About TRU Niagen
By providing your cells with vital nutrients they need to increase NAD+ levels, TRU Niagen is a dietary supplement that promises to support many aspects of healthy aging, including cognitive function, metabolism and energy production, liver function, muscle recovery, and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels already within a normal range.
Each capsule contains 125 mg of nicotinamide riboside, a specific form of vitamin B3 that’s said to work at the cellular level to increase NAD+ levels. And although it’s synthesized, the manufacturer emphasizes that this ingredient is nature identical, “meaning that it is identical structurally and functionally to naturally occurring NR.”
To experience these benefits, the website indicates you’ll only need to take two vegan, nut-free, gluten-free, and caffeine-free capsules (250 mg) of TRU Niagen each morning, with or without food.
Is this really the breakthrough supplement the manufacturer advertises? In other words, can you expect it to help you remain healthy, longer and age better, as claimed on the website?
Here, we’ll take this complex topic, break it down into bite-sized, step-by-step chunks, and make it straightforward and easy to understand. Why? So that you can make an empowered decision about where to spend your hard-earned money.
What Causes Aging?
Despite the fact that aging is a process experienced by everyone, Popular Science’s Brooke Borel notes that the scientific community doesn’t yet fully understand why—or even specifically how—humans age. In fact, “as recently as 1990,” she writes, “the biologist Zhores Medvedev tallied more than 300 possible hypotheses.”
But in a nutshell, according to Dr. Sandra Hunter, associate professor of exercise science:
“Ultimately, the answer to these questions involves cell death that eventually leads to systems malfunctioning and whole body death. For example … the death of muscle fibers contributes to losing limb strength up to about 10 percent per decade after 50 years. The nerves (neurons) connected to muscle fibers can also die, as do neurons in the brain.
Consequently, the human brain shrinks at about 2 to 3 percent per decade, starting as early as 30 to 40 years, so that a 10 to 11 percent loss of brain matter can occur by 80 years of age. Because neuron death in the brain is initially selective to the memory and planning centers, we tend to lose short-term memory and higher-level cognitive functions with advanced aging.”
But what about the NAD+ molecule frequently referenced on the TRU Niagen website? What role does it play in the aging process, or specifically, in cell death?
What’s the Relationship Between NAD+ & Aging?
As we outline in Your Complete Guide to Nicotinamide Riboside, NR is a naturally occurring version of vitamin B3 that works as a coenzyme (a substance that enhances the action of an enzyme) to bind with protein molecules and form active enzymes. Specifically, supplementing NR has (among other things) been clinically shown to boost levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD+.
This molecule transfers “electrons from one molecule to another, which is how the mitochondria (known as the “powerhouses of cells”) create energy. On top of this, NAD+ may also increase levels of cyclic ADP-ribose, which is a messenger molecule responsible for the exchange of information inside and outside of cells.”
Now, because the communication between cells has been shown to slow with age, it, therefore, stands to reason that supplementing our diet with products like TRU Niagen could potentially help slow cellular aging, and perhaps the aging process as a whole.
With all of this in mind, how does TRU Niagen propose to boost NAD+ levels, and is there clinical evidence to support the claim?
Taking a Closer Look at TRU Niagen’s Ingredients
The only ingredient contained in TRU Niagen is 125 mg of nicotinamide riboside per capsule, or 250 mg per dose.
In our NR Guide linked to in the previous section, we reference several clinical studies showing Niagen’s potential benefits for relatively simple organisms such as yeast, mice, and fish.
Since that time, however, the TRU Niagen website refers to a 2016 study published in "Nature" that found—among other things—“human blood NAD+ can rise as much as 2.7-fold with a single oral dose of NR in a pilot study of one individual.”
Despite this "NAD+ repletion," no direct benefits (e.g., improved cellular metabolism, slowed aging, etc.) were noted in the study. In fact, of the more than 180 results returned on the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed for the term ‘nicotinamide riboside,' none seemed to show a direct relationship between NR supplementation and meaningful benefits in humans.
Speaking of which, we only encountered one 2016 study on PubMed, conducted by Spherix Consulting, relating to Niagen specifically, which only focused on safety, not efficacy.
Could TRU Niagen Cause Any Side Effects?
The reality is that any dietary supplement has the potential to cause side effects or interact with prescription medications, which is why it’s always a smart idea to talk with your doctor before taking one.
With this said, the website emphasizes that the NR in Niagen has been classified as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the FDA, as a New Dietary Ingredient. The TRU website adds that “safety of intake has been validated in two clinical trials of human subjects consuming up to 1000 mg/day as a single dose and at 1000 mg/day for 6 weeks.”
However, WebMD, Examine.com, and the Natural Medicines Database didn’t have entries for nicotinamide riboside or Niagen at the time of our research, or potential corresponding side effects.
How Much Does TRU Niagen Cost?
If purchased direct, TRU prices their Niagen supplement as follows:
- 1 Bottle (30-day supply): $45
- 3 Bottles: $119.75 ($39.92 each)
- 6 Bottles: $221 ($39.83 each)
- 12 Bottles: $410 ($34.17 each)
However, we also found it available on Amazon for:
- 2 Bottles: $84.99 ($42.50 each)
- 3 Bottles: $119.75 ($39.92 each)
- 6 Bottles: $215.95 ($35.99 each)
Regardless of the quantity your order from the manufacturer, you’ll also be assessed a $5 S&H charge (Amazon orders come with free shipping).
Per their site’s terms, Healthspan Research, LLC offers a 15-day refund policy on all TRU Niagen orders, less S&H charges. Important: They also note bottles must "still retain their original factory seal, and remain in factory-quality condition as determined by Company. No refunds will be issued for a partially used product or product that appears to be handled, opened or tampered with."
To request one, customer support can be reached at (888) 642-4361 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Can We Learn From Customer Reviews For TRU Niagen?
The only site where we encountered any online feedback for TRU Niagen was on Amazon, where 19 customers had collectively given the supplement an average rating of 4.2 stars.
There, common compliments related to meaningful health improvements (boosted energy/reduced fatigue, improved sleep, etc.), while what relatively few complaints there were often revolved around no results.
From a company perspective, Healthspan Research, LLC (the supplement manufacturer) is based out of Little Rock, AR. However, the owner of the specific form of nicotinamide riboside used to make Niagen is a company named ChromaDex, Inc., who is based out of Irvine, CA.
In the past, ChromaDex has ‘leased’ this ingredient to third-party companies who then use it to make their own supplements. In the instance of TRU Niagen, though, the company has decided to manufacture a supplement themselves.
Are There Other NAD+ Precursor Supplements Like TRU Niagen?
The TRU website emphasizes that “Niagen is the first and only patented and FDA safety-reviewed form of nicotinamide riboside,” which, as we learned above, is true.
However, we also learned that it’s often leased out to third-party companies, which means there are other brands available, including Live Cell Research, Elysium, Life Extension, and High Performance Nutrition, to name just a few. How do these compare and how can you choose?
Returning to our NR Guide linked to at the beginning, when considering whether or not you should give this supplement a try, it certainly seems to have a fair amount of clinical evidence indicating it might be able to address many of the factors currently thought to cause aging—namely, increasing cellular communication and mitochondrial energy production.
However, based on what’s listed on the NIH’s PubMed, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of clinical support that indicating that these factors can cause meaningful benefits in humans. Or—even if we were willing to grant the benefit of the doubt—that one brand of Niagen works better than another.
Based on this, we’d strongly recommend speaking with your doctor about your concerns and goals, and whether or not a supplement like TRU Niagen makes sense, based on their treatment recommendations.
Our Final Thoughts About TRU Niagen
Compared to many of the other dietary supplements we write about, Niagen seems to have some solid clinical support, and comes to us directly from the research team—filled with scientists and other industry leaders—who created it. They also stand behind all of their purchases with a 15-day money back guarantee.
However, since Niagen is a proprietary ingredient, there doesn’t seem to be any meaningful differences between TRU’s version and those from third-party brands, some of which could be found for as little as $10.
On top of this, all TRU Niagen bottles must be unopened in order to qualify for a refund. So, as soon as you open yours to give it a try, you lose the privilege.