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What Are NAD Benefits and Should You Take It?

The potential of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) supplement benefits is being widely discussed worldwide. It is a naturally occurring molecule in the body, and its levels decrease as we age. In this article, we discuss what NAD is, its potential benefits, and ways to improve its levels.

What is NAD, and how does it work?

NAD is a molecule that occurs naturally in the human body. The abbreviation stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, also commonly known as NAD, and this compound can come in two forms: NAD+ and NADH (the '+' refers to the oxidized form of NAD, while NADH refers to the reduced form). Coenzymes like NAD bind to other enzymes to help initiate and accelerate actions that are essential to our body's healthy function.

NAD+ works as a transporter to carry electrons from one molecule to another within the cells of our body to help carry out various reactions. NAD+ and its counterpart, NADH, are vital in generating energy to power the many actions necessary for cell survival.

NAD is a key component of many physiological processes:

  1. Oxidative reactions. The transfer of electrons to and from other molecules to power reactions in the body.
  2. Enzyme activities. A necessary molecule for enzymes responsible for cell metabolism and the production of molecules used to maintain the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm).
  3. Cellular functions. That includes DNA repair, protein modifications, and immune cell function.

Researchers have found that we produce less NAD as we age. The depletion of NAD in mice has been connected to age-related conditions, like cognitive decline, cancer, and sarcopenia, which is the loss of skeletal mass and strength.

As a result, researchers have been studying the benefits of NAD supplements to determine if they can help prevent or reverse age-related conditions and prolong healthy lifespans. At the moment, it's unclear whether supplementing NAD or one of its precursors, NMN, is the best way to address the decline in NAD+ common with aging.

NAD supplement benefits

NAD has been in the news for decades because of its potential to support human longevity. Here are the five main potential benefits of NAD+ that scientists have found some evidence for thus far.

1. Slows down aging

There is no 'miracle drug' that can stop the aging process. However, NAD supplements may alter cellular processes that lead to physical and cognitive decline. Scientists have observed that a reduction in NAD+ levels in the body is linked to age-related disorders.

However, NAD+ supplements have only shown success in slowing down the aging process in mice — not in humans. The best way to boost NAD levels in humans is still unclear.

2. Increases energy

NAD appears to help deliver energy to the cells to improve their function. This, in turn, may help the body improve and sustain athletic performance by boosting energy levels, metabolism, and circulation. NAD is also believed to help protect muscles from degradation over time and allow the cellular processes that assist in muscle recovery after workouts.

3. Improves cognitive function

Reduced levels of NAD appear to be linked to neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. This could be partly due to its role in protecting neurons (nerve cells). While most of this research has occurred in mice and rats thus far, researchers believe that NAD supplementation may play a similar role in decreasing the nerve-related inflammation associated with cognitive impairment in humans as well.

4. Reduces cholesterol

Both NAD+ and the NAD precursor, niacin, have been shown to have a beneficial effect on cholesterol. Specifically, niacin has been shown to lower triglycerides and raise HDL cholesterol (AKA 'good cholesterol'). Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is crucial for lowering your risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.

5. Reduces cancer risk

NAD plays a critical role in cellular health, and the proposed benefits of increasing NAD levels may include the prevention, treatment, and arrest of certain types of cancer.

However, researchers have recently shown that NAD's role in cancer may be more complicated, and the energy boost it gives to cells could even enhance the uncontrolled cell growth that characterizes cancer.

More research is required to determine how NAD can target and destroy cancer cells and how it might encourage their growth under certain circumstances.

6. Improves sleep-wake cycle

Fluctuations in NAD+ are thought to play an important role in maintaining the circadian rhythm, and as peak levels decrease due to aging, the sleep-wake cycle is negatively affected. Sleep-wake abnormalities have been associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and heart disease in human studies.

Researchers have shown mice with sleep-wake cycle disturbances to have lower levels of NAD+ and are more likely to develop age-related disorders. However, more research is needed to determine if these findings will translate to humans.

7. Reduces inflammation

NAD+ may play a critical role in helping the body reduce inflammatory mediators and reduce the damaging effects of chronic inflammation. There is a growing body of research showing the benefits of NAD+ in reducing inflammation in various research studies involving mice.

Continued research is needed to determine if these benefits are also seen in humans and what effect NAD+ has on inflammation.

How you can effectively increase NAD levels

There are many different ways to increase the body's NAD+ levels, which can range from the use of supplements to natural methods. The following sections will discuss the various options available for increasing NAD+ levels.

NAD supplements

NAD+ benefits can be obtained by taking supplements containing either NAD+ or nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). NMN is rapidly converted to NAD+ in the body and may increase the natural levels of NAD+. NMN is believed to be absorbed by the GI tract and may play a role in age-related disorders and insulin production. However, NMN has been removed from the market by the FDA as it is currently being evaluated as a therapeutic medication.

One of the most popular forms, oral NAD+ supplements, is generally well-tolerated and the most convenient form to add NAD to your diet. Liposomal NAD+ is a supplement formulated with an enhanced compound delivery system, which is made with liposomes to potentially enhance absorption and deliver NAD+ into the bloodstream more effectively. Liquid liposomal NAD+ solutions may also also a better option for people who have difficulty swallowing pills.

Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is a vitamin B3 analog that may be taken to increase the levels of NAD+ in the body.

Currently there is limited research investigating different compounds and forms of NAD+ supplements. As a result, we don't know whether all of these supplements are safe and effective in increasing NAD+ levels in humans, or if they offer any specific advantages when compared to NAD precursors obtained from a wholesome diet.

NAD+ IV therapy

NAD intravenous or IV therapy, also called NAD drips, delivers the active ingredient to your bloodstream. NAD precursors can also be delivered via an IV drip. Because intravenous therapy helps active ingredients bypass the digestive system, they avoid possible degradation by stomach acid.

While there are many potential NAD+ IV benefits, these procedures also have their drawbacks:

  1. Require appointment scheduling
  2. Unsuitable for people who are fearful of needles
  3. Take up to 60 minutes
  4. More expensive than oral forms of NAD+ therapy
  5. Injection site reactions and infection risks are also present
  6. Limited research on their safety and efficacy

Non-supplement options

Here are a few options to obtain NAD naturally:

  • Eat foods containing NMN. NAD's precursors, such as vitamin B3 and NMN, can be found in foods like cabbage, broccoli, edamame, cucumber, and avocados. Increasing these in your diet can give an extra boost to your health.
  • Exercise. Physical activity, especially aerobic exercises, naturally increases the amount of NAD+ in the body without using supplements. Additionally, the health benefits of exercise include reduced risk of disease development and improved weight management.
  • NAD patches. NAD+ patches are a relatively new way to deliver NAD+ to the body. They are applied to areas without hair and use a small battery and electrical charge to push NAD+ molecules through the skin. The dosage and frequency of use vary by brand, but they generally provide a slow release of NAD+ over several hours.
  • Use UV protection. Preventing the premature depletion of NAD+ in the body is also crucial to healthy aging. Damage from UV exposure can reduce NAD+ levels and reduce overall body levels. Using adequate sunscreen can help reduce the damaging effects of UV light.

What to know before taking NAD supplements

While NAD+ therapy is generally considered safe, it's important to remember that the FDA does not regulate supplements, and there can be little oversight over the quantity and quality of active ingredients in NAD+ products. Therefore, choosing high-quality NAD supplements that have undergone third-party testing is essential for the safe use of these supplements.

Potential side effects of NAD+ include nausea, headaches, diarrhea, digestive issues, and fatigue. Individuals with a history of kidney disease, liver disease, cancer, and inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, should talk to their doctor before starting an NAD+ supplement. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid NAD+ supplements.

The long-term effects of NAD+ supplements are still unknown. Currently, research has shown these supplements to be safe and well-tolerated when used for up to 12 weeks; however, the benefits and risks of long-term use still need to be fully investigated.

Final thoughts

While we can not prevent the natural decline of the human body's ability to produce NAD as we age, NAD+ supplements may help replenish this vital molecule.

Research still needs to be done on the specific benefits of NAD therapy in humans and its long-term side effects. We may also find that precursors of NAD (such as NMN, NR, and niacin) can improve the body's production of NAD+ as it ages.

While it may not be the 'fountain of youth,' many signs point to NAD+ being a helpful supplement for those who want to ward off the effects of aging.


📝Healthnews editor's top picks

If you're curious about exploring the potential benefits of NAD+ supplements, our reviews might be helpful. Check out our best NAD+ supplements article to choose the product that matches your needs.

Overall best NAD+ supplement with NR — Tru Niagen

Tru Niagen® 300mg

  • 300 mg of NR in the form of nicotinamide riboside chloride
  • Made in GMP-certified facilities and NSF Certified for Sport
  • FDA-recognized as GRAS

Best NAD+ supplement from a quality supplier — ProHealth

ProHealth NAD+ Pro Powder

  • Pure NAD+ powder
  • Third-party tested
  • cGMP-certified

Best NAD+ supplement formulation for cognition — Wonderfeel Youngr

Wonderfeel Youngr NMN Supporting Image

  • 900 mg NMN
  • 99% purity
  • Lion's mane and porcini mushroom blend with vitamin D3 for mental clarity


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Comments

Jeff Gilligan
prefix 1 year ago
The way to increase NAD is not by taking NAD capsules. One should take one of the precursors that produce NAD within the cells. NAD cannot transfer through cells from the blood stream - the molecule is far too large. We get some NAD from unprocessed foods, but it has to break down to NR (nicotinamide riboside), a B-3 variant (aka: niagen) before entering a cell. NR is more efficient than NMN, though any of the few NMN products that are genuine will work too. Reliable NR is readily available on-line.
Natasha N Miller
prefix 1 year ago
Thanks for the great info!
Carole Hamilton
prefix 10 months ago
I'm glad someone pointed out that IV NAD is useless. The molecule does not enter cells from the bloodstream.
Carole Hamilton