A team of researchers headed by Charles Brenner, the Roy J. Carver Chair of Biochemistry at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, demonstrated that Niagen nicotinamide riboside (NR) increases production of a metabolite responsible for cellular energy production called NAD+ in mice and humans, says ChromaDex Corp.
These findings may provide a clue as to how people can enjoy longer and healthier lives.
NAD+ activates cellular metabolism and energy production within the ‘powerhouses of the cell’, the mitochondria.
The mitochondria are constantly working to convert calories from food into the energy necessary to power all bodily systems, as well as help us stay healthy enough to ward off illness.
This is why NAD+ needs to continuously be replenished in the body.
The challenge is that both NAD+ levels and mitochondrial function decline as one ages.
This reduction in NAD+ is believed by scientists to be linked to a wide variety of age-related conditions.
The benefits of NR remained unknown for years after its initial identification in the 1940’s because scientists did not realize there was a way for it to boost NAD+ levels in humans.
In 2004, then a faculty member at Dartmouth, Brenner discovered the enzymes in humans that enable NR to increase NAD+ and identified it as a vitamin.
This discovery also suggested that NR had the ability to boost NAD+ in a safe and more efficient way than can be achieved with its B3 cousins, niacin or nicotinamide, giving the body extra energy to focus on its critical needs.
Despite more than 75 years of human use of niacin and more than a decade of preclinical work on NR, a quantitative head-to-head-to-head comparison of the three NAD+ precursor vitamins had never been conducted to validate this hypothesis.
In this latest published research, Brenner and his team – along with collaborators at Queens University Belfast and ChromaDex – demonstrated that NR is not only effective at safely increasing NAD+ metabolism in people but also showed that NR produces a greater increase in liver NAD+ as well as in longevity-promoting sirtuin activities than the other B3 vitamins in mice.
“We obtained convincing evidence that oral supplementation of NR boosts NAD+ and enhances the body’s utilization of NAD+ to a greater degree than the familiar forms of vitamin B3. NR is the most efficient NAD+ precursor,” Brenner shared.
Further hypotheses were validated in his study of 12 healthy men and women who were given three doses of NR: 100 mg, 300 mg and 1000 mg.
The results indicated that 24 hours after taking any dose of NR, blood NAD+ was safely elevated.
The group developed targeted quantitative metabolomic technologies – the simultaneous measurement of the effects of NR, exercise or other interventions on metabolism.
In the first of his three studies Brenner was surprised to find that a low level metabolite called NAAD increased 45-fold as human NAD+ rose in response to NR.
This increase signaled that NAAD could be a biomarker of increased NAD+ formation.
His second study confirmed this hypothesis while also demonstrating that NAAD is formed from NR.
Following NAAD showed that even tissues such as the heart that keep tight control over the total amount of NAD+ have an increase in NAD+ metabolism when NR is supplemented.
“NAAD is a reliable biomarker of increased NAD+ metabolism,” explains Brenner.
“The more NAD+ produced, the more we see the NAAD biomarker.”
By following an additional metabolite that is produced when the sirtuin longevity proteins utilize NAD+, Brenner demonstrated that NR has great advantages over niacin and nicotinamide in activating these proteins in the body.
This finding is significant, as many scientists believe sirtuin activation plays an important role in living longer and healthier throughout our lifetime.
Impact on health and energy
Though larger increases in NAD+ metabolism were observed at higher doses, the study was significant in showing that lower doses were also effective.
Daily NR supplementation – now widely available – safely helps to replenish NAD+ levels.
“Maintaining a more youthful metabolism could mean higher resting metabolic rate, resistance to weight gain, and the ability to maintain muscle mass and resist tissue damage over time,” adds Brenner.
Results from nine additional collaborative human trials currently underway should provide additional insights as to the critical role NAD+ plays in people.