NAD+ supplements are proving popular as people seek new ways to fight the onset of aging, but how much is too much?
Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+) supplements are becoming increasingly popular as a way to slow down aging. Makers suggest it can help with all sorts of things from sharpening your mind, to reducing your chances of developing Alzheimer’s, heart disease and cancer, but how much is the right amount, what are the side effects, and what form of NAD+ is best to take?
What is NAD+?
NAD+ is coenzyme produced in your body. It is used as fuel for other molecules which help to keep your body ticking along. They play an important role in supporting metabolisms, repairing damage to cells and DNA and boosting your immune system. However, as you age, NAD+ levels naturally decline. As a result, all the functions it supports slow down leading to poorer immune systems and slower metabolisms which can lead to the onset of conditions such as obesity, heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative conditions.
The thinking behind NAD+ supplements is that if we can slow down the rate of NAD+ decline, we can keep the body working more effectively for longer. This can slow down the rate of biological aging and protect your body against all the nasty conditions which come with it.
Research gives some cause to believe that increased NAD+ levels can lead to longer lifespans and that supplements can increase levels. However, most of these studies are on mice or yeast. There is no conclusive proof that this will work with humans.
How longevity supplements work
The difficulty with supplementation is that simply putting NAD+ into the body does not work. Instead, these longevity supplements give the body building blocks – or NAD+ precursors – which your body transforms into NAD+. These come in many forms with the most popular being:
- Nicotinic Acid (NA): Also known as niacin, this is often used as an umbrella term to include all forms of forms of vitamin B3. It can be an effective precursor but has also been linked to side effects including flushing.
- Nicotinamide Riboside (NR): A form of vitamin B3 which is often seen as an efficient precursor in that it uses relatively little energy to create NAD+.
- Nicotinamide (Nam): Sometimes referred to as niacinamide, this form of vitamin B3 can also be produced when sirtuins consume NAD+. When this happens, they split into parts using up what they need and sending the rest of the NAM back to make more NAD+.
- Tryptophan (Trp): Often found in turkeys, it has been linked to the drowsiness effect you get after a big Christmas meal. Although it is a precursor to NAD+ it is significantly less effective than others.
- Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN): The new kid on the block. Knowledge is expanding about how it gets into cells and it is often directly compared against NR to see which is the most effective precursor.
What are the side effects of NAD+
Because it is found naturally in the body, there are relatively few side effects of NAD+, but this can vary depending on the type of NAD+ precursor. Some, such as niacin supplements, have been known to caused flushing. In much higher levels, it can have some serious side effects such as nausea, brain fog, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, gout and itching.
Human studies have shown that it is safe to use in dosages of 1,000 to 2,000 mg. However, more studies are ongoing to get a better idea of any particular side effects. Studies into animals have shown that dosages of 300mg per kg of bodyweight for 90 days have no significant side effects.
For the most part, then, these supplements are safe to use for most people and come with no known serious side effects.
How much NAD+ should I take?
The right dosage will depend on your current health condition and requirements as well as the type of precursor the supplement is using. It can be a good idea to consult a healthcare professional to develop the right treatment plan. Most supplements will come with a recommended dosage level of 250 to 300 mg per day which will normally equate to one or two tablets. However, dosages have been used of between 100mg and 1,200mg per day. For much larger dosages of up to 6,000mg, there have been some significant side effects.
Some supplements will contain just the precursor itself such as nicotinamide riboside although some manufacturers may also combine it with other ingredients such as anti-oxidants which may also have other effects.
Which supplement should you choose
The ideal dose level therefore, will depend greatly on the type of supplement you’re taking and the end result you’re looking for. In the end, though, this will be a personal choice. Supplements may have different effects on different people. Generally speaking, sticking to the recommended dose on the bottle will be safe and sufficient.