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NMN vs Niacin
NMN vs Niacin

Niacin vs. NMN: A Comparison of Cellular Coenzymes

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Niacin and NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide) are two compounds associated with the essential B vitamin and niacin (vitamin B3) and play crucial roles in cellular energy metabolism and overall well-being.

This comparison will delve into the differences and similarities between niacin and NMN. We will explore their functions, sources, and potential benefits, shedding light on which might be the better choice for specific health-related goals. 

What is NMN?

NMN, or Nicotinamide Mononucleotide, is a molecule that has gained significant attention in aging and longevity research. It is a derivative of niacin (vitamin B3) and is involved in the biosynthesis of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), a coenzyme that plays a crucial role in various cellular processes.


Here are key points about NMN:

  • Precursor to NAD+: NMN is a precursor to NAD+, meaning it is converted into NAD+ within the body. NAD+ is a coenzyme that is involved in many enzymatic reactions and is essential for energy metabolism and DNA repair.
  • Role in Cellular Energy Production: NAD+ is a critical component in generating energy within cells, primarily in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). It is involved in mitochondrial function, which is the energy-producing powerhouse of cells.
  • Sirtuins Activation: NAD+ is also required to activate a class of enzymes called sirtuins. Sirtuins regulate various cellular processes, including gene expression, DNA repair, and cellular aging. Some studies suggest that increasing NAD+ levels through NMN supplementation may activate sirtuins and promote cellular health.
  • Aging and Longevity: One of the reasons NMN has garnered interest is its potential role in combating the effects of aging. As people age, NAD+ levels tend to decline, which is associated with various age-related health issues. Some researchers believe that NMN supplementation might help raise NAD+ levels and potentially slow down the aging process, although more research is needed to confirm these effects in humans.
  • Sources: NMN can be found in trace amounts in various food sources, such as fruits and vegetables. However, it is not typically consumed sufficiently through the diet to significantly impact NAD+ levels. Therefore, NMN is often used as a dietary supplement for those interested in its potential health benefits.

What is Niacin?

Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is a water-soluble vitamin essential for various biological processes within the body. It exists in several forms, including nicotinic acid, nicotinamide, also known as niacinamide, and related derivatives, such as nicotinamide riboside. Niacin is naturally found in many foods, added to some food products, and is available as a dietary supplement.

One of the key functions of niacin in the body is its role in the production of coenzymes known as nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP). NAD and NADP are crucial for over 400 different enzymatic reactions in the body, making niacin essential for various metabolic processes.


Here’s a breakdown of some of the important roles niacin plays:

  • Energy Metabolism: NAD is primarily involved in catabolic reactions that extract potential energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and convert it into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy currency of cells. In other words, niacin helps your body derive energy from food.
  • Cellular Functions: NAD is required for enzymes involved in vital cellular functions, including DNA repair, gene expression control, and cellular communication. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the genome and supporting various cell processes.
  • Antioxidant Function: NADP, a derivative of NAD, is involved in antioxidant reactions within cells. It helps protect cells from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.

Niacin can be obtained from various dietary sources, mostly from nicotinic acid and nicotinamide. Additionally, the body can convert some of the amino acid tryptophan (found in protein-containing foods) into NAD, making tryptophan a dietary source of niacin.

When niacin is consumed in foods or supplements, it is absorbed primarily in the small intestine, although some absorption can occur in the stomach. Once absorbed, niacin is metabolized into NAD, which is then used by various enzymes throughout the body.

Excess niacin that is not immediately needed is stored as a circulating reserve pool within red blood cells. The liver also plays a role in metabolizing excess niacin, converting it into various byproducts that are eventually excreted in the urine. In cases of high niacin intake, unmetabolized forms of niacin, such as nicotinic acid and nicotinamide, might also be present in the urine.

In summary, niacin is a vital nutrient that serves as a precursor for coenzymes essential for energy production, DNA repair, and numerous metabolic processes within the body. It can be obtained from various dietary sources and plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and well-being.

Comparing NMN and Niacin

Niacin (vitamin B3) and NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide) are both compounds associated with nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) metabolism, but they differ in several ways. Here’s a comparison of niacin and NMN:

Chemical Structure

Niacin: Niacin, or vitamin B3, exists in two primary forms – nicotinic acid and nicotinamide (or niacinamide). Both of these forms are water-soluble B vitamins. These two forms are utilized in various metabolic processes within the body and are essential for overall health.

NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide): While structurally related to niacin and nicotinamide, NMN is not considered a B vitamin. NMN is a molecule that serves as a precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). NAD+ is a coenzyme vital for many cellular processes, particularly in energy metabolism and DNA repair.

It’s important to note that despite the structural similarity between niacin, nicotinamide, and NMN, their bodily roles and functions can differ significantly. Niacin and nicotinamide have well-established roles as B vitamins, while NMN is primarily recognized as a precursor to NAD+.

Niacin chemical structure

Health benefits

Here’s a list of health benefits associated with NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide) and niacin (vitamin B3):

NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide)

Supports Cellular Energy Production
  • NMN is a precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), a coenzyme that plays a crucial role in energy metabolism. Increasing NAD+ levels through NMN supplementation may help enhance cellular energy production.
Potential Anti-Aging Effects
  • NMN has been studied for its potential to activate sirtuins, a class of enzymes associated with longevity and cellular health.
Cellular Repair and Protection
  • NAD+ is involved in DNA repair mechanisms and acts as an antioxidant within cells. NMN supplementation may help support the body’s ability to repair DNA damage and protect cells from oxidative stress.
Potential Cognitive Benefits
  • Emerging research has explored the role of NMN in maintaining cognitive function and brain health, particularly as it relates to aging.

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Improves Cholesterol Profile
  • Niacin is often used as a medication to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides, leading to improved cardiovascular health.
Supports Cardiovascular Health
  • Niacin has been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular events and conditions, including heart disease.
Treatment of Pellagra
  • Niacin is effective in treating pellagra, a condition caused by severe niacin deficiency, which can lead to skin and gastrointestinal symptoms.
Regulation of Blood Sugar
  • Niacin may help regulate blood sugar levels, making it beneficial for individuals with diabetes or at risk of developing the condition.
Maintenance of Healthy Skin
  • Niacin supports skin health by maintaining the skin barrier, reducing the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles, and promoting skin rejuvenation.
Reduction of Migraines
  • Some individuals with recurrent migraines have reported a reduction in the frequency and severity of migraines when taking niacin supplements.
Treatment of Hyperphosphatemia
  • In some cases, niacin is used to manage hyperphosphatemia (elevated phosphate levels) in individuals with kidney disease.

It’s important to note that while both NMN and niacin offer potential health benefits, they have distinct mechanisms of action and are used for different purposes. NMN primarily focuses on cellular energy and potential anti-aging effects, while niacin has a well-established role in cardiovascular health and cholesterol management, among other functions.

Role in NAD+ Production

Comparing the roles of NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide) and niacin (vitamin B3) in the production of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), a crucial coenzyme in various cellular processes:

NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide)

  • NMN is a direct precursor to NAD+. It can be converted into NAD+ with relatively fewer enzymatic steps compared to niacin.
  • NMN is efficiently converted into NAD+ within cells, making it a direct and effective way to raise NAD+ levels.
  • Increasing NMN levels can lead to increased cellular NAD+ levels, which are vital for various cellular functions, including energy metabolism and DNA repair.

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

  • Niacin (nicotinic acid and nicotinamide) is converted into NAD+ through a multi-step metabolic pathway that involves nicotinamide as an intermediate.
  • Nicotinamide, derived from niacin, plays a critical role in the NAD+ salvage pathway. It is a key component in the final steps of converting nicotinamide into NAD+.
  • The conversion of niacin into NAD+ requires several enzymatic steps compared to NMN, making the process potentially less efficient.

In summary, both NMN and niacin contribute to the production of NAD+ in the body, but they differ in their directness and efficiency. NMN is a direct precursor to NAD+ and can be converted into it with fewer enzymatic steps, potentially leading to more efficient NAD+ production.

Niacin, on the other hand, requires a multi-step conversion process that involves nicotinamide as an intermediate. Understanding these differences can be important when supplementing for specific health purposes, such as boosting NAD+ levels.


Niacin: The body can readily absorb Niacin from dietary sources and supplements. However, high doses of niacin can cause flushing and other side effects.

NMN: The bioavailability of NMN when taken orally is a topic of ongoing research. Some studies suggest that NMN may be less efficiently absorbed than niacin.


Niacin: Niacin is naturally found in many food sources, including meat, fish, poultry, nuts, and grains. It is also available as a dietary supplement.

NMN: NMN is present in trace amounts in some foods but is not typically consumed in sufficient quantities throughout the diet. It is primarily available as a dietary supplement.

Niacin B3

Daily dose

The appropriate daily dose of niacin and NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide) can vary depending on several factors, including individual health goals, age, sex, and specific health conditions. Here are some general guidelines for daily doses of niacin and NMN:


For general health and to prevent niacin deficiency, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is typically around 16-18 milligrams (mg) per day for men and 14-16 mg per day for women. This can be obtained through a balanced diet.

A healthcare professional may prescribe higher doses of niacin to manage cholesterol levels. These doses can range from 500 mg to 2,000 mg or more per day, but they should be taken under medical supervision due to the potential for side effects, including flushing.

If niacin is being used as a medication for specific medical conditions, the dosage should be determined by a healthcare provider based on individual needs and response to treatment.

NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide)

Many NMN supplements on the market come in doses ranging from 100 mg to 500 mg or more per serving. However, the ideal dose for potential health benefits is still being explored, with some recent research suggesting that oral dosing of 900 milligrams of NMN daily is generally safe and well-tolerated in adults. If you are considering NMN supplementation, it’s advisable to start with a lower dose (e.g., 100-250 mg) and gradually increase it if needed.

Side Effects

Here’s a list of potential side effects associated with NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide) and niacin (vitamin B3):

NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide)

When taking NMN, some individuals may experience mild gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, or bloating.

  • While less common than niacin, some NMN users may experience mild flushing or skin redness, particularly at higher doses.
  • In rare cases, individuals may be sensitive or allergic to one or more ingredients in NMN supplements, leading to itching, swelling, rash, or difficulty breathing.
  • NMN may interact with certain medications or supplements, potentially affecting blood glucose levels or other physiological processes. Consult with a healthcare professional if you are on medication.
  • The long-term safety of NMN supplements is still being studied. High-dose or prolonged use may have unforeseen consequences, so caution is advised.
  • People may respond differently to NMN supplementation, so monitoring your response and adjusting the dosage is important.

The quality and purity of NMN supplements can vary between brands. Choose reputable products to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

  • Niacin, especially in high doses or immediate-release forms, can cause flushing, characterized by a warm sensation, redness, and sometimes itching or tingling in the skin.
  • Niacin supplements can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, particularly at higher doses.
  • Some individuals may experience headaches, which are typically mild to moderate and tend to diminish with continued use.
  • Niacin can cause dizziness or lightheadedness, especially when standing up quickly, due to its effect on blood vessels.
  • High doses of niacin, typically well above recommended levels, may lead to liver function abnormalities, including elevated liver enzymes.
  • Niacin can raise uric acid levels in the blood, potentially triggering gout attacks in predisposed individuals.
  • Skin reactions, such as rash or itching, are possible side effects of niacin supplements.
  • Niacin may interact with certain medications, including those used to manage cholesterol levels or diabetes. Consult with a healthcare professional if you are on medication.
  • People vary in their sensitivity to niacin, so what causes side effects in one person may not affect another.

Remember that the likelihood and severity of side effects can depend on factors like dosage, individual sensitivity, and the specific formulation of the supplement. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before using either NMN or niacin supplements, especially if you have underlying medical conditions, are taking medications, or are considering higher doses than those typically found in a balanced diet. Monitoring your response to supplementation and following recommended dosages is also advisable.

Bottom line

In conclusion, both NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide) and niacin (vitamin B3) play essential roles in cellular processes through their involvement in nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) production.

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