Niagen Research Shows DECREASED Athletic Performance!

Here at PricePlow, we’re always on the lookout for the latest and greatest performance-enhancers being researched for sports supplements. One of the newest potential ingredients that’s has received quite the bit of hype in the past year is known as Niagen.

Niagen

Niagen receives lots of hype as an age-defying wonder ingredient, but a new study shows it decreased performance in rats by 35%.

Initial studies on the ingredient showed it was a proverbial “fountain of youth” for its ability to reverse certain aging actions in the body; however, a new study indicates that while it may pose some benefits, in terms of performance, Niagen could be quite detrimental.

What is Niagen?

Nicotinamide Riboside

Does Nicotinamide Riboside (Niagen) actually DECREASE performance? Seems like it if you’re a rat….

Before we get to the study, we need to give a bit of an explanation of what exactly Niagen is. Also known as Nicotinamide Riboside (NR), Niagen is a naturally-occurring form of vitamin B3 recently discovered in 2004.[1] Researchers identified NR as a vitamin precursor of Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+), an essential coenzyme required by all living cells of the body.

Among the various actions that NAD+ participates in includes:

  • Reduction-oxidation reactions (moving electrons from one reaction to another)
  • Enables cells to convert food into usable energy[2]
  • Communication molecule between the nucleus and the mitochondria of a cell[3]

The drawbacks of lower NAD+ levels

As you can see, NAD+ is extremely important, and declining levels of it have been associated with a number of ailments:

There’s no way to sugarcoat this — the group receiving Niagen saw a 35% decrease in performance!

  • Mitochondrial Dysfunction
  • Aging and age-associated diseases
  • Cognitive dysfunction[4,5,6]
  • Increased visceral (belly fat) storage[7,8]
  • Greater fatigue
  • Increased blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome[9,10,11]
  • Cardiovascular system inflammation leading to heart attack, stroke, or hypertension[5,12,13]
Niagen Increases NAD+

Taken from the landmark study that showed Niagen as successfully elevating NAD+ levels in both humans and animals.[15]

There’s a host of other maladies from declining NAD+ levels, but you get the picture. So the question becomes, what’s a good way to keep NAD+ levels elevated?

Well, the body can synthesize it from amino acids like tryptophan or produce it from more complex compounds like nicotinamide or niacin. However, researchers also studied a compound developed by Chromadex named Niagen that was incredibly bioavailable in humans and has been shown to not only elevate NAD+ levels in humans, but also reverse certain markers of aging!

Based on this information, a whole litany of products have been made lately touting the benefits of Niagen, yet to date, none of the studies performed had investigated its effects on physical performance – not even in animals.

That is until now!

The Niagen Performance Study

Click Here to see the study before we begin!
NAD Effects

This graph illustrates the negative effects that can occur with declining NAD+ levels. [2]

With the understanding that NAD+ is crucial to energy production, cellular communication, mitochondrial function, and homeostasis, it would stand to reason that supplementing with a substance that increases NAD+ levels would benefit performance. A team of researchers set out to test this very same concept and see if the results matched the hypothesis.

For the study, researchers “enlisted” 18 Wistar rats and equally divided them into two groups that received either Niagen or “saline vehicle” at a dose of 300 mg/kg bodyweight per day for 21 days via gavage.[16] At the end of the 21-day administration protocol, both groups performed a swim test measuring performance.

In such a swim test, the researchers added weights to the rats (at a percentage of their body weight) and incrementally increased them until the rats could no longer swim or make it to the surface within 10 seconds three consecutive times. They then save the rats and write the time down. (Talk about training to exhaustion!)

The study’s Niagen results

There’s no way to sugarcoat this — the group receiving Niagen saw a 35% decrease in performance![16] Researchers hypothesized that the reason for the decreased performance was similar to what was observed by another team of researchers who also noted decreased performance following supplementation with nicotinic acid.[17,18]

As you can see from this graph, the group receiving Niagen demonstrated significantly lower performance in the swim test.[16]

In those studies, it was observed that nicotinic acid reduced exercise-induced increases in plasma free fatty acids — meaning it’s probable that NR decreases fatty acid oxidation during exercise resulting in premature fatigue. Furthermore, the redox abilities of NAD+ might also explain the decreased performance due to upsetting redox homeostasis.[19]

Takeaway: Human Research is definitely needed

By no means is this the final nail in the coffin for Niagen. But it’s a critical piece of research for some who may be interested in taking it for performance-based reasons. To date, a vast majority of the research has been conducted on animals (i.e. rats) with only a few conducted with humans. There are other trials currently underway using humans that will test performance among other metrics.

Niagen may have some beneficial qualities in terms of overall health and fighting the effects of oxidation and aging, but like most antioxidants, it’s best advised to not take them within a couple hours of your workout.

If you do want to compare prices anyway, a popular Niagen product is HPN’s N(R).

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References

  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 (4): 495–502. doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(04)00416-7. PMID 15137942. http://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(04)00416-7
  2. Verdin E. NAD+ in aging, metabolism, and neurodegeneration. Science (80- ). 2015;350(6265):1208 LP-1213. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/350/6265/1208.full
  3. Wallace DC. A Mitochondrial Paradigm of Metabolic and Degenerative Diseases, Aging, and Cancer: A Dawn for Evolutionary Medicine. Annual review of genetics. 2005;39:359. doi:10.1146/annurev.genet.39.110304.095751. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2821041/
  4. Imai S, Guarente L. NAD+ and Sirtuins in Aging and Disease. Trends in cell biology. 2014;24(8):464-471. doi:10.1016/j.tcb.2014.04.002. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24786309
  5. Sebastián C, Satterstrom FK, Haigis MC, Mostoslavsky R. From Sirtuin Biology to Human Diseases: An Update. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2012;287(51):42444-42452. doi:10.1074/jbc.R112.402768. http://www.jbc.org/content/287/51/42444.full
  6. Min S-W, Sohn PD, Cho S-H, Swanson RA, Gan L. Sirtuins in neurodegenerative diseases: an update on potential mechanisms. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 2013;5:53. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2013.00053. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3782645/
  7. Ahn J, Lee H, Jung CH, Jeon TI, Ha TY. MicroRNA-146b promotes adipogenesis by suppressing the SIRT1-FOXO1 cascade. EMBO Molecular Medicine. 2013;5(10):1602-1612. doi:10.1002/emmm.201302647. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/emmm.201302647/abstract
  8. Yang X, Yin L, Li T, Chen Z. Green tea extracts reduce adipogenesis by decreasing expression of transcription factors C/EBPα and PPARγ. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine. 2014;7(12):4906-4914. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4307434/
  9. Haigis MC, Sinclair DA. Mammalian Sirtuins: Biological Insights and Disease Relevance. Annual review of pathology. 2010;5:253-295. doi:10.1146/annurev.pathol.4.110807.092250. http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.pathol.4.110807.092250?src=recsys
  10. Maiese K, Chong ZZ, Shang YC, Wang S. Novel Directions for Diabetes Mellitus Drug Discovery. Expert opinion on drug discovery. 2013;8(1):35-48. doi:10.1517/17460441.2013.736485. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3529804/
  11. Sasaki T, Hye-Jin K, et al. Induction of Hypothalamic Sirt1 Leads to Cessation of Feeding via Agouti-Related Peptide. Endocrinology 2010 151:6, 2556-2566. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/43073148_Induction_of_Hypothalamic_Sirt1_Leads_to_Cessation_of_Feeding_via_AgRP
  12. Oellerich MF, Potente M. FOXOs and Sirtuins in Vascular Growth, Maintenance, and Aging. Sinclair Brian DN, ed. Circ Res. 2012;110(9):1238 LP-1251. http://circres.ahajournals.org/content/110/9/1238.abstract.
  13. Haigis MC, Sinclair DA. Mammalian Sirtuins: Biological Insights and Disease Relevance. Annual review of pathology. 2010;5:253-295. doi:10.1146/annurev.pathol.4.110807.092250. http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.pathol.4.110807.092250?src=recsys
  14. Gomes AP, Price NL, Ling AJY, et al. Declining NAD+ Induces a Pseudohypoxic State Disrupting Nuclear-Mitochondrial Communication during Aging. Cell. 2013;155(7):1624-1638. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2013.11.037. http://www.cell.com/abstract/S0092-8674(13)01521-3
  15. Trammell SAJ, Schmidt MS, Weidemann BJ, et al. Nicotinamide riboside is uniquely and orally bioavailable in mice and humans. Nature Communications. 2016;7:12948. doi:10.1038/ncomms12948. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27721479
  16. Kourtzidis IA, Stoupas AT, Gioris IS, et al. The NAD+ precursor nicotinamide riboside decreases exercise performance in rats. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016;13(1):32. doi:10.1186/s12970-016-0143-x. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-016-0143-x
  17. Murray R, Bartoli WP, Eddy DE, Horn MK. Physiological and performance responses to nicotinic-acid ingestion during exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1995;27(7):1057–62. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7564973
  18. Pernow B, Saltin B. Availability of substrates and capacity for prolonged heavy exercise in man. J Appl Physiol. 1971;31(3):416–22. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=5111860
  19. Nikolaidis MG, Kyparos A, Spanou C, Paschalis V, Theodorou AA, Vrabas IS. Redox biology of exercise: an integrative and comparative consideration of some overlooked issues. J Exp Biol. 2012;215(Pt 10):1615–25. http://jeb.biologists.org/content/215/10/1615
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