Benefits and Risks of NAD Supplement, According to Doctors
First season of The Kardashians saw Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber receiving intravenous NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) drops together, bags of yellow fluid hanging from their arms. If you were intrigued by the scene but hate needles (or expensive treatments), you might be curious about NAD supplements: pills, powders, and gels that wellness-conscious people turn to. rotate to increase their energy levels and cognition and generally stay healthy as they age. For the full story on NAD supplementation, including whether it’s safe and beneficial, read on.
What is NAD?
First, some information on nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, a naturally occurring compound in your cells which is called NAD. The simplified explanation is that NAD plays a role in the process your body uses to generate energy from food, according to Joshua Rabinowitz, MD, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University. “In order to generate energy from food, you first turn NAD into NADH [the reduced form of NAD; the H stands for hydrogen]then you use NADH to drive ATP production [adenosine triphosphate]which is the most common form of usable energy in your body’s cells,” says Dr. Rabinowitz.
“In addition to that, [NAD] has multiple signaling functions that help regulate the proper functioning of the body,” says Dr. Rabinowitz. For instance, “[NAD] activates enzymes called sirtuinswhich have many different effects on the body, including decreasing inflammation, and there are some theories that it may help the body” by increasing longevity, says Neil Paulvin, DO, specialist in functional medicine and integrative sports medicine. However, “it is still being studied” to better understand the potential benefits, he says. NAD exists in two formsNAD+ and NADH, and the molecule switches between the two forms when performing its functions in your body, says Joseph Baur, Ph.D.professor of physiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
What are the benefits of NAD?
“Preclinical data shows that taking NAD may provide health benefits such as improved muscle strength and performanceboosting energy and metabolismand cognition aidas well as the prevention of certain diseases of aging,” says Anant Vinjamoori, MD, chief medical officer at modern age. “In addition to these overall health benefits, many disease states, such as chronic fatigue, inflammatory disorders, and metabolic disorders, involve NAD depletion issues.”
At this point, more studies are needed to confirm that the benefits of NAD supplements apply to humans. “It’s clear that [taking NAD-boosting supplements has a benefit] in rodents,” says Baur. In humans, there have been both positive and negative studies, and they have generally been small and “shorter in duration than [researchers] would like to finally see,” he says.
NAD levels decrease with age as NAD increases destroyed by a specific enzyme which increases with age, but the decline may not be so dramatic, says Baur. “Generally it may be [a] 30% decrease between a really old person and a young person,” he says. “And so that’s the big question on the pitch right now. Is it [decrease] enough to matter?”
What’s wrong with NAD supplements?
Although you may have heard someone say that they take “NAD supplements”, they are technically not taking NAD itself. Instead of taking NAD, you take compounds that your body can convert in NAD. “When you take an oral NAD supplement, you’re actually taking an NAD precursor, which is a building block of NAD,” says Dr. Vinjamoori. “NAD is a complete molecule [which] cannot in fact be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.”
When you buy these supplements, you’ll see either nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) or nicotinamide riboside (NR) — two precursors to NAD — on the label. NMN is a compound that your body can convert to NAD and NR is a compound that your body can convert to NMN. For convenience, this article will collectively refer to these precursor supplements as “NAD supplements,” as that is how they are generally known.
Are there better ways to increase NAD levels than NAD supplements?
Oral NMN or NR supplements aren’t the only ways that can increase your body’s level of NAD. “There is some evidence that calorie restriction may also increase NAD levels in certain tissues,” says Baur. (Of course, work with a doctor or dietitian to get an idea of your personal situation caloric needs This is the key.)
“Exercise [also] clearly increases NADat least in skeletal muscle,” explains Baur. “And exercising regularly is probably the strongest recommendation. [anyone] can do. If you’re not optimizing your exercise levels, then you’re definitely not doing something that would really, really benefit you.”
NAD-boosting IV drops are another option, as Jenner and Bieber can attest. “From a research perspective, there are currently no in-depth studies comparing IV NAD to oral NAD precursors, but oral NAD precursors are significantly better studied,” says Dr. Vinjamoori. “However, in my [experience]IV NAD tends to have a deeper and more noticeable effect on patients than oral NAD. (Editor’s note: Modern Age offers NAD IV drops as a service.)
“I think there are more likely ways to boost NAD than taking the supplement,” says Dr. Rabinowitz. “I think if you want to increase NAD in your tissues, there’s a better chance of having an effect if you were to take something like NR or NMN intravenously.” On the other hand, “less is also known about the safety of taking these supplements intravenously than orally,” he says. A NAD IV infusion may be more beneficial, but it may also be riskier.
What Else You Need to Know Before Trying NAD Supplements
Keep in mind that even though NAD supplements are available over-the-counter, they can still carry risks. “These supplements are similar to niacin and when used in pharmaceutical doses, niacin can cause severe muscle or liver problems in some people, so these supplements may not be benign,” says Dr. Rabinowitz. (ICYDK, niacin is a B vitamin and another NAD precursor.) “…and I do not recommend taking them while pregnant or breastfeeding.”
Moreover, the supplement industry is largely unregulated, unlike drugs that are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so it is essential to speak with your doctor and do your research before starting an NAD supplement. “There are really a lot of companies that fly at night,” says Baur. “And when people analyze the pills available, they often find that many of them contain a mixture of, for example, nicotinamide and riboside, and they are not even linked. It is not the actual molecule . ”
Pro Tip: To find a quality supplement, NAD or otherwise, consider going with an option that is used for research. “You can watch clinicaltrials.gov“, says Baur. “There is a website that lists all the ongoing trials and [you can] looking for clinical trials going on with these molecules…that’s definitely what I would be looking for if I was going to take something, knowing that they’ve handed it over to scientists who have the ability and have verified what they are returned.”
Ultimately, the jury is still out on how safe and effective NAD supplements are. If you’re sold, be sure to do your homework before adding any of the supplements to your daily routine.
This piece has been verified by Emily Peterson.