Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD): Benefits & Uses

Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD): Benefits & Uses


Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is a compound found naturally in your body’s cells. It’s also available in supplement form. NAD, sometimes referred to by its other formats, NAD+ and NADH, is a key player in various cell functions, including helping to regulate your body’s metabolic and inflammatory responses.

Because NAD levels naturally decline with age, researchers have hypothesized that NAD supplementation could improve symptoms of age-related conditions and metabolic disorders, promote muscle recovery, and more.

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Early research shows that NAD supplementation may have various health benefits, though additional larger human clinical trials are needed to draw more conclusive evidence.

Studies also suggest that NAD levels may be raised in the body by taking what experts call NAD vitamin “precursors” or “boosters.” Two forms of vitamin B3 (or niacin) serve this purpose: nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) and nicotinamide riboside (NR).

May Slow Certain Effects of Aging

NAD levels naturally decline with age, so NAD supplementation has been studied for its role in potentially preventing or reversing age-related health conditions.

Older animal studies have found that NAD helped prolong the number of years that subjects were in good health and reduced signs of premature aging. Now, the focus is on human clinical trials, where researchers have initially observed that supplementation of NAD precursors (such as NMN and NR) may improve signs of aging, including:

  • Cardiovascular health and other physical signs of aging in middle-aged and older adults
  • Aging skeletal muscle and anti-inflammatory effects, potentially helping to prevent a loss of muscle function, strength, and mass
  • Mitochondrial function (or the cellular energy process) in people with heart failure

While these findings suggest that NAD supplements could effectively promote anti-aging effects, broader clinical trials are needed before NAD supplements can be specifically recommended for this purpose.

Appears To Improve Cognitive Function

Due to its potential link to anti-aging, experts suggest that NAD supplementation might reduce nerve cell inflammation, which can contribute to age-related cognitive disorders like Parkinson’s disease.

Early studies suggested that people with Parkinson’s may be living with a NAD+ deficiency. Then, a 2023 early-stage clinical trial found that a high dose of a NAD precursor (1500 milligrams of NR twice a day) improved NAD levels and certain Parkinson’s symptoms.

In addition, Alzheimer’s disease-related dementia seemed to respond positively to daily NAD supplementation in at least one study. However, much more research is needed in this area to confirm if there is a connection.

Could Reduce Premature Skin Aging

Another area where NAD supplementation may be beneficial is skin health.

NAD’s anti-aging effects may help your body repair DNA. This could potentially help repair UV-damaged skin and prevent premature skin aging. Additionally, applying NAD topically has been shown to benefit skin conditions like psoriasis (which causes skin cells to multiply too quickly, causing a build-up of skin cells) by slowing down skin cell multiplication.

NAD supplementation’s potential skin regenerative abilities need to be studied further before these treatments can be targeted to specific groups of people.

Potentially Supports Metabolic Health

Metabolic health—which describes your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, insulin, cholesterol levels, and more —could be improved by NAD in some ways.

Research shows that increased levels of NAD in the body seem to support health conditions like obesity and metabolic syndrome. These conditions can increase your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

A small 2021 study of postmenopausal people with prediabetes who had excess weight or obesity found that taking 250 milligrams (mg) of NAD per day for 10 weeks improved insulin sensitivity. Other studies have found improvements in body composition, lipid levels, exercise capacity, and muscle composition with NAD supplementation.

Because these findings are relatively new, additional studies are needed to better understand this connection.

NAD occurs naturally in the body and can be naturally increased through lifestyle factors like regular exercise and adequate sleep. NAD is also found in certain foods, such as turkey, cabbage, cucumber, and soybeans. It can be taken as a supplement in capsule, powder, liquid, or intravenous (IV) form.

Some studies have noted that taking NAD supplements in split doses may be more beneficial. For example, a 250 mg dose of NAD may be divided into two doses, while a 1,000 mg dose might be divided into four doses. Like other forms of vitamin B, it appears to be tolerated with or without food.

Dosage

Dosing for NAD supplements hasn’t been officially established. Studies have examined taking NAD supplements ranging from 250-1,000 mg daily. Most NAD supplements on the market are on the lower end of that range per capsule, but it’s important to look at the bottle and ensure you know how much you’re taking.

Because dosing recommendations can work differently for everyone, consult your healthcare provider to ensure you take the amount that works for you and your health.

NAD is generally considered safe. When taken in dosages of up to 1,000 mg, the supplement hasn’t been shown to harm human health.

That said, because human research on NAD is still ongoing, experts warn that there isn’t enough data to know whether NAD is safe in people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Always talk to your healthcare provider about any kind of supplementation if you fall under those categories.

Potential Drug Interactions

Some initial data shows that NAD supplements may interact with certain medications, including:

  • Antidepressants: For some people, taking antidepressants can interfere with NAD levels in the body, making the supplements less effective.
  • Insulin: Because NAD supplements can interact with insulin sensitivity, people who depend on insulin medications may need different amounts of NAD to get the same effect.
  • Anti-aging supplements: Certain supplements that appear to be involved with the aging process, like coenzyme Q10 or quercetin, could increase the effects of NAD supplements.

If you’re currently taking prescription medications or other supplements, make sure you consult your prescribing healthcare provider to ensure you can safely add NAD to your routine.

Dietary supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the same way that medications are.

When looking for an NAD supplement, purchasing products from companies that use independent third-party testers is the safest route. Some of the reputable, recommended testers include NSF International and the U.S. Pharmacopeia. These organizations test products for purity and quality and operate under strict standards for supplement safety.

Researchers have pointed out that oral NAD supplements may contain NAD precursors, like nicotinamide (NAM) or nicotinic acid (NA). Another NAD precursor, nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), is no longer allowed to be marketed in the U.S. as a dietary supplement, as the FDA says it no longer meets supplement qualifications.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also evaluating whether NAD classifies as a bulk drug substance or an active ingredient that could be used in pharmaceutical products.

When sticking to the daily amounts that have been studied, it is unlikely you’ll take too much NAD. That said, there’s much more research to be done on NAD supplementation, including larger studies with higher dosages for longer periods of time.

To be safe, always discuss NAD and other supplement dosage questions with a healthcare provider based on the supplement label.

So far, no severe side effects linked to NAD supplementation have been identified. Researchers have suggested that because NAD precursors (like forms of vitamin B3) are generally well-tolerated, it’s likely that NAD would be experienced in the same way.

Some of the more mild reported short-term side effects of NAD supplements—which can happen with ingesting high doses of niacin—include:

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is a compound that supports cellular processes in your body. As NAD levels naturally drop with age, supplementing it has been seen as a potential treatment for age-related conditions, with possible benefits for metabolism, cognitive function, and skin health. However, more extensive human studies are needed before NAD supplements can be widely recommended.

Always consult a healthcare provider before taking NAD supplements to ensure they’re safe for you.

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