Medical Moment with Dr. Jenna Silakoski
NAD+: The helper molecule extraordinaire
With its growing popularity in recent years, you may have heard of the supplement called NAD. Maybe you have a friend who’s tried it. Or maybe you’ve read one of many articles speculating on its potential as a fountain of youth.
As a primary care and family medicine physician for the last 11 years, I’d like to take a moment and explain why I include NAD within the scope of services offered at North Idaho MedSpa (formerly The Lounge).
What is NAD?
NAD stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide and it is a type of coenzyme naturally found in basically all living things. Coenzymes are essential in the body to allow other enzymes to work. NAD, in particular, has been found to be involved in energy metabolism, DNA repair, and immune cell function, amongst many other processes. You will often see NAD referenced as NAD+, which is the oxidized form of the coenzyme. Several forms of the vitamin B3 are known precursors to NAD. While NAD is still considered an experimental treatment and does not have FDA approval, it has been used extensively for decades within naturopathy and integrative/functional medicine. Research on this molecule is both prolific and ongoing, with over 10,000 studies published in the last
year alone per the National Library of Medicine (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc).
What are the benefits of NAD?
Studies have linked the use of NAD supplements with a variety of potential benefits such as:
● Improved cognitive function, including positive impacts on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
● Protection against certain cardiovascular conditions, vision loss, and signs of skin aging
● Improved regulation of circadian rhythms, metabolism, inflammation, and stress
● Enhanced athletic performance
Additionally, studies have linked lower NAD levels with chronic fatigue syndrome, inflammatory disorders, and metabolic disorders.
Options for boosting NAD levels
There are generally 3 ways to boost NAD levels: diet & exercise, oral supplements, and intravenous (IV) therapy. Studies have shown that calorie restriction of 20-30%, intermittent fasting, foods high in protein and vitamin B, and regular exercise can all have beneficial effects on NAD levels. Oral supplements are generally not NAD itself, but one of its precursors (most often an alternative form of B3: nicotinamide riboside) and have variable dosing/strength, as well bioavailability after absorption. While improved diet, exercise, and oral supplements can have a positive effect, I have seen the most rapid and efficacious improvements with my patients by using NAD via IV therapy.
Side effects of NAD oral supplementation and IV therapy are generally mild and can include fatigue, headaches, and gastrointestinal discomfort. As with any supplementation, even over-the-counter, there can be risks involved for certain conditions. It is important to consult with a trusted medical professional before starting anything new.