NMN vs NR: What Are the Differences as NAD+ Precursor?

Updated on December 27, 2023
NMN vs NR: What Are the Differences as NAD+ Precursor?
Key Points
  • NMN and NR are NAD+ precursors with potential anti-aging benefits, but differ in their cellular pathways and bioavailability.
  • Both NMN and NR effectively increase NAD+ levels, but individual responses can vary due to age and metabolism.
  • While generally safe in the short-term, long-term safety data for both NMN and NR is limited.

The search for the fountain of youth has led us to the remarkable discovery of two potent molecules: Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN) and Nicotinamide Riboside (NR). These groundbreaking compounds have emerged at the forefront of anti-aging research, offering a glimpse into a future where aging is not just slowed but potentially reversed.

This article delves into the science behind NMN and NR, exploring their roles in enhancing longevity and vitality. From their biochemical pathways to their efficacy and safety profiles, we uncover the promising potential these molecules hold in redefining our approach to aging and health.

The Rising Popularity of NMN and NR

In the quest for longevity and vitality, two compounds have gained significant attention: Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN) and Nicotinamide Riboside (NR). These NAD+ precursors are heralded for their potential anti-aging properties, sparking interest among scientists and health enthusiasts alike.

Understanding NAD+ and Its Role in Aging

NAD+, or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, plays a crucial role in cellular metabolism and energy production. As we age, NAD+ levels decline, leading to various age-related health issues. Supplementing with NMN and NR is believed to replenish these vital levels, potentially reversing signs of aging at a cellular level.

NMN vs NR: Which Is Better?

When it comes to choosing between NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) and NR (nicotinamide riboside) as NAD+ precursors, the scientific community has yet to reach a consensus. While both supplements have shown promise in boosting NAD+ levels and offering health benefits, the question of which is superior is complex and multifaceted.

In the following sections, we will explore these differences in greater detail, examining the scientific evidence that highlights the distinct advantages and considerations associated with NMN and NR. By understanding their individual properties, we can make informed decisions about their use in the context of health optimization and longevity.

NMN vs NR in Pathways

Pathways of NMN and NR to NAD+

Both NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) and NR (nicotinamide riboside) are vital precursors to NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), playing significant roles in cellular metabolism and energy production. While they share a common goal in NAD+ synthesis, their pathways to this crucial molecule differ, reflecting their unique molecular structures and functions.

NMN's Pathway

NMN's role in the NAD+ biosynthesis pathway is intricately linked to its molecular structure. As a larger molecule due to its additional phosphate group, NMN undergoes a specific process to contribute to NAD+ production. In the body, NMN is converted into nicotinamide mononucleotide adenyltransferase (NMNAT), an enzyme responsible for the conversion of NMN to NAD+. This conversion is crucial in replenishing NAD+ levels, especially in response to DNA damage and oxidative stress.

There is a debate regarding NMN's ability to directly penetrate cell membranes. Some scientists suggest that NMN must first convert to NR before entering the cell due to its larger size. However, recent discoveries indicate the existence of NMN transporters, which might allow NMN to directly enter cells and participate in NAD+ biosynthesis.

NR's Pathway

NR, being smaller than NMN, has a slightly different pathway in contributing to NAD+ biosynthesis. Once inside the body, NR is readily converted into nicotinamide riboside kinase (NRK), an enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of NR to NMN. This step is critical as it positions NR as a more direct precursor to NAD+, bypassing some of the steps that NMN requires.

The NR pathway is often highlighted for its efficiency in elevating NAD+ levels, particularly in tissues like the liver and skeletal muscle. This efficiency is partly due to NR's ability to enter cells more easily compared to NMN, given its smaller size and the absence of the phosphate group.

In summary, while both NMN and NR are crucial for boosting NAD+ levels, essential for cellular health and metabolism, they follow distinct pathways due to their unique molecular structures. Understanding these differences is key to appreciating how they each contribute to anti-aging and longevity efforts, potentially offering targeted approaches in health and wellness.

NMN vs NR in Efficacy

The efficacy of NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) and NR (nicotinamide riboside) in elevating NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) levels is a focal point of contemporary research in the field of anti-aging and longevity. Both compounds have shown promising results in clinical trials, underscoring their potential in enhancing cellular health and metabolic functions.

NMN Efficacy

Clinical trials have provided compelling evidence for NMN's efficacy as a direct NAD+ precursor. A notable study demonstrated that NMN significantly increased blood NAD+ concentrations in participants, particularly at higher doses of 600 mg and 900 mg. This increase in NAD+ levels suggests that NMN is efficiently processed and utilized by the body to replenish this vital coenzyme. The dose-dependent response also indicates a scalable efficacy of NMN, reinforcing its role in boosting cellular NAD+ levels and potentially offering benefits in cellular repair, energy metabolism, and aging-related processes [1].

NR Efficacy

Similarly, NR has shown significant efficacy in increasing NAD+ levels. In a study focusing on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), NR supplementation resulted in a marked 60% increase in NAD+ levels compared to a placebo. This substantial elevation of NAD+ through NR supplementation confirms its effectiveness in enhancing NAD+ metabolism. NR's ability to boost NAD+ levels efficiently positions it as a viable and potent NAD+ precursor, with implications for improving cellular health and potentially combating age-related decline [2].

In essence, both NMN and NR have demonstrated remarkable efficacy in elevating NAD+ levels, each employing its unique mechanism and conversion rate. The significance of these findings lies in the central role of NAD+ in a myriad of physiological processes, including energy production, DNA repair, and cellular signaling. The enhancement of NAD+ through NMN and NR supplementation could therefore have profound implications on health, aging, and longevity.

NMN vs NR in Safety

We will explore what researches have found for safety of NMN and NR in terms of short-term, long-term and high dosage.

NMN Safety

Short-Term Safety

NMN has been shown to be safe in short-term human studies. A study with daily oral administration of 1250 mg for up to 4 weeks in healthy adults reported no severe adverse events and good tolerability​​.

Long-Term Safety

Long-term human safety data for NMN is limited, necessitating further research to understand its long-term implications. The longest-term study found for NMN involved a 12-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. In this study, 36 healthy middle-aged participants received 125 mg NMN or a placebo twice a day, totaling 250 mg/day. The study concluded that long-term NMN supplementation at this dosage was well-tolerated and did not cause adverse events ​[3​].

High Dose Tolerance

NMN is well-tolerated at high doses (up to 1250 mg daily) in short-term studies without significant adverse effects [​4]​.

NR Safety

Short-Term Safety

NR has also been found safe in short-term studies. A study in PD patients demonstrated that NR at a dose of 3000 mg daily is well tolerated over 4 weeks [​5]​.

NR Long-Term Safety

Like NMN, long-term human studies on NR are still needed to fully assess its safety profile over extended periods. For NR, the longest-term study conducted to date was a two-year trial. Initially, 10 participants (7 children and 3 adults) were given 150 mg of NR per day. The dose was gradually increased to 300 mg per day and then to the final dose of 500 mg per day. This study reported no adverse effects over the two-year period, indicating relatively long-term safety of NR


High Dose Tolerance

NR is well-tolerated at high doses, with a study showing good tolerability for doses up to 3000 mg daily without significant adverse events ​[5]​.

Both NMN and NR exhibit a positive safety profile in the short term and at high doses, but more comprehensive long-term studies are necessary to confirm these findings over extended periods.

NMN vs NR in Bioavailability

Bioavailability plays a pivotal role in the effectiveness of supplements, particularly in compounds like NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) and NR (nicotinamide riboside). It refers to the degree and speed at which a substance is absorbed into the bloodstream and begins to exert its therapeutic effects. In the case of NMN and NR, assessing bioavailability involves measuring how quickly and efficiently these compounds, or the NAD+ levels they generate, are present in the blood following ingestion.

NMN Bioavailability

In animal studies, oral administration of NMN at 300 mg/kg resulted in a substantial rise in blood plasma NMN levels, peaking around 10 minutes after intake [7]. This rapid absorption is noteworthy, indicating NMN's swift action in the body. Furthermore, these studies showed that NMN intake led to a significant increase in NAD+ levels within just 30 minutes, underscoring its quick and effective bioavailability.

Human trials conducted in 2023 further confirmed NMN's bioavailability. These trials revealed that blood NAD+ concentrations significantly increased in groups treated with NMN, particularly at higher doses of 600 mg and 900 mg daily [8]. This dose-dependent increase in NAD+ levels showcases NMN's efficient absorption and metabolism in the human body.

NR Bioavailability

NR has undergone more extensive human research regarding bioavailability. Studies demonstrated that a single oral dose of NR could elevate blood NAD+ levels substantially, with increases up to 2.7 times in some subjects [8]. These findings indicate a dose-responsive relationship, with higher doses of NR (100, 300, and 1000 mg) leading to greater increases in blood NAD+ levels.

Another significant study observed that oral supplementation of NR effectively raised NAD+ levels in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) by about 60% compared to a placebo [9]. This substantial elevation of NAD+ signifies NR's high bioavailability and its potential as a powerful NAD+ precursor.

In conclusion, both NMN and NR demonstrate significant bioavailability, efficiently entering the bloodstream and effectively increasing NAD+ levels. This characteristic underlines their potential as powerful supplements in anti-aging and health optimization strategies, offering tangible benefits in cellular health and metabolic functions.

NMN vs NR in Clinical Trial Data

The landscape of clinical trials for NAD+ precursors like NMN and NR paints a picture of potential versus established proof. While the number of studies may reflect current scientific exploration, the emerging data on NMN is particularly promising.

NMN Clinital Trial Data

NMN, with 7 completed clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov database, is on the cusp of a scientific breakthrough [10]. While this figure may seem modest in comparison to NR's 24 completed studies, it's the compelling nature of NMN's results that stands out. The absence of any terminated or suspended NMN studies is a testament to its consistent performance in clinical settings. The increase in blood NAD+ concentrations noted in these trials, particularly at doses of 600 mg and 900 mg, underlines NMN's high potential efficacy, suggesting a powerful impact even with a lesser quantity of research.

NR Clinical Data

NR's clinical trial portfolio is extensive, with 24 completed studies. This volume of research provides a solid proof of concept for NR's efficacy in raising NAD+ levels. The ongoing 10 recruiting and 4 active trials for NR demonstrate a sustained interest in fully mapping out its capabilities and confirming its role as a reliable NAD+ precursor.

NMN's Emerging Significance

Despite the numerical advantage in NR's clinical trial data, NMN's research outcomes are capturing scientific and public interest. The forward momentum of NMN's clinical trials, with 5 actively recruiting, suggests a burgeoning recognition of its therapeutic promise. The absence of suspended or unknown status studies for NMN indicates a clear trajectory towards understanding and harnessing its full potential.

This focused and growing body of research on NMN may indicate a strategic shift in the scientific community, looking to unlock the untapped potential of NMN that could redefine the standards of NAD+ precursor efficacy.

Natural Sources of NMN and NR

While the scientific community is abuzz with the potential of NMN and NR supplements in anti-aging and health optimization, nature has been ahead of the curve. Various foods naturally contain these compounds, making them a vital part of our diets. Here, we delve into the sources of NMN and NR, exploring how to harness the power of these nutrients through our daily meals.

Natural NMN Sources

NMN, a precursor to the crucial coenzyme NAD+, is not just a product of scientific innovation but also a component of certain foods. While the concentration of NMN in foods is relatively low compared to supplements, incorporating these into your diet can contribute to maintaining healthy NAD+ levels.

These foods include broccoli, avocado and more. Learn more about naturally NMN dense foods in our comprehensive article "How to Get NMN Naturally: Top 9 NMN Food Sources".

Natural NR Sources

NR is also present in various foods. While its concentration in these sources is also lower compared to supplements, they play a significant role in a balanced diet.

Here are natural NR sources:

  1. Dairy Products: Milk is a known source of NR. Including milk or other dairy products in your diet can help in maintaining adequate levels of NR, thereby supporting NAD+ synthesis.

  2. Beer and Yeast: Beer, due to its yeast content, contains NR. However, it's important to consume beer in moderation due to its alcohol content.

  3. Fish and Meat: Similar to NMN, fish like tuna and salmon, along with chicken and beef, are sources of NR.

  4. Whole Grains and Seeds: Whole grains such as barley and seeds like chia seeds contain NR, adding another reason to include these in your diet.

Storage and Stability: Ensuring the Potency of Your Supplements

Understanding their chemical stability and employing proper storage techniques are crucial for maintaining the efficacy of NMN and NR supplements. Below is a detailed guide on how to store these supplements effectively and what you need to know about their stability over time.

Stability of NMN and NR

When considering stability of NMN and NR, there are two main factors that affect their stability.

  1. Chemical Nature: Both NMN and NR are sensitive to environmental factors due to their chemical structure. They can degrade when exposed to certain conditions, which may reduce their effectiveness.

  2. Factors Affecting Degradation: The primary factors that can lead to the degradation of NMN and NR include temperature, humidity, light, and oxygen exposure. For instance, high temperatures can accelerate the breakdown of these compounds.

Proper Storage Techniques for NMN and NR

To preserve the integrity and effectiveness of NMN and NR, it's essential to adhere to specific storage guidelines:

  1. Temperature Control: Store NMN and NR supplements in a cool, dry place. Avoid exposure to high temperatures, as heat can speed up the degradation process. Room temperature or cooler environments are ideal.

  2. Humidity and Moisture: Keep these supplements away from moisture. High humidity can adversely affect the stability of NMN and NR. Use airtight containers to prevent moisture exposure.

  3. Light Protection: Exposure to light, especially sunlight, can degrade NMN and NR. Store them in opaque or dark-colored containers to minimize light exposure.

  4. Oxygen Exposure: Minimize the exposure of these supplements to air. Oxygen can react with NMN and NR, leading to oxidation and degradation. Using containers with oxygen absorbers or vacuum-sealed packaging can be beneficial.

Learn more about how to store NMN supplements properly in "NMN Supplement Storage and Care: Ensuring Potency and Safety".

Stability Over Time: What You Need to Know

Understanding how NMN and NR stability changes over time is crucial for ensuring their continued efficacy:

  1. Shelf Life: NMN and NR supplements typically come with a shelf life indicated by the manufacturer. This is the period during which the product is expected to remain stable and effective when stored correctly.

  2. Degradation Signs: Look out for changes in color, smell, or texture of the supplements, as these can be indicators of degradation.

  3. Potency Over Time: The potency of NMN and NR may decrease over time, even with proper storage. It's essential to use these supplements before their expiration date to ensure maximum effectiveness.

  4. Refrigeration: While not always necessary, storing NMN and NR in a refrigerator can prolong their shelf life, especially in warmer climates or during hot seasons.

Special Considerations for Different Forms

  1. Powdered Supplements: Powdered forms of NMN and NR are often more stable but should still be stored away from moisture and heat.

  2. Capsules and Tablets: These forms are generally more resistant to environmental factors but should be stored in their original, airtight containers to maintain stability.

  3. Liquid Formulations: If NMN and NR are in liquid form, they are more susceptible to degradation and should be stored in the refrigerator after opening.

Learn more about pros and cons for different forms of NMN supplements in "NMN Forms Explained: Maximizing Benefits with the Right Choice".


NMN and NR have shown promising results in preliminary research, but more studies are needed to fully understand their potential in human health.

The future of NMN and NR in extending healthspan and combating age-related decline is an exciting area of research. As we continue to explore their possibilities, these compounds may become integral to our approach to healthy aging.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.