When it comes to proving a new ingredient or method to science, there’s a lot of milestones that need to take place before it becomes viable in the eyes of the scientific and mainstream communities. A human clinical trial is one of these major steps. Not only does this confirm that an ingredient was safe enough to even be considered for use, but also is a major step beyond animal trials, the first step. The human and animal bodies are very different, so once a clinical trial for humans takes place, good results go for much more.
This is why it’s such big news that a groundbreaking human clinical trial has given new insight into nicotinamide riboside(NR). This form of vitamin B3 that could have major ramifications for aging support going forward. Studies have shown effects in mice before, but this means a great deal more for NR and its Niagen format.1
Why Does This Matter?
You may have already invested in cosmetic or nutritional approaches for aging support. However, Niagen works towards handling this issue at the cellular level. Part of the good work Niagen does has already been proven in the past. For example, we already know that vitamin B3 helps support heart health, lower cholesterol. The same applies to brain health and glucose regulation.2 However, there is now a solution to tackle this at the cellular level.
At the moment, there are few commercial products on the market to take advantage of nicotinamide riboside, one of which is Niagen. Niagen has been scientifically proven to have the following effects:
- Increases NAD+ levels in cells and tissues. NAD+ is a stem cell that plays a vital role in several health processes. Producing higher levels of this is one of the major reasons to use Niagen.
- Supports healthy skin.
- Promotes mitochondrial function which is an important component of aging.
- Promotes beneficial effects on blood lipids by maintaining healthy cholesterol levels already within normal range.3
Why is this so important? The body naturally produces vitamin B3 as we grow, and can also be found in dietary sources like beets, fish, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and liver. However, the body produces less and less of this naturally as we age. 4 On top of this, low levels of B Vitamins may negatively affect us in various ways as we age, especially with cognitive function.5
Of course, it’s important to know exactly how the story plays out. The research, reported in the journal Nature Communications, led by Charles Brenner, Ph.D., professor and Roy J. Carver Chair of Biochemistry at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in collaboration with colleagues at Queens University Belfast and ChromaDex Corp. which supplied the NR used in the trial. This is the product Niagen, the only commercial nicotinamide riboside product on the market.
Six men and six women, all otherwise healthy, took part in the trial. Each participant received single oral doses of 100 mg, 300 mg, or 1,000 mg of NR. This took place in different sequences with a seven-day gap between doses. Following each dose, blood and urine samples were collected and analyzed to show measured levels of a cell metabolite—known as NAD+. As levels of NAD+ decrease with age, some believe that they may play a role in cellular decline.
The end results showed that using nicotinamide riboside increased NAD+ metabolism by amounts directly related to the dose. In addition, there were no major side effects.
“This trial shows that oral NR safely boosts human NAD+ metabolism,” Brenner says. “We are excited because everything we are learning from animal systems indicates that the effectiveness of NR depends on preserving and/or boosting NAD+ and related compounds in the face of metabolic stresses. Because the levels of supplementation in mice that produce beneficial effects are achievable in people, it appears that health benefits of NR will be translatable to humans safely.”
Brenner had also done a bit of prior testing to this himself, taking things into his own hands. Prior to the trial, he performed a pilot study on himself using Niagen. This was in 2004, where he discovered that that NR is a natural product found in milk and that there is a pathway to convert NR to NAD+ in people. To test this, he took 1 gram of Niagen once a day for seven days, while having his blood and urine samples tested.
The experiment showed that Brenner’s blood NAD+ increased by about 2.7 times. “While this was unexpected, I thought it might be useful,” Brenner says. “NAD+ is an abundant metabolite and it is sometimes hard to see the needle move on levels of abundant metabolites. But when you can look at a low-abundance metabolite that goes from undetectable to easily detectable, there is a great signal to noise ratio, meaning that NAAD levels could be a useful biomarker for tracking increases in NAD+ in human trials.” This finding led to enough of a premise to lead to the greater clinical study. However, there are still more studies to come.
In the future, look out for Niagen trials for longer durations, as well as tests on people dealing with diseases and health conditions, including elevated cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes, and people at risk for chemotherapeutic peripheral neuropathy. At the moment, it’s clear that Niagen produces the desired biological result. The next step is showing that this leads directly to health benefits.