Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide, NAD for short, is being used therapeutically in recent years to help in combating ageing and managing pain. There’s a lot of buzz around the benefits of supplementing NAD and the possibility of slowing some of the common symptoms of ageing with this “magic enzyme”, but does it work?
NAD is a form of Vitamin B3 that occurs naturally in the body and is associated with energy production and ensuring proper cellular function. It’s one of the most vital nutrients that we need to function, as its primary role is to transfer energy from one cell to another. This is how our body converts food and nutrients into energy that can be used by our cells. NAD is also used to maintain a healthy metabolism and circadian rhythm, and to combat DNA damage. NAD levels decrease as we age because production slows down and there’s an increased need as our body uses more to repair damaged DNA cells. Supplementing the NAD levels in our body may help to assist these processes and give a boost to our energy and vitality. Low NAD levels are also associated with increased risks of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
So will supplementing your NAD levels yield real benefits? Studies have yet to give conclusive evidence of the advantages to supplementation, but the results do look promising and it’s likely that we’ll know more about the long-term effects of NAD in the next few years. Short term studies have shown that an increase in NAD levels can improve energy levels, metabolic health, short-term memory, and cognition. Maintaining healthy NAD levels is vital to supporting cell function throughout your body and experiencing healthy ageing, especially since by age 40 our natural NAD levels decrease to half of what they are in our youth. If you’re interested in maintaining healthy metabolism, sleep cycle, and energy levels, we’d recommend keeping an eye on your NAD levels and trying some simple strategies to increase them.
Causes of decreased NAD levels
Overall production of NAD naturally decreases as we age, but there are other factors that contribute to lower levels as well. Alcohol use, overeating, high blood sugar and insulin levels all reduce the amount of available NAD in the body. DNA damage also affects these levels as well.
How to increase your NAD levels
A common and easy way to increase your NAD levels is to take a supplement. These supplements aren’t pure NAD being delivered into your body but rather the substances needed by the body in order to produce NAD. These are commonly amino acids and vitamins that can be found in the foods we eat, often delivered in easy and convenient capsules or powders. One downside to taking powder forms of this supplement is that much of the powder is destroyed by the stomach acid, decreasing its effectiveness. Injections or IV therapies are more direct and effective, although they may not be ideal for those with an aversion to needles. Regardless of what form it takes, it’s always recommended to discuss with your physician before adding supplements to your diet.
Although supplements can be an effective way to raise your NAD levels, a more efficient and accessible way to maintain healthy levels is to make lifestyle changes.
Because of the role NAD plays in generating energy, regularly working out encourages the increase of production of NAD. In addition to the many other benefits of exercise, daily workouts require more NAD for energy which triggers the body to produce more. Staying physically active can make a big difference in preventing or slowing down some aspects of the ageing process and diseases associated with ageing.
Having an excess of carbohydrates in your diet can reduce your NAD levels, but fermented foods like kombucha and fructose found in honey and fruits increases the production of NAD. Decreasing caloric intake or practising intermittent fasting can also increase these levels. Cutting back on alcohol in your diet can also support NAD production, as well as having numerous other health benefits since alcohol boosts inflammation, increases cortisol, and damages your liver.
Regulate Circadian Rhythm
Practising healthy sleeping habits can help the body regulate the production and storage of NAD. Getting sun exposure first thing in the morning, reducing screen time in the evenings, not eating late at night, and following a consistent sleep schedule can all help with regulating your circadian rhythm.
If you’re interested in trying NAD supplements, talk to your doctor about the best fit for you. Supplements are not recommended for those who are pregnant or who have prior conditions, and are not a substitute for a nutritious diet, exercise, and any treatments you may be on.
By April Greider for Healf Journal