To find out, we met up with a leading researcher of the compound, Dr. Charles Brenner, Roy J. Carver Chair of Biochemistry at the University of Iowa and the chief scientific adviser for ChromaDex, maker of the branded NR called Niagen.
“Nicotinamide riboside is the most recently discovered vitamin precursor of NAD,” he told us at the Nutrition 2018 in Boston last weekend, which was organized by the American Society for Nutrition.
NAD itself stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, a coenzyme found in all living cells. “Everything that our body does in converting fuel into energy, in maintaining blood glucose…all of that requires NAD metabolisms,” he said. A decline in NAD has been linked to senescence of cells.
ChromaDex, the company Dr. Brenner advises, has funded many studies on the vitamin and developed a commercial version of the ingredient for a period of years.
Studies on NR have suggested that Niagen boosts NAD levels in human tissue, in turns suggesting future avenues of research in blood pressure and arterial stiffness. Another recent study, in mice, suggested that Niagen may prevent neurological damage and improve cognitive and physical function.
Early this year, the company switched gears form being a supplier of the ingredient to a maker of finished products containing their branded NR.
According to Dr. Brenner, the next steps in research are more studies in humans. "It's going to be very important to translate [animal study results] to human populations. First we've established human safety in a number of clinical trials, first in healthy adults, subsequently in overweight and obese adults," he said.
To learn more about the studies that have been done on NR, and the links scientists have found between the ingredient and interactions in the human body that potentially gives it an anti-aging effect, watch the video above.