Which foods have the naturally highest quantity of NAD+?

NAD+ supplements are increasingly popular, but it is possible to up your levels of NAD+ with natural sources?

The NAD+ longevity supplement market is booming with all sorts of products including patches, tablets or capsules popping up on the market. Each promise to boost NAD+ levels and help you live a longer and healthier life. Many people swear by them and they have been shown to increase NAD+ levels in the body. However, they are not the only source of NAD+. You can get it through exercise and also in the way you eat.
To understand how, it’s important to know how these supplements work. Rather than putting NAD+ directly into your body they give it the tools to make it. Molecules known as NAD+ precursors are transformed by your body into NAD+ which can then do all the good work it does.
The most common precursors are:

  • Niacin: Niacin (NR) is crucial for the production of NAD+. The most common source of vitamin B3 in foods is nicotinic acid. Scientists first cottoned onto its use when trying to combat outbreaks of a disease called Pellagra which occurred in people on low incomes in Europe and the US who subsisted on a primarily corn diet. The illness was triggered by a niacin deficiency and putting people onto a diet of milk and meat was found to cure the condition.
  • Nicotinamide (NAM): Another common source is Nicotinamide (NAM) which is popular due to its few side effects. You’ll often find it in supplements and in fortified foods. It has one advantage over other precursors because, when sirtuins break down NAD+, it sends NAM back to create more.
  • Nicotinamide riboside (NR): NR is often thought as being one of the most efficient precursors because it uses the least amount of energy to become NAD+ when taken orally. It’s a form of niacin which can be found in trace amount of milk and other foods.
  • Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN): New supplements are increasingly turning to NMN with many experts believing it can be even more effective than NR. It acts as a direct precursor which means anything else has to become NMN before it becomes NAD+. Recent research shows it can enter intact which is why some have suggested it could be a more effective producer of NAD+.
  • Tryptophan (Trp): Although it does yield NAD+ it is much less effective than NAM and NR. It is found in turkeys and has been linked as a cause of the post-Christmas dinner slump. It is an amino acid and a building block which transforms into NAD+ through a laborious seven stage process.

Each of these are naturally occurring and can be found in many of the foods we eat. By regulating our diet, therefore, it will be possible naturally increase NAD+ levels without having to choose between supplements.
Here are a few foods to try:

  • Turkey: Good news, your Christmas dinner can be a good source of niacin and tryptophan. However, the latter produces serotonin and melatonin and is the reason why people sometimes feel sleepy after their main meal. If you’re hoping for something which will perk you up and make you feel more invigorated, you could be disappointed.
  • Wholegrains: The likes of brown rice and whole wheat are key components of a healthy diet in any case, but an added benefit is the niacin which can be found in the outer shell. This is the part which is stripped away in the manufacturing process to make white rice or flour, which is why you need the wholegrain option to get the full benefit.
  • Fish: A bit of fish in your diet is routinely touted as a solution to just about all life’s ills so why should this be any different? As well as goodies such as vitamin B12 and omega 3, tuna, salmon and anchovies are packed with niacin with a single serving giving you more than enough of your daily allowance.
  • Milk: Switching to a diet containing milk was on of the things which sent Pellagra packing back in the early 20th century. It is one of the few naturally occurring food sources which are high in NAD+ and contains nicotinamide riboside, one of the major sources of NAD+.
  • Meat: Beef and pork can be great sources of NAD+ precursors. Beef is one of the richest sources of niacin. A single serving providing almost double your daily allowance. Pork is a little further behind. A six ounce serving will sort you out with 90% of your day to day needs. However, much depends on the type of meat you consume. Lean cuts and grass-fed beef will be much more productive than many others.
  • Green vegetables: Many green vegetables, especially asparagus and peas can naturally increase NAD+ in your bodies.
  • Mushrooms: NAD+ can also be found in many mushrooms especially cremini mushrooms.

All these foods can be incorporated as part of a regular healthy diet. They will allow you to boost your NAD+ levels without having to shell out on extra supplementation. However, choosing supplements for additional NAD levels may also be useful.

Photograph: Nerfee Mirandilla/pexels