Which NAD+ Precursor is Best for You?


Are you on a quest for longevity and good health, kind of like Benjamin Button, searching for the best way to slow down aging and boost those NAD+ levels in your body? Well, we all age, but staying healthy and looking younger is a whole different ball game. Just tell someone in their fifties that they look like they’re in their forties, and watch their face light up! Healthy aging hinges on your body’s metabolic functions running smoothly, and one key player in that process is NAD+.

In this regard, two supplements have recently gained significant attention, Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN) and Nicotinamide Riboside (NR).

NMN and NR are like Mario and Luigi of the anti-aging world, except they just won’t stomp on Goombas. They work their magic behind the scenes.

NMN and NR act as biological precursors to NAD+. According to research, supplementing with any of these precursors increases NAD levels leading to healthier aging.

However, the question arises if their basic effects are the same, what makes NMN different from NR? When it comes to choosing between NMN and NR, the waters get a bit murky. Which one is more effective? Which one offers better bioavailability? And most importantly, which one is the right fit for your health goals and lifestyle?

In this article, we’ll break down the complexities surrounding these two NAD+ precursors, Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN) and Nicotinamide Riboside (NR), in a breeze.

So, let’s get started on this straightforward journey – no PhD required.

What Are NMN and NR?

NMN and NR are NAD+ precursors, which means that they can become NAD+ through chemical transformation. They are both derivatives of Niacin, long-lost cousins of Vitamin B3.

NAD+ is like an MVP (Most Valuable Player) in every cell of your body. It is responsible for maintaining cell metabolism, DNA health, and other metabolic processes.

But here’s the twist in the story, the levels of NAD+ decrease naturally with age. Over time, the superhero runs low on power and this is where the precursors NMN and NR, the molecular avengers, come into play. Let’s have a brief look at the basics of each of these precursors.

NMN | The Basics

Nicotinamide mononucleotide or NMN is a naturally occurring molecule tha is found in every living cell of every form of life. It is a nucleotide, a basic structural unit of the nucleic acid RNA, and is composed of a nicotinamide group, a ribose, and a phosphate group.

NMN is a precursor of Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), thus playing a key player in the NAD+ biosynthetic pathway.

Due to its ability to boost NAD+ levels effectively, thereby enhancing cellular functions and potentially slowing down the aging process.

NR | The Essentials

Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) is a pyridine nucleoside. It is a form of vitamin B3 which functions as a precursor to NAD+

NR has gained attention for its high bioavailability and its potential to improve mitochondrial function.

Both NMN and NR have been the subject of extensive scientific research, exploring their potential in areas ranging from neuroprotection to metabolic health.

However, despite their similarities, they have distinct characteristics that may make one more suitable for your specific health needs than the other.

How Do NMN and NR Work?

Chemistry, for the nerds.

While both NMN and NR function as precursors to NAD+, they take different routes to achieve the same goal, enhancing cellular energy and function. Let’s break down their mechanisms of action.

NMN: The NAD+ Booster

NMN is converted to NAD+ through a series of chemical transformations. Usually, foods from standard diets contain B3 vitamins which are nicotinamide (NAM), Nicotinic acid (NA), and Nicotinamide riboside (NR). Once inside cells, NR converts to NMN via enzymes called NRKs.

Upon synthesis, these molecules enter a specific pathway leading to NAD+ synthesis. This pathway is known as the “nicotinamide core recycling pathway.” In this pathway, the enzyme NMN adenylyltransferase (NMNAT) converts NMN to NAD+.

Later, these NAD+ molecules are utilized by proteins called sirtuins that play a significant role in maintaining cellular health. These NAD+ are used in various cellular processes, including the Krebs cycle for energy production and the PARP enzymes for DNA repair.

NR: The Efficient Pathway

While NMN is directly converted to NAD+ through enzymatic action, NR follows a two-step pathway to form NAD+. Once inside the cells, NR is first converted to nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) with the help of NRKs.

The second step involves the nicotinamide core recycling pathway which has been discussed earlier. In this pathway, the enzyme NMNAT converts NMN to NAD+.

So, we can say that this process may slightly be less direct than the NMN pathway.

By understanding the distinct metabolic pathways of NMN and NR, you can make an informed decision about which supplement is more aligned with your health goals.

Similarities Between NMN and NR

NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) and NR (nicotinamide riboside) are two popular NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) precursors that share some similarities.

Chemical Structures

NMN and NR are biosynthetic precursors to NAD+ and have similar molecular structures. The main difference is that NMN has an added phosphate group, making it a larger molecule than NR.

Conversion Process

Some scientists believe that NMN is too large to cross cellular membranes and must convert to NR before entering cells, where NAD+ biosynthesis occurs. Once inside cells, NR gets converted to NMN via enzymes called NRKs. This conversion process allows both NMN and NR to contribute to NAD+ production.

Safety and Efficacy

Both NMN and NR have been shown to effectively increase NAD+ levels in humans and are considered safe for consumption. However, there is ongoing debate about which precursor is more efficient in terms of safety and efficacy.

Voices from the frontline | Testimonials

Some individuals who have tried both NMN and NR supplements claim that NMN has stronger effects, such as increased energy levels, while others prefer NR. These testimonials may vary depending on individual experiences and preferences.

Unveiled Scientific Adventures

There is a growing number of completed and ongoing human clinical trials studying the effects of NMN and NR on specific aspects of human physiology or performance. However, there is currently no direct comparison between the two precursors in human studies.

Common Ground: Sirtuins Activation

So we see that the activation of the protein Sirtuins is a common ground in both cases. Sirtuins are a family of proteins that regulate cellular health. They play a role in extending lifespan and improving healthspan, making NMN and NR attractive options for those interested in longevity and wellness.

phew, let’s take a break and take a look at an interesting fact:

In lab studies, NR was shown to protect mice from age-related noise-induced hearing loss. How did this happen? Well, studies revealed that NR triggers Sirtuins expression which in turn boosts NAD+ production. The effects mediated by the NAD+ were found to prevent noise-induced hearing loss in the mice.

Getting back to work now! Let’s head towards some differences between NMN and NR.

Differences Between NMN and NR

More chemistry, for the nerds.

While NMN and NR share some core similarities, they also have distinct characteristics that may influence your choice between the two. Here’s a breakdown:


To be transported inside the cell, NMN has to be converted into NR, which adds an extra step to its metabolic pathway. This has led some to argue that NR might be more bioavailable. However, recent studies suggest that an elusive transporter can transport NMN directly into the cells, bypassing the need to be converted to NR. Therefore, NMN is rapidly absorbed and utilized, making the bioavailability of both compounds relatively comparable.


NMN tends to be more expensive than NR, primarily due to the complexity of its synthesis. If cost is a significant factor for you, NR might be the more economical choice without sacrificing too much in terms of benefits.

Research Backing

Both compounds have been studied for their potential health benefits, but NR currently has a slight edge in terms of the volume of research. It has been the subject of more clinical trials, particularly in the context of aging and metabolic health.

Side Effects

Both NMN and NR are generally considered safe and well-tolerated. However, some users have reported mild side effects like nausea or digestive discomfort with NR, while NMN is often cited as being easier on the stomach.

Why Choose NMN Over NR?

When it comes to NAD+ precursors, both NMN and NR have their merits. However, there are compelling reasons to consider NMN as the superior option, especially when bioavailability is a concern.

Enhanced Bioavailability

One of the most significant advantages of NMN is its superior bioavailability. NMN is rapidly converted into NAD+ once ingested, ensuring that more of the compound is utilized by the body.

According to Dr. David Sinclair, a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and the author of the book “Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Dont Have To”, when you take NMM supplementation, it is taken up by a transporter and then directly converted to NAD+ in a single step. This quick conversion rate means that you’re likely to experience the benefits of increased NAD+ levels more rapidly and possibly more effectively with NMN.

Cutting-Edge Research

While both compounds are backed by scientific studies, NMN has been the subject of more recent research, particularly in the context of anti-aging and longevity.

Did you know?

NMN can potentially lower the levels of inflammation that begin to rise during aging (a term recognized as inflammaging). Studies also revealed that NMN may also amp up your stem cell health, helping these cells live longer and replicate more.

The cutting-edge research gives a solution for those who are looking for the latest and most advanced options in the market.

Versatility in Administration

NMN can be administered in various forms, including sublingual tablets, which bypass the digestive system and enter the bloodstream directly. This enhances its bioavailability even further, making it a more flexible option for those who are particular about the efficacy of their supplements.

Targeted Health Benefits

NMN seems to offer more targeted benefits for specific health conditions, such as neurodegenerative diseases and severe metabolic issues. If you have particular health concerns that require more than just a general boost in well-being, NMN might be the better fit for you.

Side Effects of NMN and NR

NMN Side Effects

NMN is generally considered safe, and no major side effects have been reported in humans. However, in a few cases, NMN intake has been linked to Gastrointestinal Issues. Some users have reported mild gastrointestinal discomfort, including bloating and diarrhea, particularly when starting NMN supplementation.

Moreover, due to its role in cellular metabolism, NMN might cause sleep disturbances in some individuals, especially when taken close to bedtime.

If you’re on medication for blood pressure or diabetes, consult your healthcare provider as NMN could potentially interact with these medications.

NR Side Effects

NR has been known to cause stomach upset in some individuals, particularly when taken on an empty stomach. Furthermore, some users have reported feeling fatigued after starting NR supplementation, although this is not a common side effect.

Another less common side effect is skin flushing. Some people experience skin flushing similar to what is experienced with high doses of niacin.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I take both NMN and NR?

Technically, yes, you can take both NMN and NR, as they serve the same primary function of boosting NAD+ levels. However, it’s not necessarily more beneficial to take both. If you’re considering this approach, consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

How do I choose between NMN and NR?

The choice between NMN and NR depends on several key factors. Bioavailability is one consideration, with NMN showing potential for more efficient absorption by the body. Cost is another factor, as NMN tends to be pricier than NR, which might be a budgetary concern.

Personal health goals play a crucial role, as one of these compounds may be better suited to your specific needs and conditions. It’s advisable to consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance, ensuring you make the right choice for your individual health and wellness objectives.

Are there natural sources of NMN and NR?

Both NMN and NR are naturally occurring compounds, with NMN found in foods like edamame, broccoli, and tomatoes, while NR is present in milk, yeast, and beer. However, the quantities of these compounds in these foods are quite minimal compared to what you can get from supplements.

NMN and NR through Natural resources or supplements? Which is a better option?

If you’re aiming to maximize the potential benefits of NMN or NR, supplements are a more reliable option, as they provide a concentrated and consistent source of these compounds for specific health and wellness purposes.

What is the recommended dosage?

When it comes to NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide) and NR (Nicotinamide Riboside) supplementation, dosages vary within a range of 250mg to 500mg per day. In the case of NR, typical recommended dosages hover around 300mg per day, but, as with NMN, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for tailored advice based on individual needs and health considerations.

What about NAD patches?

This is a completely different mechanism, but also interesting. For more, check out this article on NAD+ Patches.

About the Author

David William Rosales is a writer and strength coach. He’s the head trainer and editor at Roman Fitness Systems. In addition to helping run RFS, he’s also the head editor for
prohockeystrength.com., the official website of the Strength and Conditioning Association of Professional Hockey. You can also check out his Instagram, he’s pretty easy on the eyes.

Source link: https://romanfitnesssystems.com/articles/nmn-vs-nr/ by David Rosales at romanfitnesssystems.com