3 Doctor-Approved Ways To Boost Your NAD Levels For Healthy Aging
According to Alyssa Dweck, M.D., enhancing women's quality of life as they age makes up a significant portion of her practice. Although she works with women in all stages of life—she lectures at various Westchester public schools in her spare time and educates students about important gynecological issues—she places emphasis on the relationship between the aging process and gynecological health at a cellular level.
What most people might not know is that aging happens at the cellular level due in part to a lack of something called NAD in the body. NAD, at its core, is a substance that every cell in our body uses to turn food into energy, and it decreases as we age. It also decreases due to many other life stressors—being postpartum, excessive alcohol, overeating, and getting too much sun exposure, to name a few. That said, it's in every woman's best interest (no matter her age) to become well-versed in all things NAD and start taking the necessary steps to maintain levels of this coenzyme.
After chatting with Dweck, I learned that there are actually a variety of ways we can maintain NAD as we age: In addition to taking steps to combat stress, wearing sunscreen, eating well, and leading an overall healthy lifestyle, one of the most efficient ways to boost NAD is to start popping a vitamin B3 supplement on the regular. But, it turns out, not all B3 is created equal.
Here, Dweck helps us understand which forms of vitamin B3 are the most effective for boosting NAD levels, thus slowing the aging process:
Also known as nicotinic acid, this form of vitamin B3 is readily available from food. As a supplement, it's frequently used to treat high cholesterol and heart disease. Although it's a form of vitamin B3 that can increase levels of NAD in cells, Dweck explains that this effect comes with an unpleasant side effect.
"It comes with some baggage," she says. "It causes a lot of flushing for people who take it, and that's pretty uncomfortable."
Meaning, your skin could become blotchy or inflamed when consuming the higher doses necessary to boost NAD, as if you just finished a killer hot yoga session or HIIT workout. So, if you're not partial to flushed face, it's probably best to pass on niacin as your No. 1 NAD-boosting supplement.
2. Nicotinamide (NAM)
Nicotinamide (NAM), another form of vitamin B3, also increases NAD levels in cells and doesn't cause skin flushing like niacin. This supplement has been shown to protect liver function and glucose metabolism, but again, according to Dweck, it carries some unwanted baggage. NAM supplements interfere with a class of proteins in our bodies called sirtuins, which regulate biological pathways, turn certain genes on and off, and help protect cells from age-related decline.
"Sirtuins contribute to longevity and anti-aging, so we really don't want to inhibit them," Dweck says.
So, while NAM might not have any acute side effects like flushing, its interference with sirtuins would essentially negate any benefits that would arise from increased NAD levels.
3. Nicotinamide Riboside (NR)
The final form of vitamin B3 that can help increase NAD levels in our bodies is nicotinamide riboside (NR). NR is rather new in the supplement sphere, and according to Dweck, it doesn't cause flushing, and no harmful side effects have been reported to date. In fact, it actually promotes the activity of certain sirtuins (like SIRT 1 and SIRT 6) associated with longevity and aging. Consider this strain of vitamin B3 the one that's just right—the Goldilocks of NAD-boosting supplements, if you will.
Dweck goes as far as to say that this supplement is essential for the health of our cells. "The bottom line is, this supplement works on a cellular level," she notes. "It supports a healthy cellular metabolism and helps to promote cellular repair."
No surprise, Dweck frequently recommends this supplement to her patients (no need for a prescription, as this vitamin is sold over the counter), and those patients report back with glowing reviews, including significantly more energy. But, of course, I had to ask: Does she take it herself? "I sure do," the OB/GYN quips.
Consider us really, really intrigued.
For more tips on how to boost longevity and stay as healthy as possible as you age, check out this week’s podcast.
Colleen Wachob is Co-Founder and Co-CEO at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Stanford University with degrees in international relations and Spanish, and spent 10 years working at Fortune 500 companies including Gap, Walmart, and Amazon. Wachob lives in Miami, Florida with her husband, mbg Founder and Co-CEO Jason Wachob and their two daughters, Ellie and Grace.