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Is this new supplement the closest thing we have to a wonder pill?

There’s a new supplement in town. Said to increase energy levels, generate metabolism and improve skin Anna Magee explores exactly how it works and tries it herself 

Remember Limitless? Bradley Cooper played Eddie Morra, whose writer’s block led him into the arms of NZT, a pharmaceutical that allowed him to tap his full potential, making him a genius at everything virtually overnight.

Well, this new pill isn’t that. Not exactly.

However, I have been taking NR (an abbreviation for a substance called nicotinamide riboside) since November last year.  While I haven’t learned to use 100 per cent of my brain’s capacities or become a financial wizard as Cooper’s character did, I believe I have supported energy and clear skin.

What is NR?

Nicotinamide riboside chloride or NR is the main ingredient in a supplement (not a medical drug – though it’s made to high standards) that acts as a new form of vitamin B3 whose makers claim it can support the following effects:

  • Reduction of tiredness and fatigue
  • Normal energy-yielding metabolism
  • Maintenance of normal skin
  • Normal mucous membranes
  • Normal psychological function

I’ll get to exactly how it can contribute to such a plethora of bodily functions in a moment.  But perhaps importantly to note, this isn’t some backyard potion but a supplement with years of scientific research behind it.

In fact, in November last year – and this is key to anyone who worries about the safety of new supplements claiming to be wonder pills in the way I do – the European Commission has authorized NR as a novel food.

This is a benchmark they give new supplements and foods (CBD for example is also a novel food status product) to help ensure suppliers are compliant with safety requirements in the EU. It followed a ‘positive opinion’ given to NR in August last year by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) after looking at its safety profile.

nicotinamide riboside new supplement

I first heard about NR in September last year at London’s first Health Optimisation Summit at Olympia where some of the most respected pioneers in anti-ageing were speaking.

The particular talk was by Frank Jaksch, a scientist and co-founder of Chromadex, the US company that has produced the NR supplement, called Tru Niagen, and put millions of dollars into research behind it. I was intrigued by the science.

How does NR work in the body?

NR helps the body create NAD+, a substance that is used to support every human function – and found naturally in our bodies and in trace amounts of milk, in a healthy diet.

Short for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, NAD+ is a molecule found in every living cell in our bodies, playing a role in normal energy yielding metabolism.

At its most simplistic, NAD+ is like a power source to a light bulb; it is the wire, the electron transport mechanism of energy to each cell, Jaksch explains.

‘NAD+ is not new, its participation in cellular metabolism has been known for 100 years,’ says Jaksch. ‘It’s the energy source for production of ATP, which is the body’s chief energy system.

‘NAD+ is attached to the body’s repair enzymes that work to keep the body resilient.

‘The amount of NAD+ you have and how the body uses it is always in a state of flux.’ says Jaksch. ‘NAD+ may contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue, maintenance of normal skin, and a normal mucous membrane, to name a few.’

Additionally, NAD+ helps to maintain the cells’ energy and vitality; however, it is also linked to the aging process in humans.

NAD+ is essential to every function in the body

In fact, when it comes to ageing, scientists have identified nine of its hallmarks – these include genetic damage and key dysfunctioning in the cells – and show that NAD+ is an essential process in these hallmarks [see below].

So, NAD+ is essential to every function in the body, and supporting NAD+ levels contributes to a normal energy yielding metabolism. It works by facilitating the transfer of energy to our cells from the food we consume in a process known as oxidation.

Under normal conditions, whenever our cells need to conduct some specific functions, they demand energy from the bloodstream which is found in the form of fatty acids and glucose.

NAD+ performs the task of getting these energy sources from the blood to the cells which use it resulting in the maintenance of good health. NAD+ is responsible for performing very important biological processes related to eating, drinking, and sleeping.

NR and the scientific research

Over 170 clinical and preclinical studies have been done on NR at universities across the globe including at the universities of Cambridge and Birmingham, 30 of which are human studies.

Five of the human studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals that found that taking NR as a supplement could generate NAD+ levels found in blood.

The largest of these studies was published last year in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. It was a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that followed 140 healthy overweight adults taking three different daily doses of NR – 100mg, 300mg and 1000mg (although this highest dose isn’t available to humans as a consumer product).

nicotinamide adenine new supplement

What was also interesting was that no serious adverse events, on this or any other trial of NR were recorded that were attributed to the product.

So, the way NR works is by essentially generating NAD+, the substance our bodies use to feed each and every one of their cellular processes.

I saw in myself the difference it made to my day to day health, but I also know that NAD+ (internally) also supports cellular energy production,

Supporting our cellular health is something we can all start doing today, and NR is a highly effective product to contribute to a normal physiological function.

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