NR is a Next-Generation Form of Vitamin B3

NR stands for nicotinamide riboside which is a member of the vitamin B3 family. It can be found naturally in trace amounts in milk.1,2 Other milk-derived products such as whey and yeast-containing foods are also presumed as natural sources of NR.3 
The Vitamin B3 Family – Related but Different

Vitamin B3‘s are in a class called water-soluble vitamins and are known for their role in activating cellular energy production. Which is why they are sometimes referred to as the “ener-b’s.”4

Within the vitamin B3 family, there are three individual members: niacin (also known as nicotinic acid or NA), nicotinamide (sometimes referred to as niacinamide or NAM) and nicotinamide riboside (NR). None of the forms are related to the nicotine found in tobacco, although their names are similar.

While, it is true that each of these very similar sounding compounds all belong to the vitamin B3 family, it is important for you to think of this group of individuals more like extended family than immediate family. What do we mean by that, exactly? While they share some similarities, like extended families share some genetic commonalities and possibly the same last name, each molecule’s structural uniqueness causes them to be used differently by the body. These differences contribute to the varying effectiveness of each in the various endpoints for which they have been studied.

Pre-clinical studies7 have proven that there are significant differences in each of the B3 molecule’s ability to effectively support our body’s longevity promoting mechanisms, as well as cellular energy production.

What We Need to Know About Each of the Vitamin B3s


NA (nicotinic acid/niacin)

  • Discovered in the late 1930’s
  • 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
  • Derivative (metabolite) of NA6 and NR
  • 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
  • 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
To better understand these critical differences, you must understand more about the body’s key to unlocking cellular energy production – and that is called NAD+.



  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
  5. Linus Pauling Institute – Micronutrient Information Center. Niacin. Retrieved October, 2016.
  6. Higdon, J., PhD., V. J. Drake PhD, B. Delage PhD. Linus Pauling Institute – Micronutrient Information Center. Niacin, Retrieved August, 2016, from
  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
  8. Nature Education. (2014). Cell Energy and Cell Functions. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from
  9. Belenky, P., Racette, K.L., Bogan, K.L., McClure, J.M., Smith, J.S. & Brenner, C. (2007). Nicotinamide Riboside Promotes Sir2 Silencing and Extends Lifespan via Nrk and Urh1/Pnp1/Meu1 Pathways to NAD+. Cell 129, 473-484