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Tru Niagen Reviews: Is ChromaDex's Tru Niagen a Safe and Legit Supplement to Improve Your Health?

Could your NAD use a boost? We tested Tru Niagen and our experts examined the studies in order to help you decide whether to give this ChromaDex product a try.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Nathan LeDeaux, MD
Last Updated: Oct 4, 2020

Tru Niagen Review

Many things happen to us as we get older - some of them good, others not so good. Tru Niagen is a company offering a supplement that studies suggest can improve how we maintain good health throughout aging. In fact, though research continues and more human studies are needed in order to draw firmer conclusions, Tru Niagen might help us fend off certain biological conditions associated with higher risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease, among others.

Is it a safe and effective supplement, and is it right for you? We’ve tested it and our experts have reviewed the studies in order to help you decide whether you should give it a try.

Review Summary

Pros

  • Studies prove that this supplement works to increase NAD+.
  • The FDA determined Tru Niagen to be safe, with no serious side effects.
  • The company is dedicated to scientific study (with an advisory board that includes two Nobel Prize winners).
  • Tru Niagen is affordable compared to other supplements.
  • The supplement contains no nuts, gluten, caffeine, animal byproducts, or artificial colors or flavors.

Cons

  • Potential health benefits are not sufficiently proven yet (research continues).
  • To get the biggest discounts, you need to commit to longer-lasting supply and auto-renewal.
  • No trial period or returns for opened products.

Bottom Line

If you are able to pay a dollar per day for the Tru Niagen supplement and are comfortable with the fact that scientists are still working to prove the positive health benefits, then we recommend you try it. As with any supplement, we recommend that you contact your primary care provider for advice before adding it to your daily regimen. If you purchase the product, we suggest taking it for at least two months before drawing conclusions; our testers reported feeling more energetic after several weeks of taking the supplement each day.

Our Top Picks

Tru Niagen

Tru Niagen offers a supplement that the FDA considers safe and studies suggest may improve health and vitality as we age.

Our testers felt improvement in energy levels after several weeks of taking Tru Niagen. Studies are ongoing and long-term health benefits remain to be sufficiently proven. Be sure to inform your primary care provider if you choose to supplement.

Why you should trust us

Innerbody Research recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary. Over the past two decades, we have helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions about staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.

This review, like all medical-related content on this website, is thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy. Additionally, we extensively analyze each medical service we review. We evaluate the entire patient experience from signing up to receiving medicine in the mail and then offer unbiased, marketing-jargon-free analysis based on the latest scientific evidence and medical standards.

What is nicotinamide riboside?

We’re all probably familiar with niacin, a B-vitamin that you can find on the nutrition labels of breads, cereals, and other products you’d buy at the grocery store. But nicotinamide riboside? That sounds more like something in tobacco products, right? Don’t be frightened – niacin is also known as nicotinic acid.

Actually nicotinamide riboside (or NR) is just a different form of vitamin B3 than niacin. You could find NR naturally in products like milk and even beer (in small amounts). NR is also known as Niagen®, which is a name patented by the company in focus here: Tru Niagen. But NR isn’t found in large amounts naturally.

What does NR do?

nicotinamide riboside (NR)

Tru Niagen aims to improve our health as we age. In our bodies, NR triggers the production of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). NAD is a substance that scientists actually identified over a century ago but has been increasingly the subject of study.

In 2004, Dr. Charles Brenner (then at Dartmouth College, but now the chief science advisor for Tru Niagen) discovered how NR can stimulate an increase of NAD in the body.

As scientists have conducted more and more studies, they’ve discovered numerous very intriguing things about NAD, including the following:

  1. NAD seems to play a fundamental role in our cellular health. It is linked to our cells’ capacity to produce energy as well as our cells’ ability to repair themselves.

  2. Our bodies’ production of NAD slows down considerably as we age. Studies of human tissue demonstrate that our NAD levels decrease by as much as 50% from age 40 to 60.

  3. Lifestyle matters also. Stressors and certain lifestyle choices (like maintaining an unhealthy diet and drinking alcohol, for instance) can also deplete our bodies’ supply of NAD. So if you’re thinking about reaching for a can of beer in order to get that small, naturally sourced boost of NR, think again.

If this sounds to you like NAD is a potentially important puzzle piece in our understanding of how our health can naturally decline as part of the aging process and our lifestyle decisions, then you’re not alone. If our bodies naturally stop producing enough NAD as we age, then our energy production at the cellular level declines, meaning we don’t feel the same vigor we used to feel. We’d feel less healthy. And it goes beyond how we feel; the ability of our cells to repair themselves is fundamental to health and wellbeing.

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Dr. Brenner proved that Niagen promotes NAD generation in the body. On average, taking 300mg per day of Tru Niagen for eight weeks increases NAD levels in the body by 40-50 percent.

The full picture of NAD and its effects in our bodies will come only with further study. Studies are exploring how increased NAD levels could be involved in the recovery from liver disease, sleep disorders, cognitive issues, mood disorders, kidney problems, and more. At the same time, cancer researchers are studying how NAD could play a role in the growth of certain cancers. It’s a complex picture – see below in the safety and concerns section.

Is Tru Niagen a reputable company?

Niagen is the flagship ingredient of Tru Niagen’s parent company, ChromaDex, a nutraceutical company focused on the research and development of products that improve how we age. ChromaDex scientists are hard at work on numerous studies in partnership globally with universities and researchers to fully understand what NAD does within our bodies. Along the way, ChromaDex is cataloging and providing reference materials on nearly 2000 phytochemicals thus far, with the list continuing to grow.

In addition to Dr. Brenner (who discovered the pathway for NR to stimulate NAD production), the company relies on a board of distinguished scientists in order to advise the company on the safety of their product and on necessary studies to conduct. The board includes not just one, but two Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry; leading authorities in Alzheimer’s and breast cancer research; and two nutritional experts.

This is a pretty impressive gathering of recognized experts in their fields. Some peers have criticized these kinds of advisory boards as ‘window dressing’, but in our opinion, the participation and advice of experts speaks to the high level of interest and seriousness with which the broader scientific community regards the potential for NR supplementation and research to improve our wellbeing. It also reflects well on a company dedicated to validating the merits of their product and conducting rigorous studies.

Tru Niagen has over twenty licensed patents and collaborations in over a hundred studies of NR and NAD. There have been five clinical studies published so far.

Tru Niagen vs Basis

Tru Niagen has stiff competition from another rising star in the space – Elysium Basis. So how does Tru Niagen stack up to the competition? Below is a handy comparison chart.

  Tru Niagen Basis
Lowest monthly price $30 $40
Ingredient(s) Nicotinamide riboside (NR) NR, pterostilbene
NR amount per dose 300mg 500mg
FDA approved status Yes - NDI and GRAS status No
Vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free
Potentially raises bad cholesterol  
May contain trace toluene  

While Basis relies on the same science and delivers value, we believe Tru Niagen is the better supplement right now.

Price

You have to subscribe to an entire year of Elysium Basis in order to bring the price per month down to $40. But even so, you are only coming to parity with what a single month of Tru Niagen costs with no subscription commitment at all. If you subscribe for 3 months of Tru Niagen (which we recommend for starters), your per-month price is $35 – already cheaper than Basis.

If you discover that NR supplementation improves your health and vigor, then Tru Niagen allows you to subscribe to autorenewing 6-month shipments, which saves you 40% over their standard per-bottle price. Over the course of a six-month subscription to Tru Niagen, your per-month price goes down to $30. This kind of opportunity for savings isn’t offered elsewhere, setting Tru Niagen apart.

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Safety of pterostilbene supplementation

Though research continues and there’s still much to learn, clinical studies and the FDA have determined that Niagen (NR) is safe. This is why the FDA has granted Tru Niagen its GRAS distinction three times already. But what about the other ingredient in its competitor Basis, for instance - pterostilbene?

Pterostilbene is a potent antioxidant found naturally in certain foods like blueberries. However, when taken orally in amounts higher than what you can find naturally – such as in Basis and other supplements – studies suggest it can raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in some human populations. A 2017 study found that LDL cholesterol levels rose due to pterostilbene supplementation with NR, a concern that seemed particularly valid for people whose body mass index is higher than average. These results prompted Tru Niagen’s parent company, ChromaDex, to abandon its manufacturing of pterostilbene supplements. But Elysium still includes the ingredient in its Basis NR supplement.

Pterostilbene has beneficial properties, certainly, and studies suggest as an antioxidant it potentially lowers blood pressure and provides anti-cancer benefits. But for those who are concerned about cholesterol, Tru Niagen is the better choice.

Presence of toluene?

Several years ago, ChromaDex petitioned the FDA to investigate Elysium for the presence of toluene in its Basis supplement. (For some background, ChromaDex originally supplied the NR and pterostilbene for Basis, but the business relationship dissolved in 2016.)

Elysium’s response was less than reassuring – that the trace amounts of toluene (an industrial solvent found in paint thinner and glues) were within legal limits for pharmaceuticals. They issued seemingly contradictory statements as well, appearing to suggest that toluene was not present after acknowledging that it was present in legal amounts.

We find this reaction, as well as the presence of even small amounts of toluene, to be fairly discouraging in a supplement – particularly when there are other products available, such as Tru Niagen. Small amounts of toluene should not be permissible in a product intended to be taken daily in perpetuity.

Pricing and what to expect with Tru Niagen

Tru Niagen container

When you order Tru Niagen supplements, you’ll specify how many people will be taking the supplement (1-4 people) and also how large of a supply you’d like (1 month, 3 months or 6 months). These two factors will dictate the size of your shipment. Current pricing is as you see below, but prices and discounts may change so you can check current prices here.

Note that your discounts increase as you commit to larger supplies and auto-renewal of your supply. While we’d prefer that the low price be available regardless of the quantity, in reality this discounting is a big advantage to ordering from Tru Niagen; other companies don’t provide these discounts.

We recommend that you opt for the 3-month supply at first, rather than either of the other options. Why is this, you ask? It’s because we found that some of the improved vigor that our testers experienced (which we associate with the supplement) occurred only after taking it for several weeks. One month might not be sufficient for you to draw a conclusion about whether it would be beneficial for you to make a longer-term investment.

And on the other side, six months is in our opinion a pretty large commitment to make right out of the gate, without ever having tried it at all. If you find that three months yields positive results, then you could decide to invest in longer-term supply and auto-renew for maximum savings.

Prices for a single-person order

  • 1-month supply: $40/month if you set up auto-renew; $50/month for single-month purchase.
  • 3-month supply: $105 with auto-renew (amounting to $35/month); $119.85 for one-time purchase.
  • 6-month supply: $180 with auto-renew (amounting to $30/month); $225 for one-time purchase.

Prices for a two-person order:

  • 1-month supply: $80/month if you set up auto-renew; $100/month for single-month purchase.
  • 3-month supply: $180 with auto-renew (amounting to $30/month); $225 for one-time purchase.
  • 6-month supply: $360 with auto-renew (amounting to $30/month); $420 for one-time purchase.

Prices for a 3-person order:

  • 1-month supply: $120/month if you set up auto-renew; $150/month for single-month purchase.
  • 3-month supply: $270 with auto-renew (amounting to $30/month); $337.50 for one-time purchase.
  • 6-month supply: $540 with auto-renew (amounting to $30/month); $630 for one-time purchase.

Prices for a 4-person order:

  • 1-month supply: $160/month if you set up auto-renew; $200/month for single-month purchase.
  • 3-month supply: $360 with auto-renew (amounting to $30/month); $420 for one-time purchase.
  • 6-month supply: $720 with auto-renew (amounting to $30/month); $840 for one-time purchase.

Frequently asked questions about Tru Niagen

As a supplement that is new to most people but gaining popularity rapidly, there are natural questions that follow. Among the most common questions about Tru Niagen:

Is Tru Niagen FDA approved?

The FDA has determined on three separate occasions that Tru Niagen is a safe supplement when taken as directed. It has received the standard “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) distinction and has New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) status. Dietary supplements aren’t subject to FDA approval; FDA approval is a designation that applies to prescription medications and other products.

Is Tru Niagen good for you?

Studies are certainly promising and indicate that Tru Niagen is good for you, though research continues. It’s too soon to know the full story about all of the health benefits of Niagen and whether this supplement really could help us avoid some major health pitfalls associated with aging. Here is an overview of what research indicates.

The chief reason that NR supplementation would be good for you is that NR is a NAD precursor in our bodies. In other words, ingesting Niagen replenishes our body’s NAD supply. NAD is a vital chemical for maintaining cellular health and metabolism, and NAD levels naturally decline as we age.

Research indicates that NAD plays vitally important roles in:

  • Metabolism
  • Cellular defense against damage
  • DNA repair
  • Achieving and maintaining good sleep patterns

Studies conclude that drops in NAD levels may be associated with a number of age-associated diseases and health problems, including retinal degeneration, cancer, liver disease, atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. A 2014 study found that NR supplementation protected mice against certain types of liver cancer.

NAD allows other beneficial enzymes to work more effectively within the body, such as:

  • Sirtuins, which help to lower inflammation and repair DNA
  • PARPs – or poly (ADP-ribose) polymerases – which scientists believe play a role in longevity and healthy aging by reducing the damage to DNA

By taking an NR supplement, the goal is to keep NAD levels healthy in our body. Studies conclusively prove that Tru Niagen achieves this effect, raising NAD levels by 40-50%.

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When should I take Tru Niagen?

You should take Tru Niagen as directed, each day in the morning. Take one capsule, which contains 300mg of NR. This dosage has been shown in clinical studies to be both safe and effective in increasing NAD levels within the body.

What is Tru Niagen's return policy?

If you decide you don’t want to start with Tru Niagen after all, you can return your product back to Tru Niagen for a refund within 30 days from your purchase date, as long as the returned product is still factory-sealed. If a bottle is not in its original factory-sealed condition, Tru Niagen can’t accept it for a refund.

How much does shipping cost?

Tru Niagen offers free standard shipping to everyone in the United States.

Safety and possible concerns

The FDA concludes NR supplements are safe

Tru Niagen pill

The FDA has studied the special B3 formulation patented by Tru Niagen. Specifically, the FDA found Tru Niagen to be safe at the company’s recommended dosage of 300mg per day. Tru Niagen enjoys NDI (New Dietary Ingredient) status. The FDA has issued three safety notifications thus far for Tru Niagen, validating it as a safe supplement.

Studies of humans taking even 1,000-2,000 mg per day of NR (significantly higher than recommended Tru Niagen dosage) showed no harmful effects, though some people taking this higher dose experienced mild side effects such as:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea

NAD and cancer

NR isn’t the only NAD-stimulating supplement on the market. Other mechanisms exist for increasing NAD levels in the body. One of these – nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) – was the subject of a study on mice, which showed that NMN increased the rate of cancer among these mice. Some warn against jumping to conclusions based on one study (which is a valid warning) while also pointing out that it wasn’t a large study and its results haven’t yet been replicated in other studies. But studies of NAD are proliferating and it’s still early in our exploration of it.

If NAD is so vital to cellular health, how could it also increase cancer rates? It’s a fascinating subject and the short (and incomplete) answer is that cancer cells require robust metabolism. Even as scientists study the benefits of increasing NAD levels, cancer researchers are busy studying how starving cancer cells of NAD could be a successful way of fighting cancer.

Could this same concern exist for NR supplements? A 2014 study of NR on mice showed that supplementation with NR in fact helped to protect the mice against liver cancer.

Conclusions?

There is no study that has demonstrated a connection between NR supplementation and any negative effect at this time, cancer or otherwise, and the FDA considers it safe.

But the picture isn’t necessarily as simple as, “We should all increase our NAD in order to stay healthy.” It could very well be the case that increasing our NAD levels brings both positive and negative effects for us. Anti-aging effects and cancer-stimulating effects aren’t necessarily incompatible; both could occur simultaneously. Increased NAD levels could help fight certain cancers while increasing the risk of others, if a person is genetically predisposed to those specific cancers.

One point of agreement within the scientific community is that more research into NR and NAD is very important, carrying great potential for us to develop better ways of staying healthy and fighting disease.

So, because breakthroughs in our understanding of NR and NAD are still relatively recent, it would be wrong for anyone to suggest that everything about NR supplementation is known at this point. All that can be said right now is that the FDA has determined Niagen to be safe and more research is needed in order to determine its full effects and if there are any risks or contraindications.

Whether you buy Tru Niagen or a different NR supplement, you can ensure that your product is of high quality and safety by making sure that the NR component in the supplement is listed as Niagen®. Otherwise, you may not be ingesting the form of NR that was the subject of the studies demonstrating effectiveness and safety.

What criteria do we use to evaluate home health products and services?

At Innerbody Research, we customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health service or product. For most products and services, we have five areas that we use for our evaluations, including:

Quality: How well does the company deliver its core service(s) to the customer? Is the quality of the product or service high enough that we would recommend it to loved ones without hesitation? Does the company have a high quality medical review board with oversight? Are their treatment options or products FDA-approved?

Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the provider offer discounts or free services to our readers?

Customer Support: How well does the company provide information about its product or service? How clearly are options presented?

Privacy: Are all products sent in discreet packaging? Will your data be stored securely? Could your data ever be shared without your permission?

Speed: How fast will you receive your product from the moment you click “buy?” Are the waiting times stated by the company accurate and consistent?

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