stress (R).

Low levels of NAD+ synthesis can cause DNA damage. NR supplementation increases NAD+ levels, which can help protect against DNA damage, oxidative damage, and tumor progression (R).

3) Nicotinamide Riboside Reduces Diabetic Symptoms

In prediabetic mice, NR supplementation improved glucose tolerance, reduced weight gain, and reduced liver damage. In Type 2 diabetic mice, NR greatly reduced blood glucose and protected against diabetic nerve problems (RR2).

4) Nicotinamide Riboside Protects the Brain

Proper NAD metabolism can help protect the brain. NR protects the nerve cells in the brain by activating the SIRT3 (R) and PGC1a (R) pathways.

NR can also delay axonal degeneration, which can preserve nerve cells. Supplementation stimulates the NAD pathways and helps prevent degeneration in the brain (R).

NR improved cognitive function, and slowed progression of Alzheimer’s disease in mice given NR for 3 months (R).

5) Nicotinamide Riboside Protects the Liver

Oral administration of NR naturally increases NAD in the body, which helps protect the liver (R).

NR stopped fat accumulation, lowered oxidative stress, prevented inflammation, and improved insulin sensitivity in the liver of mice (R).

6) Nicotinamide Riboside Prevents Hearing Loss

Administration of NR, even after noise exposure, prevents noise-induced hearing loss in mice. It reduces degeneration of nerve cells caused by noise exposure (R).

SIRT3 mediates these effects (R).

7) Nicotinamide Riboside Increases Metabolism

In mice, supplementation of NR (400mg/kg) increased NAD+ levels in muscles, which increased their energy use and metabolism (R).

8) Nicotinamide Riboside May Help with Weight Loss

NR may increase enzymes involved in burning fat (sirtuin enzymes), and energy expenditure thus helping with weight loss (R).

9) Nicotinamide Riboside Increases Longevity

NR increases the amount of NAD in the body, which can help reprogram dysfunctional cells. These combined effects can help increase longevity in mammals (R).

NR induced the mitochondrial unfolded protein response and synthesis of prohibitin proteins, and this rejuvenated stem cells in aged mice (R).

Nicotinamide Riboside Protects The Mitochondria

The nucleus and mitochondria can both metabolize NR.

Its supplementation raises the nuclear and mitochondrial NAD+ levels, thereby activating nuclear SIRT1 and mitochondrial SIRT3 respectively (R).

These pathways boost mitochondrial function.

Genetics and Nicotinamide Riboside

Nicotinamide levels are influenced by your genes. If you’ve gotten your genes sequenced, SelfDecode can help you determine if your levels are high or low as a result of your genes, and then pinpoint what you can do about it.

If you’re sick and tired of guessing about your health, SelfDecode can help you find specific answers that conventional doctors/diagnostics may never uncover.

SelfDecode has the NAMPT gene, which controls NAD+ levels.  If your genes are not producing NAMPT as well, that would suggest that you’ll have a higher need for NR.

Check out your SNPs (need the $99 plan for 23andme ):

  1. RS1319501 (NAMPT)
  2. RS9770242 (NAMPT)

NAD(+) level decrease in aged mice and humans, which is a result of lower NAMPT (R).

Food Sources of Nicotinamide Riboside

Caution / Side Effect 

In mice, NR supplementation worsens exercise performance. They had a lower physical performance compared to the control group (R).

“The NR group showed a tendency towards worse physical performance by 35% compared to the control group at the final 10% load (P = 0.071)”(R).


Nicotinamide riboside is a naturally occurring form of vitamin B3. There was no risk of death at an oral dose of 5000 mg/kg (R).

The lowest adverse effect level on organs for NR was 1000 mg/kg/day, and the no adverse effect level was 300 mg/kg/day (R).

Buy Nicotinamide Riboside

Irregular Nicotinamide Levels?

If you have not yet tested your  nicotinamide levels, I recommend that you ask your doctor to do it. If you already have your blood test results and you’re not sure what to make of them, you need to check out Lab Test Analyzer. It does all the heavy lifting for you. No need to do thousands of hours of research on what to make of your various blood tests.

People don’t realize that their blood test results contain a gold mine of information that’s waiting to be unearthed. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or the inclination to sift through dozens of research papers.

It’s super-simple, so that even if you don’t have any background in science, you will understand what your results mean and what you can do to get them in the optimal range.

Lab Test Analyzer gives you up-to-date scientific information about your lab results. In addition, you will get both lifestyle tips and natural solutions to help you optimize your health. You can also rely on our science-based Optimal Ranges to prevent potential health issues and maximize your overall well-being.

All of the content is backed by science and researched by a team of PhDs, professors, and scientists.

We’re all unique, so we deserve solutions that treat us that way.

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  • LA, MD-JD

    The cited safety reference is done on rats and thus it really can’t elucidate side effects except that there was a measurable decrease in feed intake at certain levels, and an increase in organ size and elevation in certain liver function tests (ALT), especially in females. 10.1177/0960327115626254

    My own experience on rather low dose (250 mg on empty stomach in morning for about 18 months now) is of intermittent abdominal pain, definite decrease in appetite and weight loss, and also an isolated elevation in that particular LFT. Noticeably changed appetite—I’ve become almost averse to meat and alcohol.
    Granted, I can’t prove these are related to Niagen; but while I’m undergoing ulcer evaluation/treatment I think it’s time for a break. I wish Joe had shared his reasoning, and his schedule for taking breaks from this therapy. I can’t find anything specific in the literature, but anecdotally it seems a lot of people are experiencing abdominal pain. I have had my B3 levels checked (Spectracell) and they are 97th%-ile. I am female, human.

  • Nathan K Wright

    Chris Masterjohn just released a podcast episode where he details how NR depletes methyl groups and can have harmful side effects for some people. All the other sources of info about NR have led me to believe it’s perfectly safe and without many serious side effects. Thoughts?

  • HT

    besides NR, there is mitoQ. Should both be taken? What is the role of each in supporting mitochondria?

  • Patrick

    I have been taking NR now for a few weeks. I take in the morning on an empty stomach, often with a coffee. Getting a feeling of unease and heart rate bumping up by 20 BPM for a couple of hours. I also straining my calf muscle on a run (never happened in 15 years of running) I have lowered the dosage but still getting that feeling of unease. Unfortunately I feel its not for me

  • Angela

    How would effect a mthfr c677t one copy under methylator? Not all supplements/additions to our symptoms/issues, benefit all as we all have such different needs. Anything?

  • Geoffrey Parker

    Interaction/reaction with cannabis?

  • Paula

    You lost me a 35% worse exercise performance. Why would anyone want that ?

  • CSue

    What’s the best way to take this? Morning? Empty stomach? I heard good to take with resveratrol or blueberry extract. But I remember reading some other things NOT to take at the same time… Any thoughts?

  • Just Wondering

    “Nicotinamide riboside is a precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which means it is needed to make NAD+.”

    Maybe a foolish question, but since NAD+ is essential and therefore must be made, and NR is, reportedly, barely existent (if not, what foods is it in in any relevant amount?)… how is it “needed” to make NAD+

  • Sebastian

    I’m supplementing with NR & resveratrol by Lifeextension (OPTIMIZED NAD+ CELL REGENERATOR). Now I heard about Controversial roles of NAD+ in promoting versus suppressing cancer. What’s your take on that? Is it like with folic acid that’s protecting DND in healthy cells but also keeping cancer cells alive?

  • Judd Crane

    How long do you use Niagen before cycling off?

  • Sam

    Is there a way to increase NAD+ naturally through food or other means, w/o pills?

    1. Nattha Wannissorn, PhD
  • Robert Miller

    Joe when you say performance decrease are they not talking about a phenomena we see with those on NAD+ boosters and protective diets where the anaerobic threshold kicks in at a far higher HR because the ETC stalls far later due to better oxygenation and later signalling of pseudo hypoxia? Initially we too thought that performance was being impeded until we realised that we were basing that on when anaerobic functionality kicked in and that was actually happening far later meaning we were actually performing better, not worse.

  • asdf

    “In mice, NR supplementation worsens exercise performance”
    But the dose was huge.

  • Eduardo

    You said you take six pills to feel it, but how much is in a pill?

    1. Jane

      Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is a precursor to NAD+, then NADH…the even more reduced form. I personally take NADH successfully, 50 mg daily. But for NR, I’ve seen recommended doses based on limited studies at 300mg a day. A study showed that whether 300 mg or 1000 mg, they both raised our NAD+ levels by 50%.

  • Radek Pilich

    I’ve heard Dr. Mercola on Ben Greenfield’s Podcast talking about cheap DIY approach to get nicotinamide riboside effects by combining niacin with d-ribose. What do you think about that Joe?

    1. Joseph M. Cohen


    2. Ev

      Same thoughts, I was thinking about the d-ribose angle of increase nadh or nad plus. Is it effective or safe?

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