Niagen is a patented form of nicotinamide riboside, a type of vitamin B3 most often found as a single ingredient in supplements. It may be added to nutrition bars and other products in the future. Trace amounts of nicotinamide riboside are naturally present in some foods, but in quantities too small to be therapeutic. A human study found that a single 100-mg dose of Niagen effectively elevated levels of NAD.
Along with other B vitamins, B3 helps convert carbohydrates into energy, improves circulation, helps control inflammation, and is used to make hormones. Niagen and other forms of B3 work in different ways, and one does not replace another. Here’s a rundown of the most common forms of vitamin B3 found in supplements:
Niacin: This sometimes has the unpleasant side effect of flushing. In high doses, niacin increases levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol, and can relieve menstrual cramps. Some multivitamins, B-complex products, and energy formulas contain it. Extended-release formulas may diminish flushing.
Niacinamide: Niacinamide is a common form of vitamin B3 found in multivitamins, B-complex formulas, and energy-enhancing products. It does not cause flushing and does not have the same cholesterol-related benefits as niacin.
Inositol hexaniacinate: Used to lower cholesterol, this form is considered to be nonflushing. It’s typically sold as a single-ingredient supplement, in some B-complex products, and in formulas for heart health and menstrual cramps.