If you keep up with the latest health trends, chances are you’ve heard of NAD. A wellness buzzword that’s currently in the spotlight, NAD (which stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is an energy-generating coenzyme found in every cell of the body. And while the body produces it naturally, NAD levels decline as we age, which is where supplementation comes into play.
Go back to episode five of Keeping up with the Kardashians and you may remember the moment best friends Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber met to have NAD+ IV therapy. I’m going to be doing NAD for the rest of my life and never getting old, Bieber told cameras. Hot in the US, the NAD market was valued at $535.53 million in 2022 and is only expected to grow.
Now making waves in the UK, NAD+ (the crude form of NAD and the most used term when referring to it) is taking over the wellness sphere. Post covid, UK consumers have learned the value of investing in preventive health strategies and there has been a huge increase in people actively seeking evidence-based solutions such as NAD+, notes Dr. Nichola Conlon, molecular biologist and expert on healthy aging.
With several reported health benefits (from boosting energy to promoting healthy skin), it’s easy to see why NAD+ supplementation sounds enticing. But can he really go back in time? Ahead, experts answer key questions about NAD+ and whether you’ll benefit from adding NAD+ supplements into your wellness regimen.
What is NAD+?
NAD+ is a crucial coenzyme found in our cells. It plays an important role in the regulation of cellular functions, neuroprotection, DNA repair and anti-aging. If you have high NAD+ levels, it means you’ll have plenty of cellular energy, your cells will function optimally, and you’ll feel more energetic and alert, says Conlon. It also means your body can repair itself faster, which helps keep your organs, including your skin, healthy.
Do we need to supplement our NAD+ levels?
As we age, our NAD+ levels decrease by halving every 20 years since birth. And as our NAD+ levels drop, energy production and cellular repair decline, leading to many of the common ailments associated with aging like wrinkles, loss of energy and brain fog, says Conlon.
Scientists have shown that restoring NAD+ to youthful levels can rejuvenate old cells back to a youthful state, leading to multiple beneficial effects against aging and age-related diseases, he continues. Supplements and IV therapy can raise NAD+ levels, and some lifestyle changes can help slow the decline of NAD+.
How can we raise our NAD+ levels?
While we can’t stop the natural decline of NAD+, we can help slow down the rate at which our bodies consume significant reserves of NAD+. Avoid things that are known to deplete NAD+ like poor diet, excess alcohol, smoking and sunburn, advises Conlon. Look for foods composed of amino acids that are also NAD+ precursors, such as broccoli and kale, as well as some fruits, adds Dr. Melanie Angelova, Ph.D., Optimize Health.
Additionally, exercise, especially resistance training and HIIT, has been found to ignite the body’s NAD+ production pathway. A recent study looked at metabolites in the muscle tissue of young and older adults, finding that adults who exercised rigorously had similar NAD+ levels to young adults, says Angelova.
Healthy habits aside, research suggests that NAD+ supplementation can boost our levels. Boosting NAD+ in cells and animals has yielded some impressive results, so now the focus has shifted to human clinical trials, says Conlon, who adds that notable results so far include improvements in cardiovascular function, reduced inflammation, improved cellular energy production, and reversal of biomarkers of aging.
Do NAD+ Supplements Really Work?
While there are no large-scale clinical trials in humans yet, there is promising research suggesting that NAD+ supplementation may have several health benefits. Below, we describe the main ones:
- Increased alertness and energy: One of the more notable benefits of increasing NAD+ is an improvement in both physical and mental energy, says Conlon. It means increased stamina, improved cognitive function, and reduced brain fog.
- Improved sleep: Sleep also improves as, according to Conlon, NAD+ can help regulate your circadian rhythm, ensuring you get quality, restful sleep. A 2022 study found that after 12 weeks of NMN supplementation (one of the precursors of NAD), fatigue improved in older adults.
- Advanced Recovery: In addition to improving physical energy, increasing NAD+ stores has been found to aid muscle recovery after exercise. This is why several athletes are said to have regular NAD+ IV therapy.
- Hair and Nail Growth: Some supplement users have seen an improvement in hair and nail health. That’s because as your cellular health improves, the body puts more resources into these less important areas of our biology, explains Conlon.
- Collagen Regeneration: If you want to improve skin health, then you need to improve your cellular health. And that’s exactly what NAD+ does, says Conlon. For example, loss of collagen leads to wrinkles, so for years people have focused on ways to replace collagen with the best collagen supplements and creams. But we now know that the best way to increase collagen is to protect the health of our collagen-producing cells (fibroblasts), which has been shown to do by increasing NAD+.
But while the advantages seem manifold, what about the disadvantages?
So far, there have been no reported negative side effects of taking NAD+ supplements. But the safety of long-term use and high-dose supplementation is still being studied. NAD+ IV therapy is usually done very slowly to minimize a feeling of muscle cramps or nausea that tends to pass in about 10 minutes, says Angelova.
What is the most effective way to supplement NAD+?
NAD+ supplementation is available in various forms IV, injection, orally in pill or liquid form. The most popular options are IV NAD+ therapy and supplements containing NAD+ precursors. According to Angelova, the safest way to raise NAD+ levels, as demonstrated in clinical studies, is through intravenous (IV) administration directly with NAD+.
Available at Optimize Health, a single NAD+ IV infusion will set you back 490, and the IV will take about 90 minutes to infuse. For a quicker, more cost-effective solution, Conlon recommends looking for an NAD+ enhancing supplement that helps restore the body’s natural NAD+ production pathways like his signature supplement, Nuchido TIME+.
It’s important to note that you can’t ingest pure NAD+, says Conlon. NAD+ is an unstable molecule that is broken down in the digestive system before it can reach the bloodstream, let alone the cells where it is actually needed. That is why, most of the powders and pills contain its precursors, nicotinamide riboside (NR) or nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). These precursors are converted into NAD+ within cells.
But as of earlier this year, NMN can no longer be sold as a supplement in the United States. That’s because it’s now under investigation as a potential new drug that will require extensive testing in humans. However, NMN supplements are still available to buy here in the UK, although we recommend you speak to your doctor before adding them to your wellbeing regime.
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