ChromaDex is pushing the boundaries of the cellular health and “antiaging” category with its groundbreaking ingredient, Niagen, and robust research.
Establishing oneself as a category leader with a relatively new ingredient is no easy task, but ChromaDex (Los Angeles), with its novel vitamin B3 formulation-nicotinamide riboside (NR), branded Niagen-has done just that.
NR was discovered by Charles Brenner, PhD, now chief scientific advisor for ChromaDex, in 2004 while he was a researcher at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. In 2011, ChromaDex acquired the exclusive patents for the ingredient from Dartmouth College, Cornell University, and Washington University. In a relatively short amount of time, NR has accumulated a robust library of clinical research, with continued interest from scientists.
“There are 43 human clinical trials currently registered on ClinicalTrials.gov, six of which have now led to peer-reviewed publications. This is an unprecedented number of clinical trials for this type of supplement,” explains Rob Fried, CEO of ChromaDex, to Nutritional Outlook. “Scientists approach ChromaDex all the time seeking new research opportunities, and we are happy to partner with them to further understand the full potential of NR. We are committed to be the best in the industry by having a brand that’s trusted because of our science, our quality, and our safety. Research is a big part of that. We would not put a product on the market unless we had conducted rigorous testing not only on safety but also on efficacy.”
Why all this interest? NR is a highly efficient precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), an essential coenzyme and regulator of cellular metabolism that plays an important role in the production of cellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP, generated by our mitochondria, is a major energy carrier in our cells.
“Because declining NAD+ levels have been associated with aging and a variety of age-associated conditions (i.e., metabolic disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, hearing loss, cognitive loss), we anticipate that these would be targets for NR’s therapeutic benefit theoretically, and researchers are pursuing that potential,” says Fried.
The therapeutic potential for NR is huge, and ChromaDex’s dedication to science and product integrity in past years, this year, and beyond is a testament to its commitment to improving consumer health. That is why ChromaDex is being recognized by Nutritional Outlook as the Best of the Industry.
Before Brenner discovered NR (nicotinamide riboside), a form of vitamin B3, as a nutrient that can boost NAD+ levels, nicotinic acid and nicotinamide, also in the B3 family, had been the only known vitamin precursors of NAD+ since the 1930s.1
Fast forward to 2019, and the scientific literature on NR continues to grow. A recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-arm study published in Scientific Reports found that, compared to placebo, subjects taking 100 mg, 300 mg, or 1000 mg of ChromaDex’s brand name NR ingredient Niagen daily for eight weeks experienced an increase in whole-blood NAD+ levels of 22%, 51%, and 142%, respectively.2 There were no reports of flushing, a side effect of taking nicotinic acid, or significant adverse events, supporting the establishment of a tolerable upper intake limit for Niagen of 1 g, which was found to be safe and bioavailable. The recommended daily dose of Niagen is 300 mg.
“We believe NR is the best way to safely and efficiently elevate NAD+ levels, and its NAD-boosting properties have been validated in multiple published human trials,” says Fried. “First, it boosts levels of NAD+, supporting the same cellular energy production pathway as industry standards like CoQ10. Second, cells can also convert NAD+ to NADP (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate), which functions in the same way as the antioxidant glutathione. Finally, NAD+ acts as a cellular signal, activating cellular processes that support mitochondrial efficiency for improved energy production. Essentially, Niagen feeds the organic surge already occurring within the body by bolstering our mitochondria to promote healthy aging at the cellular level.”
Interest in cellular health, mitochondrial health, and so-called antiaging products is huge. For example, mitochondrial health made it into SPINS’ “Top 10 Trend Predictions for 2019,” a report in which the market research firm compared growing interest in mitochondrial health to early-stage interest in trending topics such as the microbiome and the endocannabinoid system.3
“Mitochondrial health has surpassed the ‘trend’ category and become an important focus beyond early adopters,” explains Fried. “The NAD+ market has exploded. Awareness of NAD+ and its impact on cellular health has hit a tipping point-from the biochemistry and nutrition communities to the general population. ChromaDex has been at the vanguard of NAD+ and cellular health research for many years.”
Not only is ChromaDex a supplier of NR, but the firm also has its own finished supplement brand called Tru Niagen, in the form of capsules. It launched in September of 2017 and is sold directly to consumers. ChromaDex has expanded retail distribution of the product to Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, and, most recently, Canada. The expansion into Canada also coincided with the launch of Tru Niagen stick packs for the consumer market, and the Tru Niagen powder is also available in full tubs for professional sports teams.
“There are a number of reasons why we opted to create our own consumer brand. The first was economic-it’s expensive to make NR, so by vertically integrating we’re able to reduce our cost basis,” explains Fried. “The second was that several of the companies to whom we were supplying NR were being quite irresponsible in their manufacturing processes, as well as with the messages they were using with consumers. By creating our own brand, we can ensure that consumers receive accurate information and a safe and effective product. We recognize the importance of this molecule and take our responsibility as stewards of NR seriously.”
Speaking of stewardship: not only is Niagen generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and the only NR ingredient with a new dietary ingredient (NDI) notification, but in November the European Commission approved NR as a novel food at a daily adult serving of 300 mg. “We are pleased to be extending our global footprint into Europe,” said Fried in a press release. “We are committed to offering Tru Niagen to health-conscious people worldwide.”
The footprint of Niagen is likely to grow even larger, considering a global commercial license and supply agreement deal ChromaDex signed with NestlÃ© Health Science at the end of 2018. This agreement provides NestlÃ© Health Science the exclusive right to include Tru Niagen in its branded medical nutrition portfolio and co-exclusive rights to include Tru Niagen in certain products within the consumer health category. The territories in the agreement include North America, Europe, Latin America, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand.
“We like the idea of combining NR with other complementary ingredients and are looking to implement more product concepts in that arena,” says Fried. To that end, the collaboration with NestlÃ© Health Science will fuse ChromaDex’s revolutionary science with NestlÃ©’s robust creative portfolio, he adds.
With such impressive growth and huge long-term potential, ChromaDex is bound to push the cellular health category to great heights.