Niacinamide May Activate SIRT1; Fitting Its Neuroprotective Role

Q I have read that niacinamide is important to generate NAD, which is needed by sirtuins, but that it also inhibits sirtuins. Does this mean that we shouldn’t take niacinamide if we want the benefits of sirtuins and take resveratrol and restrict our calories? Obviously the subject is very confusing and I’m hoping you can clear up the issue. Is there a substitute for niacinamide that will generate NAD and not inhibit sirtuins?

PAUL, San Diego, CA

A There has been criticism levied against niacinamide (aka nicotinamide) because its use might deny the caloric-restriction-type benefits of sirtuins. This has not been embraced by sirtuin pioneer Dr. David Sinclair, who has recently cautioned against the widespread belief that nicotinamide is anti-sirtuin. “One must be careful when calling nicotinamide an ‘inhibitor’ in this experiment. While it is true that our lab showed that nicotinamide is a direct inhibitor of SIRT1 enzyme, it is also a precursor of NAD+, and NAD+ is a co-substrate (i.e., activator) of SIRT1.”1

Moreover, “We should entertain the possibility that nicotinamide is activating SIRT1 in vivo, not inhibiting it. This would fit with other papers showing that SIRT1 is neuroprotective.” There is no substitute that we know of.


  1. Sinclair D. Alzheimer’s Research Forum. Nov. 11, 2008. Updated November 11, 2008. Accessed November 19, 2011.

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