Nicotinamide Riboside

Last updated: Sep 2, 2017


The foundational strength of our brain is a small part of each cell called the mitochondria. When we use cognitive enhancers and nootropics that improve mitochondrial health, we can increase our energy and increase our resilience and longevity. That is the key of nicotinamide riboside, which has a wide variety of benefits.

Popular among biohacking communities, nicotinamide riboside (NR) increases the health of our mitochondria (the powerhouses of each cell) [1]. Similar to CoQ10 and PQQ, nicotinamide riboside supplements can boost both physical and cognitive function. NR has a preserving effect on neurons suggest neuroprotective capabilities [2].

The same mechanism of nicotinamide riboside can also enhance cognition and reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in animal models [3]. As with many foundational nootropics, the nicotinamide benefits come with few side effects.

Also Known As

Niagen, NR, nicotinamide ribose, vitamin NR

Editors’ Thoughts on Nicotinamide Riboside

Anything that improves mitochondrial function is a boon in my experience. While the beginner might be alarmed there is no significant “feeling”, the supplement works long term and has foundational support for mitochondria (as mentioned above).

At least a few times per week I don’t consume any nootropics or stimulatory drugs, but focus only on the options that can boost mitochondrial function or act as antioxidants. I like NR supplements and don’t feel the need to take high doses daily.

Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor

Nicotinamide Riboside Benefits

There are many nicotinamide riboside benefits beyond the brain. Because this molecule is important for basic mitochondrial function, it impacts every cell in the body. Similar to creatine, when we supplement with NR, we see benefits universally.

Before we dive into the cognitive benefits, it’s useful to note that nicotinamide riboside can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress [4]. There are also nicotinamide riboside cancer benefits as well. Studies show NR can reduce tumor growth and protects DNA synthesis within cancer patients [5].

All of this culminates in general longevity and antiaging advantages. The byproduct of NR helps reprogram dysfunctional cells, which rejuvenate and enhance overall cell function [6]. Because our cell function starts to decrease with age, this is a method of improving lifespan and quality of life.

There are a host of nicotinamide riboside benefits for the brain specifically. There are over 5 million Americans struggling with Alzheimer’s disease [7], which is the 6th highest cause of death. One 3 month study found that nicotinamide riboside could increase cognition and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease [8].

A separate study showed that nicotinamide riboside (NR) could delay the death of brain cells, which suggest a neuroprotective effect [9].

Anyone considered elderly can find nicotinamide riboside benefits almost immediately, but young healthy adults can as well.

What is Nicotinamide Riboside?

Nicotinamide riboside is a molecule similar to vitamin B3, though different enough to have unique effects [10]. It is a combination of niacinamide and ribose, which is often found in cow’s milk, whey protein, and brewer’s yeast.

The NR supplement is so effective because it acts as a precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) [11]. The NAD is the source of most benefits within the cells and throughout the body.

Nicotinamide Riboside Side Effects

There are few nicotinamide riboside side effects, but as with any other compound risks are associated with the supplement. One animal study suggests NR supplementation could reduce physical performance by up to 35% compared to a control group (10%) [12]. While this may not apply to humans, it is worthwhile to note especially for athletes.

Otherwise, there are few nicotinamide riboside side effects. The compound is a naturally occurring form of vitamin B3 suggesting it’s generally safe. Even at high doses of 5000 mg / kg, there weren’t adverse effects [13].

Most users will not experience nicotinamide riboside side effects unless physically active. Even then, the loss of physical performance is theoretical based on animal models while there is no human evidence.

Vitamin NR Dosage

Getting the vitamin NR dosage correct can help avoid nicotinamide riboside side effects as well. Most of the studies are in the thousands of milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight, but the suggested NR supplement dose is 1 – 200 mg per day.

There are plenty of anecdotal reports of doses up to 600 mg per day, which can increase mental energy and focus, but these are neither common nor recommended for first time users. It’s best to take niagen within the 1 – 200 mg per day dose range.

How and Where to Buy Nicotinamide Riboside

Nicotinamide riboside supplements are easy to find on the internet and may be available at a local health food store. It is relatively new in supplement form and uncommon, but there may be local vendors selling the product.

The better bet is to purchase from a brand that has a good reputation in the community. Life Extension is a reliable brand with a nicotinamide riboside supplement.

Nicotinamide Riboside Food Sources

Anyone can take advantage of nicotinamide riboside food sources without needing a supplement. The main dietary sources of this nutrient are as follows:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Whey protein
  • Brewer’s yeast

For many people (the editor included), dairy is off limits for other reasons. The nicotinamide riboside food sources might be effective, but are less efficient than a NR supplement.

Selected Online Experiences

Its hard to say. Started taking it 3 days ago, but I have had the flu the entire time. I do feel that I have enhanced alertness and energy that is sustained until the moment that I fall asleep. Anecdotally, My vision seems to have improved. Since I have been sick, I have been wearing my glasses which are old (I have gotten 3 contact prescription increases since I got them) but I can see perfect detail with them now.” [14] – mootbrute

23 year old male, I haven’t noticed anything from it either, unfortunately. PQQ is more noticeable for me.” [15] – Sherlockian_Holmes

In terms of what I felt subjectively:

  • I felt significantly better after eating large meals, no food comas.
  • The first few days I felt my mood and energy levels were much better. The effect seemed to diminish with time.” [16] – ZombieChalmers

Nicotinamide Riboside Reviews

There are few studies of nicotinamide riboside on healthy adults (or humans specifically), which prompts investigation into anecdotal information. The nicotinamide riboside reviews are worthwhile to better ascertain what experience you can expect.

The nicotinamide riboside reviews should not be the only data point from which to research, but is an effective tool for making purchase decisions nonetheless.

References (Click to Expand)
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  • Brian

    ChromaDex NR has twice as many capsules at 3x’s the milligram. Gene Formulas Niagen.

    • Mansal Denton

      Hey Brian, good find! Do you think it’s needed to have a higher dose, though? I’m not so sure that’s the case.

      • Brian

        From what I’ve read, average adults need 1000mg/day for optimal levels of NAD+. This is based on reports of an MIT professor involved with the NAD+ research reported by some other supplement consumer review sites.

        • Brian
        • Mansal Denton

          Where did you read that Brian?

          • Brian

            I tried linking the article several times. It keeps being removed.

          • Brian
          • Mansal Denton

            Yeah, I’m noticing that on Disqus. Sorry about that. Thanks Brian

          • Brian

            You bet!

        • isabel OMalley

          1000mg/day? the one you recommend has only 200 mg and the Niagen has 250mg which they said is the minimum recommended. So the 1000 mg you suggest is 4 pills a day of whatever is on the market at 250mg?

          • Brian

            It’s 300 mg. I have a bottle right here.

          • Bart Welch

            Looking on Niagen Supplement Facts. Serving size is 2 capsules (250mg). So that’s 125mg/capsule. It would take 8 capsules for 1000mg. 8 capsules per day is very expensive.

        • Christine Rothwell

          Hello: Can you direct me (give me the link for the 1000/day site? I believe I know the professor your referring to in the comment. He also has done extensive research on resveratrol. I would like to see the info, and also I would like to know if you happen to know how much resveratrol this professor takes/recommends. Thanks! Also…thanks for pointing me to ChromaDex NR — 3 times the pills for $28 more than Thorne’s formula.

  • jerrycollie

    The only thing I noticed was that I could go jogging without having to stop and rest. Before Niagen I had to stop and rest after 15 minutes. I suppose it is powering up my mitochondria.

    • Mansal Denton

      That is great! it’s a good byproduct especially considering some of the side effects are theoretically supposed to be LESS fitness. Looks like you didn’t experience that 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Jerry

    • Michel Blanchard

      That’s great, because I’m a nutritionist and a personal trainer with my own private practice, and I personally train around two hours a day and was worried this could affect my clients’ and my personal performance.

      • Mansal Denton

        Absolutely. That’s the somewhat tricky aspect of these studies. Sometimes studies in animals doesn’t mean a nootropic is beneficial for humans. Sometimes the side effects in animals doesn’t mean it’s risky for humans.

  • Trent Layell

    The loss of physical performance in animal models may have been a temporary one due to recycling of defective mtDNA and mitochondria. Please see this link for a discussion that discusses this in detail:


    • Mansal Denton

      Hi Trent, thanks for sharing. That’s super useful info and discussion 🙂

  • Can I take it along side with 5-htp , i take 200mg of time release of 5-HTP a day ?

  • Rachel Munoz

    I have had post treatment low level persistent cancer since 2014. The blood markers have fluctuated up and down but since taking this supplement for 18 months my markers have not only reduced but stayed stable at the same number for the last 3 tests. I get tested every 4-6 months. I should also add that this is concurrent with reducing my pharmaceutical treatments. There have been no other changes to my treatment so I give credit to the NR. My dose is 150-300 mg daily.

  • disqus_4CZB5L8hUr

    I think the important principle is you take NR for the long term benefits, not the short term acute benefits. Therefore I always take it post workout, never pre workout. This makes sense from a cellular energy standpoint. NAD+/NADH is a redox couple with NAD+ the oxidized form and NADH the reduced form. NR increases the NAD+/NADH ratio which makes your cells think they’re starved for energy which has long term benefits by turning on pathways such as SIRT1, PGC1A, AMPK, FOXO3 associated with mitochondrial biogenesis, cellular repair and longevity. But bear in mind it’s the NADH not the NAD+ that gets sent through the mitochondrial electron transport chain to create ATP energy via oxidative phosphorylation which fuels your workout. This is in line with my own observations that whether I’m doing sets of pull ups and dips or sets of 400m runs, if I take NR pre workout I have earlier onset of muscle fatigue, lactic acid burn and performance decrement. So I expect NR to improve my health and my endurance over the long term but not improve my workout immediately after taking it.

  • Michael Sherer

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but the animal study showing loss of physical performance used 300 mg/kg as the dose, which is about 100 times more than a human might take and likely a toxic level. I don’t understand why anyone would do or publish that study. I’ve seen similar studies with polyphenols–give a rat an outrageously high dose and then observe that said polyphenol can cause oxidative stress. Give healthy people antioxidants and then observe that it didn’t make them healthier. Who funds this crap? Big pharma?