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Niacin Vs. NMN: Battle For Best Anti-Aging Supplement

Niacin Vs. NMN: Battle For Best Anti-Aging Supplement

Have you ever heard of niacin and NMN (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide)?

These compounds are precursors NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), a coenzyme required in nearly all cell metabolism processes. NAD is an important compound because lower levels of NAD have been proposed to promote aging and degenerative diseases.

Researchers believe that by supplementing NAD levels with niacin or NMN, it's possible to raise NAD levels to support a healthier aging process and, potentially, slow down degenerative diseases.

Today, we're putting these two compounds (niacin vs. NMN) together head-to-head to see how they compare and which one comes out on top.

Key Takeaways: Niacin Vs. NMN

  • Niacin and NMN are precursors to NAD and play an important role in cellular processes.

  • Niacin must be converted into NAD through a multi-step process, while NMN can be directly converted into NAD.

  • Both niacin and NMN can be effective in supporting cellular health and vitality, but they differ in their mechanism of action, efficacy and potency, cost and availability, long-term effects, and potential side effects.

  • There is a lack of direct comparison studies between NMN and niacin examining their respective impacts on lifespan in humans, but some preclinical studies suggest that both compounds may have beneficial effects on aging-related processes.

What Is Niacin?

What is Niacin? Molecular Structure

The terms vitamin B3, nicotinic acid, and niacin are used interchangeably. And it's involved in our metabolic processes, maintaining healthy skin, nerves, and digestion.

The derivatives of nicotinic acid include niacinamide (also called nicotinamide), nicotinamide riboside (NR), and nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN).

Niacin is a main precursor to NAD+, a substance necessary for cellular energy production. Niacin can be obtained from foods we eat but can also be synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan.

As a supplement, B3 has been successfully used for decades to support heart health and lower cholesterol [1]. More recently, B3 is receiving more attention as the secret to the fountain of youth, thanks to its relationship with NAD metabolism [2].

Niacin therapy has been shown to increase NAD levels through a pathway called Preiss Handler.

Before we get to comparing niacin vs. NMN for increasing NAD, it's helpful to take a closer look at both compounds and what they do in the body.

Nicotinic Acid: Where It Comes From

We can find niacin (nicotinic acid) in a variety of food sources, such as meat, fish, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and leafy greens.

Niacin supplementation is another way to get boosted doses of vitamin B3, and it's often used to support plant-based lifestyles to ensure they're meeting adequate niacin requirements.

It's sometimes also used to treat high cholesterol, maintain the skin barrier function, and boost overall energy levels [3, 4].

Forms of Niacin Supplementation

Niacin supplements are available in several different forms, including immediate-release niacin, slow-release niacin, and flush-free niacin.

Slow-release niacin, also known as extended-release niacin or timed-release niacin, is a formulation of niacin that is designed to release the niacin into the body gradually over an extended period of time.

Immediate-release niacin is the most common form, as it's much more rapidly absorbed by the body. However, it can cause flushing—a sensation of warmth and redness in the skin as a side-effect.

The other forms are less likely to cause flushing, but it also means that they may also be less effective.

Drawbacks Of Niacin Supplementation

While niacin supplementation can be beneficial for some people, it does come with some drawbacks.

One of the most common side effects of niacin supplementation is flushing, which isn't necessarily dangerous but can be uncomfortable for some people.

In addition, high doses of niacin can cause liver damage, gastrointestinal issues, and other health problems, especially when combined with certain medications.

Safety Concerns Of Niacin Supplements

Consider speaking with your healthcare provider before starting a niacin supplement, especially if you have a history of liver disease or other health problems.

Some medications can interact with niacin supplements, which is why it's important to disclose all medications you're taking to your healthcare provider.

What Is NMN?

What is NMN? Molecular Structure

NMN is a derivative of nicotinic acid, and it stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide.

Compared to niacin, NMN is a more direct precursor to NAD+ and is converted into NAD+ through a single enzymatic step.

Both niacin and NMN have been shown to increase NAD+ levels in cells, activating certain enzymes and proteins within the cell to initiate DNA repair and manage the stress response [5].

However, NMN is considered to be a more efficient precursor of NAD+ than niacin, as it bypasses some of the enzymatic steps required for niacin to be converted into NAD+.

Where Does NMN Come From?

NMN is derived from nicotinamide riboside (NR), a form of vitamin B3, which can be found in a variety of food sources such as meat, fish, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and leafy greens.

Our bodies can also produce NMN from niacin through a complex metabolic pathway.

Forms Of NMN Supplementation

NMN is available as a dietary supplement in various forms, including capsules, powders, and sublingual tablets. It has gained recent hype for its proposed ability to support a healthier aging process, increase energy levels, enhance cognitive function, and improved muscle strength.

Drawbacks Of NMN Supplementation

While some studies have found that NMN supplementation can improve metabolic function and increase lifespan in mice, human studies are still limited, and more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of NMN supplementation.

Safety Concerns Of NMN Supplements

NMN supplements have been found to be safe and well-tolerated in most healthy individuals. However, it can negatively affect people with a history of liver disease or other health problems.

If you fall into that category, it's advised that you talk to your healthcare provider to mitigate the increased risk of adverse effects.

Niacin vs NMN: Comparison

Niacin VS NMN Supplements

1. Mechanism Of Action

Both niacin and NMN are important for the production of NAD+ and the support of cellular processes, but they differ in their mechanism of action.

Another way to think of it is like a car engine. Niacin is like the fuel that powers the engine, allowing it to run smoothly. Without fuel, the engine cannot function properly.

On the other hand, NMN is like the spark plug that ignites the fuel, allowing the engine to generate power. The fuel cannot be ignited without the spark plug, and the engine cannot generate power.

Niacin must first be converted into NAD+, while NMN can be directly converted into NAD+.

This means that NMN supplementation may lead to more efficient and direct production of NAD+ compared to niacin supplementation. However, both niacin and NMN can be effective in supporting cellular health.

2. Efficacy And Potency

NMN has been shown to be more potent than niacin in increasing NAD+ levels in cells observed in preclinical trials [6].

However, Niacin has been studied for a longer period of time and has been shown to have various health benefits, including improving cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease [3].

3. Cost And Availability

Niacin is widely available as a supplement and is relatively inexpensive. On the other hand, NMN supplements are more expensive and may not be as widely available, but with more research surrounding NMN, we can expect to see it become more accessible.

4. Long-Term Effects

The long-term effects of both niacin and NMN are poorly understood, and more research is needed to determine their safety and efficacy in humans over extended periods.

5. Potential Side Effects

Both niacin and NMN can cause high-dose side effects, including flushing, itching, and gastrointestinal upset. Niacin can also cause liver damage in rare cases, which is why it's so important to speak with a healthcare provider if you're starting new supplements while on treatment for a health condition.

Niacin and NMN: Use cases

Niacin and NMN are two compounds that have been studied for their potential benefits in supporting NAD+ levels, but more broadly for age-related conditions, healthy weight management, and brain health.

Though they've never been studied side-by-side in humans, the findings are promising and can lead to more studies down the road.

Here are some of the use cases for niacin and NMN:

A. Age-related conditions

Niacin and NMN have been studied for their anti-aging potential as precursor compounds to NAD+.

Niacin and NMN have been studied for their anti-aging potential as precursor compounds to NAD+.

NMN has been shown to improve various age-related conditions in mice, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and vision loss [6]. Niacin has also been shown to have potential benefits for age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and cognitive decline in preclinical studies [7].

B. Metabolic disorders

Both niacin and NMN have been studied for their potential benefits in metabolic disorders such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome through different actions.

Both niacin and NMN have been studied for their potential benefits in metabolic disorders such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome through different actions.

Niacin has been shown to have improved lipid metabolism, reduced inflammation, and showed liver fat decreased in patients, while NMN has been shown to improve glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity [8, 9, 10].

C. Athletic performance

Both NAD precursors may support physical performance.

Both NAD precursors may support physical performance.

NMN has been shown to improve endurance and increase muscle strength in mice, and some studies have suggested that it may have similar effects in humans [6].

Niacin has also been found to support NAD+ levels, which improves muscle performance, and adult-onset mitochondrial myopathy, which is a group of genetic disorders that affect mitochondrial function, resulting in muscle weakness and fatigue [11].

D. Cognitive function

NMN and niacin have been studied for their benefits on brain health by increasing overall NAD+ levels

NMN and niacin have been studied for their benefits on brain health by increasing overall NAD+ levels [12].

Niacin has been shown to have potential benefits for cognitive function, including improving memory and attention. NMN has also been studied for its potential cognitive benefits, including improving learning and memory.

While both niacin and NMN have shown potential benefits in the realm of brain health, it's important to note that more research is needed to determine their safety and efficacy in humans.

Frequently Asked Questions About Niacin Vs. NMN

1. What are Niacin and NMN, and how do they differ?

Niacin and NMN are two compounds that are important for cellular health and energy production. Niacin is also known as vitamin B3 and is found in many food sources, while NMN is a derivative of niacin and is found in smaller amounts in some foods.

Niacin is converted into NAD+ through a series of biochemical reactions that involve several enzymes, whereas NMN is converted into NAD+ through just one enzymatic process. This means that NMN may be more efficiently and directly converted into NAD+ compared to niacin.

Another difference between niacin and NMN is their potential side effects. High doses of niacin can cause flushing, itching, and other symptoms, while NMN appears to have a better safety profile, with few reported side effects.

2. How are Niacin and NMN related to NAD+ and cellular health?

Both niacin and NMN are precursors to NAD+, a coenzyme required for many biological processes within the cell.

Supplementation with niacin or NMN can help to support the production of NAD+ and promote cellular health. Some research suggests that increasing NAD+ levels through niacin or NMN supplementation may have a variety of potential health benefits, including improved metabolic function, enhanced cognitive function, and reduced inflammation.

3. What is the recommended dosage and usage of Niacin and NMN supplements?

The recommended dosage of Niacin and NMN supplements varies depending on the specific product and individual needs.

The recommended daily intake for niacin is around 16-18 mg for adult women and 14-16 mg for adult men. However, therapeutic doses of niacin for specific health conditions may be higher, up to several grams per day, but this should be recommended under the advice of a healthcare professional.

NMN supplements are relatively new to the market, and there is no established recommended dosage or usage guideline. The dosages used in clinical studies have ranged from 100-500 mg per day.

4. Can Niacin and NMN supplements be taken together?

No research suggests that niacin and NMN supplements cannot be taken together, but it's important to follow the dosage instructions on each product.

Both niacin and NMN are precursors to NAD+, and taking them together may help to support the production of NAD+ and promote cellular health, but taking too much can also lead to undesired side effects, so it's best that you stick with one and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any reasons you're looking to take two types of NAD precursors.

5. How long does it take to see the benefits of Niacin and NMN supplementation?

The length of time it takes to see the benefits of niacin and NMN supplementation varies depending on the individual and their specific health needs.

Some people may experience immediate benefits, while others may take longer to see the effects. It's important to use supplements consistently and follow the recommended dosage instructions for the best results.

The Takeaway: Niacin Vs. NMN

Niacin and NMN are both important precursors to NAD+ and play a vital role in cellular processes.

Further research is needed to understand better the mechanisms of action of niacin and NMN in the body and how they may be used to prevent and treat age-related conditions, metabolic disorders, athletic performance, and cognitive function.

Since there aren't any studies in humans looking at which one increases NAD most effectively side-by-side, we can't say whether NMN or niacin is the best supplement.

Before starting any supplementation regimen, seek advice from a healthcare professional, use trustworthy supplement brands, and do your research to understand the dosage and user guidelines.

Resources:

  1. Zeman, M., Vecka, M., Perlík, F., Hromádka, R., Staňková, B., Tvrzická, E., & Žák, A. (2015). Niacin in the treatment of hyperlipidemias in light of new clinical trials: has niacin lost its place?. Medical science monitor: international medical journal of experimental and clinical research, 21, 2156.

  2. Hara, N., Yamada, K., Shibata, T., Osago, H., Hashimoto, T., & Tsuchiya, M. (2007). Elevation of cellular NAD levels by nicotinic acid and involvement of nicotinic acid phosphoribosyltransferase in human cells. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 282(34), 24574-24582.

  3. Ganji, S. H., Kamanna, V. S., & Kashyap, M. L. (2003). Niacin and cholesterol: role in cardiovascular disease. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry, 14(6), 298-305.

  4. Tanno, O., Ota, Y., Kitamura, N., Katsube, T., & Inoue, S. (2000). Nicotinamide increases biosynthesis of ceramides as well as other stratum corneum lipids to improve the epidermal permeability barrier. British Journal of Dermatology, 143(3), 524-531.

  5. Nadeeshani, H., Li, J., Ying, T., Zhang, B., & Lu, J. (2022). Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) as an anti-aging health product–promises and safety concerns. Journal of advanced research, 37, 267-278.

  6. Shade, C. (2020). The science behind NMN–A stable, reliable NAD+ activator and anti-aging molecule. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal, 19(1), 12.

  7. Moutinho, M., Tsai, A. P., Puntambekar, S. S., Patel, J., Lin, P. B., Jadhav, V., ... & Landreth, G. E. (2020). Therapeutic potential of niacin in Alzheimer's disease: Nonhuman/Target identification and validation studies: Other. Alzheimer's & Dementia, 16, e040679.

  8. Liu, D., Wang, X., Kong, L., & Chen, Z. (2015). Nicotinic Acid Regulates Glucose and Lipid Metabolism Through Lipidindependent Pathways. Current pharmaceutical biotechnology, 16(1), 3-10.

  9. Hu, M., Chu, W. C. W., Yamashita, S., Yeung, D. K. W., Shi, L., Wang, D., ... & Tomlinson, B. (2012). Liver fat reduction with niacin is influenced by DGAT-2 polymorphisms in hypertriglyceridemic patients. Journal of lipid research, 53(4), 802-809.

  10. Fukamizu, Y., Uchida, Y., Shigekawa, A., Sato, T., Kosaka, H., & Sakurai, T. (2022). Safety evaluation of β-nicotinamide mononucleotide oral administration in healthy adult men and women. Scientific Reports, 12(1), 14442.

  11. Pirinen, E., Auranen, M., Khan, N. A., Brilhante, V., Urho, N., Pessia, A., ... & Suomalainen, A. (2020). Niacin cures systemic NAD+ deficiency and improves muscle performance in adult-onset mitochondrial myopLautrup, S., Sinclair, D. A., Mattson, M. P., & Fang, E. F. (2019). NAD+ in brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders. Cell metabolism, 30(4), 630-655.athy. Cell metabolism, 31(6), 1078-1090.

  12. Lautrup, S., Sinclair, D. A., Mattson, M. P., & Fang, E. F. (2019). NAD+ in brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders. Cell metabolism, 30(4), 630-655.

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Katrina Lubiano

Based in Canada, Katrina is an experienced content writer and editor specializing in health and wellness. With a journalistic approach, she's crafted over 900,000 words on supplements, striving to debunk myths and foster a holistic approach to healthier living through well-informed choices.


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