NAD: Should You Take It and What Are The Benefits?

NAD benefits are being widely discussed across the world. It is a naturally-occurring molecule in the body and its levels decrease as we age. Diminished levels of NAD also appear to be linked to physical and cognitive decline. In this article, we will discuss whether NAD+ supplements may be able to curb the diseases and conditions associated with old age and possibly extend the human lifespan.

Key takeaways:
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    NAD is a naturally-occurring molecule in the body that appears to assist in vital cell functions necessary for good health.
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    As we age, our bodies stop producing adequate amounts of NAD, leading to physical and cognitive declines.
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    NAD+ supplements and NAD precursors (such as NMN and niacin) have shown promise in prolonging life in mice studies.
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    NAD+ supplements are available in many forms, have few side effects, and may help prevent cancer, cognitive degeneration, and issues like high cholesterol.
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    However, more research is needed before we can be sure NAD+ supplements and NAD+ IV therapy work well in humans and lack long-term side effects.

What is NAD?

NAD is a molecule, specifically a coenzyme, that occurs naturally in the human body. The abbreviation stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, also referred to in scientific literature as NAD+. Coenzymes like NAD are essential for binding to our enzymes to help catalyze actions that are essential to our body's healthy function.

NAD is a key component of bodily processes, such as:

  • Redox reactions. The oxidation-reduction (or redox) reaction assists in our energy metabolism.
  • Enzyme activities. The actions of enzymes regulate metabolism and circadian rhythm.
  • Cellular functions. That includes DNA repair, cellular senescence (which prevents cells from multiplying at an out-of-control rate), and immune cell function.

Unfortunately, researchers have found that we produce less NAD as we age. The destruction of NAD appears to be 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 looking for proof that taking NAD+ supplements could prevent or reverse age-related conditions and prolong healthy lifespans. At the moment, it's unclear whether NAD or a precursor, called NMN, is the best way to address the symptoms of aging.

Does NAD differ from NMN?

NMN is a precursor to NAD+, which means it is eventually transformed into NAD once it enters the bloodstream. The abbreviation, NMN, stands for nicotinamide mononucleotide.

Instead of boosting NAD directly, increasing the body's levels of NMN may be an even better way to get NAD to the right places to slow age-related disease and degeneration.

While the benefits of NMN and NAD are essentially the same, NMN benefits include boosting the body's glucose tolerance and insulin production, which may help prevent diabetes.

NMN supplements are the easiest way to raise NMN levels. Still, the FDA is now investigating beta-nicotinamide mononucleotide (β-NMN) as a potential medication, which prevents manufacturers from selling it as a supplement.

5 key benefits of NAD

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

1. Slows down aging

There is no "miracle drug" that can stop the aging process. But NAD supplements may slow down the cellular processes that lead to physical and cognitive decline. We know 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. The best way to boost NAD levels in humans to influence longevity is still unclear.

2. Increases energy

NAD appears to help deliver energy to the cells to improve their function. This, in turn, helps the body improve and sustain athletic performance by boosting energy levels, metabolism, and circulation. NAD can also 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 is in part due to its role in protecting neurons. 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 neuroinflammation that results in 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"). However, more research is required to understand which cellular processes that boost lipid metabolism and lead to good cholesterol outcomes.

5. Reduces cancer risk

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

But 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.

How you can take NAD

Oral pills and NAD+ IV therapy are the two most popular forms of administration. But while NAD+ supplements are easier to purchase and administer, it's likely that NAD+ IV therapy leads to better uptake because it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream.

NAD is also available in the following forms:

  • Oral pills;
  • Sublingual solutions;
  • Liposomal liquids;
  • IV therapy;
  • Intramuscular injections;
  • Topical solutions;
  • Nasal sprays.

NAD supplements

One of the most popular forms, oral NAD+ supplements, is well-tolerated and the most convenient form of NAD therapy.

For example, liposomal NAD+ is an oral solution made with liposomes or tiny spheres, containing NAD+. Liposomal NAD+ benefits include better absorption as it may deliver NAD+ into the bloodstream more effectively than capsules. It’s also a better option for people who have difficulty swallowing pills or undergoing injections.

NAD IV therapy

NAD IV therapy, also called NAD drips, delivers the active ingredient to your bloodstream for maximum absorption. NAD precursors can also be delivered via an IV drip. Because intravenous therapy helps active ingredients bypass the digestive system, they typically result in more uptake.

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

  • Hard to schedule regularly.
  • Unsuitable for people who are fearful of needles.
  • Takes up to 60 minutes.
  • Are more expensive than other forms of NAD+ therapy.

NAD side effects

While NAD+ therapy is generally considered safe and lacking in long-term side effects, 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+ treatments.

It's best to find a reputable producer to avoid side effects from filler ingredients. That’s especially important when buying NMN supplements online.

Both NAD benefits and side effects are still under investigation by researchers. NAD+ therapies haven't been around long enough for us to know the long-term side effects. Occasionally, patients taking NAD+ supplements or NAD+ IV therapy may experience the following side effects:

  • Nausea;
  • Temporary brain fog;
  • Cramping during the IV therapy;
  • Headaches;
  • Fatigue;
  • Diarrhea.

However, NAD+ side effects are typically short-lived. If you’re not feeling well for a prolonged time after taking NAD supplements, seek medical help immediately.

How to increase NAD naturally

Apart from taking supplements, there are other ways how you can increase NAD levels in your body naturally:

Exercise. Physical activity, especially aerobic exercises, naturally increase the amount of NAD in the body without using supplements. Additionally, the health benefits of NAD+ include the ability to exercise longer.

Use UV protection. Preventing the premature destruction of NAD in the body is also crucial to healthy aging. Limiting unprotected sun exposure and intermittent fasting may help the body maintain NAD levels longer.

Eat foods containing NMN. NAD's precursor, NMN, can be found in foods like cabbage, broccoli, edamame, cucumber, and avocados.

Final thoughts

While we can't slow down the human body's inability to produce NAD as we age, the ability to take NAD+ supplements allows us to 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 out that precursors of NAD (such as NMN and biotin) are more effective in getting the body to produce NAD in old age.

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.

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Comments

Jeff Gilligan Jeff Gilligan
prefix 29 days 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.