Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) is an important cofactor, or "assistant," that helps enzymes in the work they do throughout the body. NADH particularly plays a role in the production of energy. It also helps with the production of L-dopa, which the body turns into the important neurotransmitter dopamine.
Based on these basic biochemical facts, NADH has been evaluated as a treatment for jet lag, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, and as a sports supplement. However, only a few have meaningful scientific evidence behind it, and even that is highly preliminary.
Healthy bodies make all the NADH they need. The body uses vitamin B3 (also known as niacin or nicotinamide) as a starting point. NADH can also be found in meat. However, most of the NADH in meat is destroyed during processing, cooking, and digestion. In reality, we don't get much NADH from our food.
The typical dosage for supplemental NADH ranges from 5 to 50 mg daily. It is often taken sublingually (under the tongue). Products said to be "stabilized" are available.
NADH supplements have been shown to increase NAD in the blood.13,14 However, this does not mean it will result in other changes.
NADH is thought to help when you are tired by boosting the thought process. Two small double-blind, placebo-controlled trials found that people had better thought process scores after inadequate sleep or jet lag when they took NADH compared to placebo.1,2 The trials were small which decreases reliability. The study on poor sleep was also done by a manufacturer of NADH supplements.
It is hoped that NADH may have some benefits for conditions of the nervous system. So far, trials have had mixed reviews. There is not enough information to say if NADH is effective for:
The overall results look promising, but further research is needed to determine if NADH is effective as a treatment approach.
NADH appears to be quite safe when taken at a dosage of 5 mg daily or less. However, formal safety studies have not been completed, and safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
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13. Airhart S, Shireman LM, Risler LJ, et al. An open-label, non-randomized study of the pharmacokinetics of the nutritional supplement nicotinamide riboside (NR) and its effects on blood NAD+ levels in healthy volunteers. PLoS One. 2017 Dec 6;12(12).
14. Dellinger RW, Santos SR, Morris M, et al. Repeat dose NRPT (nicotinamide riboside and pterostilbene) increases NAD+ levels in humans safely and sustainably: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. NPJ Aging Mech Dis. 2017 Nov 24;3:17.
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Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO CAM Review Board Last Updated: 9/4/2018