NMN vs NAD, NR: Top Precursors and Differences

By Baran Dilaver
NMN and NR are both NAD precursors, but NMN has an extra phosphate group and is the immediate precursor to NAD. It bypasses the conversion step required by NR, making it more direct. While both are effective in boosting NAD levels, NMN is considered more efficient vs. NR. Wonderfeel Youngr™ uses NMN in its formula to promote sirtuin activation and increase NAD levels.

NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) and NR (nicotinamide riboside) are like stepping stones to NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), a vital molecule in our bodies that fuels all kinds of cellular functions. As we age, our NAD levels naturally decline, prompting the search for effective methods to elevate these levels and support healthy aging. But here’s the twist: We can’t just pop NAD supplements because NAD can’t get directly into our cells. That’s where NMN and NR come into play. They’re like VIP passes that get converted into NAD once they’re inside our cells, giving our body the boost it needs from the inside out.

Now, between NMN and NR, there’s a slight difference. Think of NMN as having a bit of a shortcut, with an extra piece (a phosphate group) that makes its journey to becoming NAD a tad more direct. NR needs an extra step to get there. Both are great options, but if you’re looking for the most straightforward path to boosting your NAD levels, NMN just has the edge.

What is NAD and NAD+? 

NAD+, or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, is a coenzyme found in every single living cell. But sometimes it’s referred to, colloquially, as just NAD, despite the little plus sign after it. We, at Wonderfeel choose to use the simpler version in our communications; NAD. 

NAD plays a vital role in all cellular functions of our body starting with providing energy to the mitochondria, repairing DNA, and organ function. Without NAD, we’d be dead in 10 seconds. To understand more about NAD and how it affects our health, please check our article here. 

The Difference between NAD and NMN. Why can you not take NAD directly? 

When diving into the quest for boosting NAD levels in the body, two key players often come up: NMN and NR. Both are key molecules that the body uses to turn them into NAD but why not just take NAD directly, you might wonder?

Professor Andrew Salzman , a Harvard MD,  renowned drug inventor, and Chief Medical Officer at Wonderfeel, sheds light on this. He points out that NAD is a cornerstone molecule for crucial cell functions, like fueling mitochondria (our cells’ powerhouses) and aiding in DNA repair. The reality is, cells value NAD so highly that their outer layers act as strong barriers, which keep NAD inside and prevent it from entering from the outside. That’s why we use NMN and NR; they’re like special keys that unlock the door to our cells, allowing conversion into NAD once inside.

Based on a 2020 study, both NMN and NR are proven to bump up those NAD levels, which is great news for keeping our cells youthful and vigorous. But even though they’re on the same team, they play the game a bit differently. So, what sets them apart, and is one a better pick than the other? Let’s dive into what makes each of these NAD precursors unique.


From a molecular standpoint, both NAD precursors are largely the same. NMN, however, has an additional phosphate group, which makes it physically bigger. Both NMN and NR are considered safe for human consumption, and both use the same pathway to boost NAD. The big difference between NMN and NR is what happens inside the cells in the conversion to NAD, which is, after all, the goal.

NMN is the immediate precursor to NAD, and it actually behaves as a sort of go-between for NR and NAD. In order for NR to convert to NAD in the cells, it must first be converted to NMN. The process itself is fairly elaborate, but in simple terms, taking NMN directly eliminates the conversion step inherent to the NR process. Interestingly, this understanding is relatively new. In 2019, a specific transporter, Slc12a8, was identified, which is particular to NMN and serves as a kind of oversized doorway that lets this bigger molecule through. Before this discovery, some scientists thought that due to its size, NMN was too big to cross cellular membranes and needed to convert to NR before it could enter the cell and begin NAD biosynthesis.

NMN or NR? Additional Considerations

If both NMN and NR have their own methods of making it in the cellular doorway to increase NAD, you may rightly be wondering what difference it makes which one you take. You’ll find different opinions on the topic, and here at Wonderfeel, we see the value in both molecules. The truth is, if boosting NAD levels is the goal, you can get the job done a little better with NMN vs NR.

Perspective view of two blue steel doors representing NMN vs. NR

With that being said, the Wonderfeel Youngr™ formula does use NMN, simply because we see it as the most efficient option. Up until recently, NMN was extremely expensive and difficult to produce compared to NR. It’s still the new kid on the block, but the interest is there and the science is advancing at a rapid clip. One of the latest clinical trials in April 2021 confirmed that NMN effectively raises NAD levels. And by combining a high dose of NMN with antioxidants including ergothioneine and resveratrol, strong activators of sirtuins (the proteins that use NAD to regulate cellular health), and hydroxytyrosol, one of the most potent antioxidants in our patented Youngr™ NMN, we can effectively promote both sirtuin activation and increase NAD levels.

Research into NAD precursors, including NMN, is ongoing — and exciting! Here at Wonderfeel, we look forward to bringing you the latest studies and discoveries in cellular science. In the meantime, treat your cells to a Wonderfeel Youngr™ NMN subscription and enjoy the many benefits that come with increased NAD levels.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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