Nicotinamide riboside chloride (NR) is a form of Vitamin B. When taken orally, NR dose-dependently increases the circulating level of a molecule called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+).
NAD+ is a critical molecule and coenzyme found in every cell in your body. It is involved in hundreds of metabolic processes. The main role of NAD+ in metabolism is the transfer of electrons from one molecule to another.
NAD+ can be synthesized in some cells from the amino acid tryptophan, but the main source of NAD+ is from its precursors which include NR and nicotinamide (vitamin B3). Milk is the most common dietary source of both NR and nicotinamide.
NAD+ was first described in 1906 as a component that could increase the fermentation rate in yeast. Years later, researchers determined that NAD+ plays a central role in hydrogen transfer in cellular redox reactions.
As an essential electron transporter, NAD+ facilitates metabolic processes including glycolysis (the metabolic pathway that converts glucose to ATP (cellular energy)), the Krebs cycle (releasing stored cellular energy and creating ATP), and fatty acid oxidation (breaking down fatty acids into useable blocks). All of these processes involve the cycling of NAD+ to its reduced form NADH and back again - that just means electrons are shuttled between the two forms. The net result of these biochemical pathways is that usable energy is made in every cell of your body!
Beyond its vital role in energy metabolism, NAD+ has important roles as a co-substrate for various enzymes including sirtuins, and assisting with DNA repair.
Sirtuins are a family of seven proteins that regulate cellular health. Sirtuins require NAD+ to function. Sirtuins have been intensively studied for their ability to promote longevity in yeast, worms, flies, and mice.
In humans, sirtuins play a key role in health promotion, for example, sirtuins are linked to the health benefits that come from exercise and fasting (i.e. calorie restriction).
The role of NAD+ and its related molecules on energy metabolism, DNA repair, inflammation, and stress resistance cannot be overstated. NAD+ deficiency, however, contributes to a spectrum of diseases including metabolic, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Unfortunately, our levels of NAD+ decline by as much as 50% as we age. Maintaining healthy NAD+ levels may therefore be beneficial in counteracting at least some of the age-related cellular degenerative processes.
The most common reason for taking NR is to support healthy NAD+ levels, thereby supporting healthy cellular metabolism, function and healthy aging.
Imai S, Guarente L (2014) NAD+ and sirtuins in aging and disease. Trends Cell Biol24: 464–471.
Massudi, H et al. Age-Associated Changes In Oxidative Stress and NAD+ Metabolism In Human Tissue. PLOS One. Published July 27, 2012.
Kane, E.E. & Sinclair, D.A Sirtuins and NAD+ in the Development and Treatment of Metabolic and Cardiovascular Diseases. Circulation Research Volume 123, Issue 7, 14 September 2018, Pages 868-885.
Martens, C. R. et al. Chronic nicotinamide riboside supplementation is well-tolerated and elevates NAD+ in healthy middle-aged and older adults. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03421-7
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