This new, patented form of vitamin B3 may hold the key for boundless energy and cellular rejuvenation
Energy is a hallmark of youth. So it isn’t surprising that energy production on a cellular level is a focal point of antiaging research. And in that world, a new, patented form of vitamin B3 is gaining more and more attention. Called Niagen nicotinamide riboside, or simply Niagen, the vitamin boosts energy production and enhances a process that makes cells behave as though they were younger.
If you’ve been tracking longevity research, you may have heard of sirtuins, enzymes that are thought to have life-extending properties. “If you increase their supply in cells, they make the cells healthier, more robust,” says Anthony Sauve, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City and a researcher who has been studying the subject for more than two decades.
Studies of flies, worms, and mice have shown that boosting sirtuins extends life. Although it isn’t practical to do similar studies in people because our lifespan is much longer, there’s evidence that we can benefit by enhancing sirtuins—and that Niagen can help.
How It Works
Sirtuins are activated by a substance called NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), which our bodies make from food. But, says Sauve, “Studies show that people, as they get older, lose NAD, and the typical diet doesn’t get them the NAD that they had when they were young.” Consequently, energy production becomes less efficient.Studies of cells, animals, and people have found that Niagen effectively increases levels of NAD, and that the supplement is safe. “If you make more NAD, you’re causing the sirtuin enzymes to accelerate their activities,” says Sauve.
Research Highlights on Niagen
In animal studies, mice that were fed a high-fat diet gained 60 percent less weight with Niagen compared to mice that didn’t receive the supplement, although both groups ate the same amount of food. The supplemented mice also had healthier levels of cholesterol and blood sugar, better endurance, and stronger muscles. In other animal studies, Niagen has been shown to protect against hearing loss from loud noise, reduce Alzheimer’s brain plaques, improve the function of a diseased heart, and help reverse fatty liver disease. A number of human studies are now underway.
The Bottom Line
“There’s evidence now, in humans, that exercise and low-calorie diets can stimulate NAD formation,” says Sauve. When it comes to Niagen, he says, “Something that can produce similar kinds of effects is very, very exciting.”
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