Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+): Boosting Metabolism, Energy Levels, and Healthy Aging


Have you ever heard of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide? By definition, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, often referred to as NAD, NAD+, and NADH, is a coenzyme found in every living cell of the body. It’s a chemical compound involved in over 500 enzymatic reactions. It plays a crucial role in signaling your metabolism, boosting energy levels in the body, and supporting healthy aging.

Keep reading to find out how you can naturally increase your NAD+  levels, the benefits of taking NAD supplements, and why it holds so much promise for slowing down the process of aging and age-related diseases. (27)(39)

Increasing NAD+ levels in older adults holds the promise of increasing the body’s resilience not to just one disease, but many, and thereby extending healthy human lifespan.

Did you know?
NAD was discovered over 100 years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that it’s caught modern medicine’s attention in DNA repair and age-related changes. (39)

Low levels of NAD may be the reason you are left feeling sluggish and fatigued as you make your way into your 30s, 40s, and beyond. (39)

What is NAD?

NAD is the most abundant coenzyme in the body, and it acts as an oxidizing-reducing agent in the body. It’s important to note that NAD is a term sometimes used to refer to the two different forms of NAD collectively the molecules NAD+, and its reduced molecule form, NADH. Though keep in mind NAD is more commonly used as an abbreviation for NAD+. (27

What’s the difference between NAD+ and NADH?

The main difference between the NAD+ molecule and the NADH molecule is that NAD+ is the coenzyme, whereas NADH is the reduced form of the NAD+ molecule . Other differences between NAD+ and NADH include the following: (39)(37)

NAD is involved in oxidation-reduction reactions. Therefore, NAD contains an oxidized form and a reduced form.

What exactly are NAD+  and NADH responsible for in the body?

NAD+ and NADH act as fuel for many key biological processes in the body — with one of those processes being glycolysis. Glycolysis is the first stage in the breakdown of glucose to extract energy to be used to run your metabolism – which is what makes NAD so important when it comes to energy and your body’s metabolism. During glycolysis, the electrons produced during the oxidation of glucose end up captured in two molecules of NADH, which is made from Vitamin B3 (you may also know this as niacin).It can help to think of the NADH molecule like a taxi for electrons — NADH picks up electrons from glucose and then drops them off to other pathways of metabolism. (37)

So when our bodies have more NAD+, we have the ability to produce more NADH, which in turn helps us produce more energy, combat oxidative stress, boost cellular repair, address DNA damage, and better coordinate our circadian rhythms. (7)

Did you know?
Riboside nicotinamide (RN), a highly efficient precursor to NAD+ and a newly discovered form of vitamin B3, may help increase NAD levels, naturally. (32)

NAD production declines with age

Younger people have naturally higher levels of NAD, while levels in adults decline with age. As a result, children and young adults tend to have better cognitive function, physical stamina, and more potential for cell repair and regeneration than older adults.

As we age, the levels of NAD in our body begin to decline, resulting in altered metabolism and increased disease susceptibility. This drop happens for two reasons. One, we naturally produce less NAD as we grow older. And two, our bodies require and use more NAD as our aging bodies experience more damage and stress. (26) A reduction in NAD levels as we age is often reflected in the form of delayed cognitive response, reduced physical agility, and memory loss. (37)

Don’t worry; we have some good news if you’re starting to feel like you’re slowing down with age. There are ways you can naturally boost your NAD and energy levels if you want to remain as youthful as possible and enjoy a long and healthy life. 

Five ways to boost NAD levels naturally

1. Exercise

Breaking a sweat regularly is one of the best and more affordable ways for naturally boosting your NAD+ levels. Aerobic and resistance exercises push your body’s muscles to produce more mitochondria. This increased production of mitochondria triggered by workouts results in a natural boost in NAD levels in the body. (12)

2. Consume NAD- and RN-rich foods

Wondering what foods contain nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide? Research has indicated that cow’s milk is a good source of Riboside Nicotinamide (RN), which is an essential precursor to NAD+ in the body. Varieties of fish like tuna, salmon, and sardines are rich sources of NAD+ for the body, as well as whole grains and yeast products. Crimini mushrooms also help to naturally boost NAD levels. (11)

Did you know? 
If you are worried about low NADA levels, you should cut down on alcoholic beverages. Alcohol can interfere with and reduce the efficacy of NAD. (34)

Food sources of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide include green vegetables such as peas and asparagus. (11)

3. Protect yourself from the sun

Research has shown that too much sunlight from direct exposure can deplete your body of NAD+ levels. Why does this happen? Our bodies use NAD+ to repair cells that are damaged by direct UV rays exposure. (28)

Did you know? 
If excessive sunlight exposure is unavoidable, try and be diligent about wearing sunblock, natural sunscreens, and sunglasses to keep your NAD levels up.

4. Try fasting

Scientists have found that fasting increases the levels of NAD+. There is also some speculation that adopting a low carb-ketogenic diet or intermittent fasting can provide similar positive results and boost NAD+ levels. (46)(40)(17)

5. Take NAD boosters

NAD boosters, which are also known as NADH and NAD+ supplements, are another term for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide supplements that contain nicotinamide riboside (NR) or nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). Both are derived from niacin, otherwise known as vitamin B3. NMN are NR are precursor vitamins that your body converts into NAD+.

And as we mentioned earlier, when our body has more NAD +, we can produce more NADH to be used in glycolysis and the Krebs cycle. Recent studies have shown that taking NAD and NR supplements elevate NAD+ levels in healthy middle-aged and older adults. (32

The natural increase in NAD+ levels from taking NAD boosters can have a profound positive impact on treating a number of age-related conditions and illness in older adults.

14 Benefits of taking NAD boosters

We’ve gone ahead and laid out all the potential health benefits of NAD boosters that are supported by research from animal studies as well as human clinical trials.

1. Improved fertility in older women

A study has shown that women taking a supplement for boosting NAD+  levels may be an effective, non-invasive strategy for restoring and maintaining female fertility during aging, and for improving the success of IVF. (5)(20)

2. Reduced inflammation

Taking vitamin B3 supplements has been shown to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Vitamin B3 supplements can provide therapeutic benefits for various inflammation-based diseases. (30)(45)

3. Weight loss

Research has found an NR supplement can help manage weight loss in a high-fat diet. Taking NAD+  boosting supplements such as NR has been shown to help manage weight loss in obese rats. (9)(38)

4. Safe long-term treatment for chronic kidney disease

Clinical studies suggest that vitamin B3 can be taken to slow the progression of hyperlipidemia and to lower phosphate levels in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). (36)

5. Improvement in symptoms caused by diabetes

An animal study with diabetic rats has shown a reduction of problems associated with diabetes. (1)(21)

6. Slow down the progression of fatty liver disease

A trial’s findings have suggested that niacin treatment may reduce liver fat content in patients. Alcohol-induced fatty liver disease has also been directly linked to slow down the progression of alcoholic fatty-liver-disease. (31)(24)

7. Improvement of age-related eye health problems

Niacin (vitamin B3) has been shown to significantly improve eye health in aging adults, and conditions such as glaucoma. (16)(43)

Did you know?
Taking Vitamin C supplements has been linked to increased male fertility. (3)

8. Reduced signs of aging

NR has emerged as a top-rated supplement to be taken by healthy middle-aged and older adults to slow down the effects of aging. In a 6-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover clinical trial, chronic supplementation of NR was shown to be effective at stimulating NAD+ levels and speeding up metabolism in healthy aging adults. (32)

9. Improved hearing in older adults

Age-related hearing loss (ARHL), which affects 40% of people over the age of 65, has been linked to low NAD+ levels. Researchers believe maintaining healthy levels of NAD+ levels in the body through supplements and diet is potentially a ‘no-lose’ strategy for the treatment and prevention of ARHL. (35)

10. Improved athletic performance, muscle development, and overall motor functions

NAD+ and its phosphorylated form — nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP+) — are both critical molecules in cell signaling for athletes. They play crucial roles in muscle development. (22)(2)

11. Improved symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)

Supplementing with NR is an effective treatment for people who have chronic fatigue syndrome. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, three-month-long clinical trials, patients with CFS given 20mg of oral NR experienced a decrease in anxiety, stress, and maximum heart rates. (4)(19)

Did you know?
5-10mg of NR used daily for up to 24 weeks is an effective treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). (6)

Looking for the best NAD supplements to combat CFS? Studies have shown that taking 10mg of NADH in combination with 100 mg of coenzyme Q10 twice daily for eight weeks is effective. (10)

12. Reduced blood pressure, cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease

Animal trails have shown NAD boosters may be quite useful in preventing age-related heart problems. One study found that oral B-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide effectively lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Studies have also shown that taking niacin (vitamin b3) with meals may also be used to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. (8)(41)(14)(33)(42)

13. Improved memory, mental alertness, and treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

A study done for six months found that Alzheimer’s patients taking 10 mg of NADH a day had significantly higher scores on the Mattis Dementia Rating Scale and the Mini-Mental State Examination than those treated with placebo. Another study also found that taking the NAD booster —RN — significantly improves synaptic transmission, learning, memory, and motor function. (13)(22)

Did you know?
Some practitioners prescribe NADH supplements to protect against side effects associated with the drug zidovudine (AZT) used to treat AIDS as well as post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). (18)

14. Improved nerve signals in Parkinson’s patients

Some evidence also suggests NAD boosters may increase nerve signals for people with Parkinson’s disease; however, more information and research in the form of double-blind and clinical studies are needed to know how NADH helps. (6)(15)

Do NAD supplement boosters or IV treatments of B vitamins have any side effects?

As far as side effects and safety, practitioners consider NAD boosters safe for most people when used appropriately and for a short period (up to 12 weeks). NR and NMN are not known to interact with any prescription drugs or other dietary supplements.

When done intravenously, the FDA recommends 800 to 1800 mg of NAD boosters per day, over 3-8 hours treatment for 7-16 days, depending on drug history. (6)

Most adults do not experience any side effects when taking the recommended daily oral dosage of 10 mg, although due to lack of research, pregnant and breastfeeding women should speak to their practitioners before use. (6)

The bottom line

NAD is the molecule that is responsible for carrying out virtually all the redox and metabolic reactions in the body. Also, it is involved in cell repair and slowing down the speed of aging. If your goal is to maintain optimum wellness well into your 60s and beyond, consider talking to your practitioner about natural ways to boost your NAD levels in the body with NAD boosters.

While most anti-aging products try to reverse the signs of aging on your skin, animal studies and clinical trials have shown that using supplements to increase your body’s NAD levels may enable the body to reverse the signs of aging from the inside out. (39)

Although there is a lot more research to be done, many recent studies are pointing to NAD as a key factor in healthy aging and longevity!

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