Niagen – The Ultimate Guide to Benefits, Research, and Dosing
Niagen, also known as nicotinamide riboside, is a natural version of vitamin B3 found in milk as a trace element. Up until now, it was considered too difficult or expensive to mass produce, but now, everyone can take advantage of its benefits. We know that vitamin B3 supports many different health functions, but Niagen is special, especially when it comes to aging.1
What’s key about Niagen compared to other forms of Vitamin B3 is that it supports levels of NAD+. (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). By helping transfer energy from food to cells, this co-enzyme is a central block of our cellular function. However, we produce less and less of it as we age. This can lead 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
If there’s any doubt whether Niagen can deliver in this regard, look no further than hard scientific fact. 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 in collaboration with colleagues at Queens University Belfast and ChromaDex Corp. which supplied Niagen for the trial.2
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 the 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 the 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.”
Other studies on Niagen in other products have also shown positive results. One larger study in elderly people showed that a single 250 mg dose of Niagen increased blood NAD+ levels by 40%. These elevated levels were maintained throughout the 8 weeks of the trial. The findings showed that a sweet spot for Niagen supplementation was between 250-500 mg per day, but as you will see, there may some variance in this area.
If you are ready to try Niagen yourself, you have many options to choose from. A good starting point is 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. The Elysium product is the item used in the study on elderly people, so there is some scientific backing for the ingredient in non-Chromadex products.
If you are looking to get started, note that dosage will vary based on weight and age. In general, the older and heavier you are, the more Niagen you will need to see results. One clinical study shows that there are no adverse effects at 300 mg/kg/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.3