What We Need to Know About Each of the Vitamin B3s

NA (nicotinic acid/niacin)

  • Discovered in the late 1930’s
  • Though its name sound quite similar to nicotine found in tobacco, the molecules are not related.5
  • Identified as a treatment for pellagra, which is the late stage of severe niacin deficiency. Pellagra was common in the southern US during the early 1900s where income was low and corn products were a major dietary staple.5
  • Found in foods including yeast, meat, fish, milk, eggs, green vegetables, beans, and cereal grains
  • The most commonly recognized Bdue to its use as a treatment for elevated cholesterol for decades
  • Known to cause an uncomfortable side effect called ‘flushing’ when taken as a supplement6
  • Tryptophan can be converted to niacin within the body, although the efficiency of conversion is low in humans6

Nam (nicotinamide)

  • Discovered in the late 1930’s around the same time as NA
  • Though its name sound quite similar to nicotine found in tobacco, the molecules are not related.5
  • Derivative (metabolite) of NA and NR6
  • Sometimes referred to as niacinamide
  • Became popular due to the fact that it is not known to cause flushing
  • The form of niacin typically used in nutritional supplements and in food fortification6
  • “Turns off” longevity promoting proteins within the cells called sirtuins when consumed in higher doses

NR (nicotinamide riboside)

  • Discovered in the 1940’s
  • Though its name sound quite similar to nicotine found in tobacco, the molecules are not related.5
  • Identified as a natural product found in trace amounts in milk in 2004 by Dr. Charles Brenner
  • At the same time, Brenner also discovered the gene (NRK1) which enables NR to boost NAD levels in humans1
  • “Turns on” or activates longevity promoting proteins (Sirt2)
  • Not known to cause flushing

NR is a Next-Generation Form of Vitamin B3

While each of these very similar sounding compounds all belong to the vitamin B3 family, each molecule is structurally unique, and therefore processed in different ways by the body. These differences contribute to the varying effectiveness of each in supporting different aspects of our health.

Pre-clinical studies have proven that there are significant differences in each of the Bmolecule’s ability to effectively support our body’s longevity promoting mechanisms, as well as cellular energy production. Research suggests nicotinamide riboside is the most efficient and effective form of vitamin B3 at boosting NAD levels.7

tree sketch nr nam nad nam

1. Bieganowski, P. & Brenner, C. (2004). Discoveries of nicotinamide riboside as a nutrient and conserved NRK genes establish a Preiss-Handler independent route to NAD+ in fungi and humans. Cell 117, 495-502.

2. Trammel, S. A., Yu, L., Migaud, M.E., Brenner, C.(2016). Nicotinamide riboside is a major NAD+ precursor vitamin in cow milk. Journal of Nutrition, 146(5), 957–63.

3. Chi Y & Suave AA (2013) Nicotinamide riboside, a trace nutrient in foods, is a vitamin B3 with effects on energy metabolism and neuroprotection. Current Opinion in Clin. Nutr. and Metab. Care 16, 657-661.

4. Wylde, B. (2016, October 12). Published studies reveal how a superior form of vitamin B3 called NR may play an important role in helping us enjoy longer, healthier lives – Diet & Nutrition Info and Tips. Retrieved November 02, 2016, from http://www.empowher.com/community/share/published-studies-reveal-how-superior-form-vitamin-b3-called-nr-may-play-im

5. Linus Pauling Institute – Micronutrient Information Center. Niacin. Retrieved October, 2016. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/niacin

6. Higdon, J., PhD., V. J. Drake PhD, B. Delage PhD. Linus Pauling Institute – Micronutrient Information Center. Niacin, Retrieved August, 2016, from http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/niacin

7. Trammell, S. A., Schmidt, M. S., Weidemann, B. J., Redpath, P., Jaksch, F., Dellinger, R. W., Abel, E.D., Migaud, M.E., Brenner, C. (2016). Nicotinamide riboside is uniquely and orally bioavailable in mice and humans. Nature Communications, 7, 12948. doi:10.1038/ncomms12948

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