If you’re like most people in the world, you can almost feel yourself getting older every year. Some people start to feel more tired than they used to, while others might see changes in their physical or mental abilities.
It’s no secret that our bodies start to decline as we age. This will start to show in most people around the age of 50, but there are a variety of reasons why it might happen much sooner for some people.
One of the major reasons is due to a molecule found in all living cells inside the body — NAD. Originally discovered in 1906, it wasn’t until the 1960s that scientists started to really understand this molecule. Now nearly 120 years after its discovery, scientists are still hard at work trying to understand every last thing about NAD.
Although research continues, we have learned enough about NAD to start seeing supplements designed to increase those very levels in the body. Today, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about these supplements and whether they’re worth your hard-earned money. We’ll also let you know our choices for the best NAD supplements so you can find the one that is right for you.
Here we go!
What Is NAD?
Our bodies consist of trillions of cells that are responsible for virtually everything happening inside your body. Some cells are larger than others and some have different functions, but they all have a few things in common — including the fact that they all require NAD to do their job.
NAD, short for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, is found in all living cells. You might know NAD as the coenzyme form of Niacin — which we all know as Vitamin B3.
NAD is responsible for providing and transferring energy throughout the cell to be used in hundreds of chemical reactions. Without these chemical reactions, our body wouldn’t be functioning.
To put it in simple terms, think of NAD as your mailman. Your mailman is getting his truck ready in the morning and it’s filled with packages — think of these packages as energy. Your mailman’s (NAD) job is to deliver the packages (energy) to the correct houses (chemical reactions) in the neighborhood (cell).
Now imagine that mailman working 24/7, 365 days a year. Eventually, that mailman is going to get slow, his routes will take longer, and the houses won’t be getting their mail when needed. I think you get the point here.
Unfortunately, most people are heavily confused when reading about NAD because it is found in many different forms — NAD, NADP, NAD+, NADH, NADP+, and NADPH are some of the most common.
Don’t worry, we’ll break it down into layman’s terms.
What’s The Difference Between NAD+ And NADH?
As we now know, NAD is the “original” form before the molecule it is broken down or added to. The difference between NAD+ and NADH is actually pretty simple, though there’s quite a bit of science behind it.
Going back to the mailman metaphor, we can start to understand this difference. Think of NAD+ as a mailman with no more packages to deliver. Since NAD is working around the clock, it’s going to need more energy to transfer — in other words, the mailman can go pick up more packages to deliver. This is NAD in its oxidized state.
On the other hand, NADH is simply the mailman that has packages in the truck and is “in-transit.” The H stands for hydride, which is the energy package the NAD is carrying. This is NAD in its reduced state. The process of going from oxidized state to reduced state, then back to oxidized state, is known as Redox.
As you can see, the difference is simple. When NAD is inhabited by and transferring energy, it’s called NADH (because it’s carrying a hydride). When NAD is looking for a hydride (package) to deliver, it’s called NAD+ (it has a positive charge that will eventually cancel out when a hydride is found).
How Does NAD Improve Anabolism And Catabolism?
You’ve probably heard of metabolism, but not anabolism or catabolism. A body’s metabolism refers to the hundreds of chemical reactions that break down the food we eat. Once broken down into molecules, they can be used for energy or building larger molecules.
Catabolism is referred to as the chemical reactions involved in breaking food down into energy. One of the most notable forms of catabolism is called cellular respiration, which is the process of producing ATP — the energy molecule used to generate and transfer energy.
When food is broken down, the energy is passed on to NAD+ — converting it into NADH. From there, NADH transfers the energy through the electron transport chain in mitochondria. This is where ATP is produced, which is how your cells get the energy to function (heart beat, muscle contractions, brain power).
On the other hand, anabolism is referred to as the chemical reactions that create larger molecules from smaller ones. Instead of using transferred energy, these reactions count on stored energy.
Since not all food will be broken down completely, some of it will be used to build and provide structure to cells. In this case, NAD will be used to donate high-energy electrons to stimulate the process.
Another thing to note here is the difference between NAD and NADP. NADP is simply NAD with a phosphate connected to it. The only real difference here is NAD will generally be used in catabolic reactions, while NADP is used in anabolic reactions. Much like NAD, you’ll find NADP in both NADP+ and NADPH.
Do NAD Levels Decline As We Age?
One of the reasons scientists are so fixated on NAD is due to the decline in NAD levels as we age. Multiple studies suggest our NAD levels are nearly cut in half by the time we hit the age of 50.
Of course, this will lead to a variety of health issues in humans and will cause the aging process to show throughout the body. Scientists have discovered that this is largely due to the presence of CD38, a coenzyme that effectively destroys NAD levels over time.
In fact, scientists have discovered several “NAD-consuming enzymes” — some of which are good for the body and some that are bad. CD38 and SARM1 are some of the negative ones, while PARP’s and sirtuins are some of the positive ones.
Inflammation that increases as we age is one of the believed precursors to an excess of CD38, which eventually leads to the death of NAD.
Can We Increase Our NAD Levels Naturally?
While certain reactions in the body will threaten NAD levels over time, there are a variety of things we can do every day to help increase NAD levels and restore the damaged ones.
I know you’re probably sick of hearing these natural remedies, but they’re essential to longevity and vitality.
First up, we have exercise. Studies have shown that NAD deficiencies lead to less strength and endurance, a longer recovery time, and a more difficult time repairing muscle tissue. In addition to that, a regular exercise routine can boost NAD production and allow your mitochondria to function properly.
Fasting has also shown to increase NAD levels, even by depleting your average calorie count by just 20-30%. Keto diets are also gaining attention as an NDA-boosting technique.
In addition to that, too much sunlight has been shown to deplete NAD levels stored in the skin, a healthy diet can give your cells the fuel it needs, and receiving a good night’s sleep will increase NAD in the body.
Lastly, you can always turn to supplements if some of these behavioral and habitual changes are too difficult to maintain. More on that below!
Getting The Most Out Of NAD Supplements
As we learn more and more about NAD, we are starting to see a variety of NAD supplements available on the market. A majority of these are designed to increase NAD levels, but the right NAD supplement will do so much more.
Keep in mind, you’ll also want to reduce the amount of NAD being destroyed and pay attention to the free radicals that are created in cells during ATP production — which NAD is a part of. Ingredients that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties will be a good choice here.
While we’re at it, you might as well find ingredients that contribute to better exercise, better sleep, better mood management, and better health overall. When one chemical reaction in the body is off, it can throw off everything else.
Below, we’ll discuss some of the ingredients that have shown to increase and maintain NAD levels in the body. Let’s take a look!
NR & NMN
In recent years, scientists have discovered several precursors to NAD that have been used in supplements — NR and NMN. Both of these molecules are forms of Vitamin B3 and will eventually be converted into NAD+. This will immediately begin the processes described above.
NR, also known as nicotinamide riboside, is the real home run hitter here. It enters the cell exactly as is and will actually bypass a lot of the processes that other precursors need to take before being converted to NAD+ (due to having its own pathway).
NMN, also known as nicotinamide mononucleotide, is the less-effective version. It will likely need to convert into NR before entering the cell, just to convert back into NMN once inside the cell. From there, it will start the process of converting into NAD+ (a longer process than NR).
Another form of Vitamin B3, Niacin won’t be as effective as NR but will be found in a variety of foods we eat on a daily basis. Since its discovery in the 1930s, scientists have found several flaws with Niacin in terms of NAD production.
First, it is known to cause skin flushing in some people when taken in high doses. Secondly, it is only used in certain cells and won’t be utilized in all of them like NR. More specifically, it won’t do much to help the brain — which is extremely important.
It’s necessary to get enough Vitamin B3 each day, which is 15mg, but it won’t be the only form of Vitamin B3 you need.
Yet another form of Vitamin B3 that’s essential for NAD production, but won’t live up to the effectiveness of nicotinamide riboside. Nicotinamide (NAM) is a little better than Niacin (NA), but still comes with several flaws.
First, it is known to inhibit sirtuins, which need NAD presence to function properly. Secondly, scientists have figured out that our bodies have a more difficult time processing NA as we age. The older you get, the harder it will be for your body to process NA.
As the tip of the iceberg, NA won’t have any cholesterol-reducing effects — something that Niacin provides.
Best NAD Supplements
Much like every supplement found today, the market is going to be flooded with different brands all making different claims and guarantees. Finding a supplement that works for you and delivers on its expectations can be rather difficult.
If you’ve been scouring the web for an NAD supplement you can trust, you might find yourself rather frustrated. Not only is it a tough subject to understand, but it’s an even tougher supplement to find.
To help you make a uniformed decision, we’ll break down three of our favorite NAD supplements and why you should consider them as a part of your daily routine.
Basis by Elysium Health
Elysium Health is one of the leaders in NAD supplements today. Their product, Basis, consists of two ingredients that promote healthy NAD levels and productive cells — NR-E and PT.
NR-E is their patented form of Crystalline Nicotinamide Riboside (NR), which we described above. PT, also known as pterostilbene, is an extremely powerful antioxidant that helps reduce oxidative stress in cells.
Elysium Health designed Basis to increase NAD+, activate sirtuins, support metabolism and cellular energy, promote anti-aging effects, and help maintain DNA.
Basis has 250mg of NR-E and 50mg of PT. Each serving is two capsules and each bottle contains 30 servings. You can purchase Basis on Elysium Health’s official website for $60 per bottle — or $40 if you subscribe to a monthly delivery.
Tru Niagen is another NAD supplement that has gained a lot of popularity recently. It’ll only contain one special ingredient — Niagen — which is simply their patented form of Nicotinamide Riboside Chloride.
Tru Niagen is designed to replenish NAD+, promote cellular repair, maintain healthy mitochondria, and energize your cells. While it doesn’t contain the antioxidants found in Basis, it does contain the most-studied patented form of NR.
Niagen NR has been involved in 100+ pre-clinical trials, has been involved in more human trials than any other NR supplement, and holds 3 FDA Safety Notifications.
Each capsule contains 300mg of Niagen NR and each bottle contains 90 servings (90 capsules). You can purchase Tru Niagen on their official website for $120 per bottle (3-month supply). You can save money with a delivery every 3 months ($15 off per delivery).
Life Extension Cell Regenerator
Last but not least, we have Life Extension Cell Regenerator. It’ll actually use the same ingredient found in Tru Niagen and contain the same 300mg dosage. At the same time, there are two major differences between the two.
The good news is it comes with a 100mg option for those that want a lower dose. The bad news is Life Extension won’t come with the support from ChromaDex — a pharmaceutical patent company. With that being said, it doesn’t mean Life Extension won’t work.
Each bottle will come with 30 capsules, intended for a one-month’s supply. The 300mg option will cost around $40 per bottle, while the 100mg option will cost around $20.