Update 7/27/19. NAD, an obscure molecule which, in the past, only science nerds have heard of, has quickly become the most popular anti-aging substance around. Various studies have noted raising the NAD levels in your cells -using a niacin-derived compound called nicotinamide riboside (NR) might help reduce the risk of disease. You've probably heard of NAD booster supplements such as Elysium Basis (by Elysium) and Niagen (by Chromaxex). Both of these contain the NR substance. But, these supplements are expensive. What if you want to boost your NAD levels, and not pay a lot? Can you? Yes! Here are 10 ways to raise the NAD levels in your cells which do not cost an arm and a leg.
Other NAD Reviews
Next, let's talk about NAD and NR (nicotinamide riboside) because this is important to know about. After that, we'll cover how to raise your cellular NAD levels.
What Is NAD?
The science is complicated so let's just cut to the chase. NAD stands for Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide. You pronounce it this way: say “Nick-oh-tin-ah-mide Ad-a-neen Di-new-cleo-tide”
All of your cells contain NAD. What does it do? It helps you make energy.
There is a LOT of NAD is found in our mitochondria – those cellular powerhouses you probably learned about in HS biology.
We make less NAD as we get older. This leads to less healthy mitochondria, aging, and disease. It turns out NAD helps turn on anti-aging enzymes called sirtuins. This is where it gets its anti-aging reputation.
What Does This Mean?
The idea goes like this: more NAD = more sirtuin enzymes = more energy, more mitochondria, less disease, and slower aging.
So how do you get more NAD? Well, for some people, it takes a supplement. The most popular supplements are called:
Both of these supplements contain a substance called nicotinamide riboside (NR). What's that?
I'm glad ya asked…
Here's a video if you just want to listen to me
What Is Nicotinamide Riboside – And Do You Need It?
Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is a substance that comes from niacin (vitamin B3). NR supplements raise NAD levels in your cells.
In case you wondered you pronounce the word this way: “Nick-oh-tin-ah-mide Rye-bow-side.”
Undoubted, you have read other websites which tell about how NR can:
- improve the health of your mitochondria
- slow aging
- help you sleep better
- reduce the risk of a bunch of diseases
Some people say they can feel the results in 30 days (see review).
What those other websites are NOT telling you is the proof for NR is preliminary. It's mostly based on rat, mouse and test tube research. As for humans, I can say taking NR supplements will raise NR levels in your cells.
There is no human proof -yet- showing NR supplements :
- boost energy levels
- reverse the aging process
- lengthen the healthspan
- help your gym workouts
- reduce your risk of any disease
There may come a time when this changes, but for now, I remain skeptical.
These supplements can be expensive. I can't justify the price of these supplements until I see better proof. But this doesn't mean you can't raise your levels – and save money doing it.
Here are 11 low cost and effective ways of raising your NAD levels.
1 Drink Milk
Did you know nicotinamide riboside (NR) – the key ingredient in NAD supplements -was first discovered in milk. Yes! Regular cows milk has this stuff. Granted there is a lot less NR in cows milk compared to NAD booster supplements, but it is there. It's likely some NR is found in yogurt and other dairy products too derived from milk.
Even better, research shows regular milk (non-organic) has more NR than organic milk does. Yes, even lactose-free milk has some NR. There is no NR in almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk or other non-cow dairy products.
Nicotinamide riboside is also found in beer. Like milk, there is probably not a lot of NR in beer. Let me be clear, I'm including this in the spirit of honesty, but I don't suggest you rationalize drinking to get NR. It's highly likely any benefits provided by NR would be nullified by the toxic effects of alcohol.
So I suggest you don't use this tactic. Fortunately, there are many healthier ways to raise the NAD levels in your cells.
3 Take Niacin
NAD supplements like Niagen and Elysium Basis often grab all the attention, but what most don't know is regular niacin supplements (Vitamin B3) also boost NAD levels. They also activate the sirtuin enzymes too.
Niacin supplements have been shown to reduce oxidative stress (free radical damage) in both mice and isolated cells.
Even though I am saying niacin, I'm really referring to niacinamide. Both niacin and niacinamide are called “niacin” but niacinamide is less risky. Too much niacin can harm your liver for example.
Niacinamide is less likely to cause liver problems and skin flushing especially if you don't take too much.
You may be wondering how niacinamide stacks up against NAD booster supplements like Niagen? Good question. I can't say because nobody appears to have done this kind of research. My guess is niacinamide and NR supplements would raise NAD levels similar to each other.
To know for sure, we'd need research.
4 Eat Niacin-Rich Foods
If you don't want to take a supplement, just eat the foods which have niacin. What foods have niacin? Foods with some of the highest levels include:
- Tuna: 25 mg (per 4 oz)
- Chicken: 15 mg (per 4 oz)
- Turkey: 13 mg (per 4 oz)
- Salmon: 9 mg (per 4 oz)
Lesser amounts can also be found in:
And other foods too such as fortified cereals.
The trick is to eat foods like these each day. This supplies your body with NAD boosting niacin on a regular basis. Sure you get less niacin than if you took a supplement, but eating the foods often costs less and they give you more than just niacin. You get a full spectrum of nutrients.
5 Take B Vitamins
Niacin is not the only B vitamin involved with NAD formation. For example:
- vitamin B1 (thiamin)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B6 (Pyridoxine )
all help us recycle NAD. I bring this up because I believe there is too much emphasis being on niacin/NR alone. Biology is more complicated than any single nutrient. The B vitamins all work in synergy with each other to accomplish healthy things. These vitamins also help tryptophan make NAD too (see below).
You can take a B complex supplement or eat foods that contain B vitamins. What foods are they? Basically, fruits, veggies, seeds, beans, meats and poultry.
For example, these foods contain B vitamins:
|sweet potatoes||Nuts||pumpkin seeds|
6 Take A Walk/Lift Some Weights
The mitochondria in your muscle cells are where most of the NAD is found. This tells us, it's important for muscle health. Animal studies tell us regular physical exercise can boost NAD levels. How? It looks like exercise promotes the increase of the enzyme which makes NAD – NAMPT.
As we get older, the NAMPT enzyme decreases. Research – involving different kinds of animals – has demonstrated physical activity can increase NAMPT. This in turn, increases cellular NAD levels.
At least one human study has shown exercise (leg extension exercise) increased NAMPT by 16%. Both aerobic and resistance training are effective at boosting NAD levels.
Exercise is well known to stimulate mitochondria creation. Since most NAD is found in our mitochondria, it makes sense exercise would boost levels of this substance too.
7 Eat Some Tryptophan
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. While it's mostly known for helping us make the sleep-inducing compound serotonin, tryptophan metabolism also helps us make NAD via the kynurenine pathway.
So you can augment your production by taking a tryptophan supplement or by eating foods that contain this amino acid.
Tryptophan containing foods include:
|Pumpkin seeds||cottage cheese||Chocolate|
8 Take Some Vitamin D
Every cell of your body has receptors for vitamin D. This is proof of its importance in maintaining health. Preliminary evidence has noted vitamin D raises NAD levels in fat cells. You make vitamin D when your exposure to sunlight. You can also take vitamin D supplements too.
As a rule, get your levels checked before taking vitamin D supplements. This is to see if you are low.
9 Get Some Resveratrol
Resveratrol supplements can raise NAD levels in mitochondria. Since resveratrol is found in blueberries, grapes, and wine. This means these too can also raise your levels.
Some supplements contain a molecule called pterostilbene (tero-still-bean), a nutrient found in blueberries and grapes. Pterostilbene is said to be more potent /bio-available than resveratrol. Pterostilbene is pretty new and we need more research to know if it's better than resveratrol at raising NAD levels.
Pterostilbene may have side effects too.
My advice: add some grapes to your smoothies and get your resveratrol that way.
10 Reduce Calories
Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular weight loss programs today. While there are many methods to do this, the easy way is to just stop eating after 7 pm. This way, most of your “fasting” is done while you are asleep. Studies of isolated cells tell us reducing calories can increase NAD levels.
What about people?
When researchers looked at pregnant women who fasted during Ramadan, they noted the enzyme which makes NAD (NAMPT, also called visfatin) increased. While fasting remains popular, don't overdo it. Human studies are still ongoing. I would not suggest fasting for more than 12 hours.
11 Take Leucine Supplements
Leucine is one of the branch chain amino acids (BCAA). We've known for a long time leucine plays a role in muscle growth. Early research involving lab animals tells us leucine can also activate sirtuin enzymes and boost NAD production too.
Tip: If you use protein powders, the odds are it already contains leucine.
Side Effects Of NR Supplements
In my opinion, nicotinamide riboside supplements have not yet been tested enough in people to know what side effects they might have. While it's basically a just vitamin-derived compound, that doesn't necessary mean long-term use is safe.
While NR supplemented have been granted GRAS status (generally recognized as safe), by the FDA. because most of the research involves mice, I'd like to see more people research. I say this not to be controversial but because I just don't know.
On the plus side, nobody is reporting anything bad when they take NR supplements. I also didn't notice any side effects when I tried Niagen for 30 days.
I really liked this Youtube Video by Lifespan and Longevity. She goes into science and brings up some good points worth listening to:
So, Do You NAD Supplements?
While NAD is a critical molecule, I believe the life extension and healthspan science of raising levels by taking expensive supplements is in its infancy. But, in case I'm wrong, you have it within your power right now to raise your NAD levels, for less money using some of the biohacks I showed above.