16 Key Differences Between NMN & NR

Not all NAD precursors are alike.


If you’ve been keeping up with aging and science news, you’ve probably already heard of a critical molecule known as nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). You may even already know that NAD is critical to human survival, and decreases as we get older and undergo metabolic stresses. There are a few different ways of increasing NAD, and although the science here is important, it can easily turn into an eye-glazing-over experience for most people who don’t study cells for a living.

Here's a quick breakdown of the key differences between nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) and nicotinamide riboside (NR):

1. NMN is not a vitamin

NMN is not yet an established form of vitamin B3 because there are no clinical trials to prove it increases NAD in humans. 

2. NR is a vitamin

NR is a form of vitamin B3 which is required in small amounts to sustain healthy living. NR is shown in human studies to effectively increase NAD levels. 

3. NMN contains a phosphate

NMN is really just an NR molecule with a phosphate. But that affects how efficiently NMN can create NAD. This phosphate makes it impossible for NMN to get into cells where NAD is created and used. 

4. NR does not contain a phosphate

NR is the largest part of NAD that can enter the cell, which is why NMN supplements will turn into NR first before they are able to make NAD. 

5. NMN requires 3 steps to make NAD

In its supplement form, NMN must lose its phosphate first before entering the cell. Then once inside the cell, it converts back into NMN to make NAD. In total this is a 3-step process.

6. NR starts making NAD in only 2 steps

NR can directly access the cell, so it only requires two steps to begin creating NAD.

7. NMN has 0 published human clinical studies

As of April 2018, NMN’s only published trials are in mice and rats. 

8. NR has 3 published human clinical studies

NR has completed 5 clinical trials. 3 of them are published and the other 2 are pending publication. All 3 published clinical trials confirm NR is a safe and efficient way of increasing NAD in people.