NAD+ and Why It’s Important To Every Cell In Your Body

NAD+, or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, is vital to the creation of energy in the human body and for the management of important cellular processes, especially for our mitochondrias.

If you’re having flashbacks of high school biology class - don’t worry. Mitochondria simply converts food into oxygen and energy in our cells. 

In short, NAD+ it is a vital coenzyme found in every cell in the human body. Clinical trials performed on laboratory animals have shown that having healthy levels of NAD+ can lead to a number of health benefits, including memory improvement, resistance to weight gain, and even a longer life span.

To understand NAD+, we need to understand why our cells need it and how our body produces it.

What’s the deal with coenzymes?

Enzymes break down complex, large molecules into smaller, more simple molecules. This enables your body to form large metabolites.  Metabolites power our metabolism - hence the very similar name and why they are so important.

Enzymes need coenzymes to do their jobs. Coenzymes assist with chemical reactions. 

Why is NAD+ so important to every cell in the body?

As we said before, NAD+ is a coenzyme that naturally occurs in the body. It is crucial to healthy cellular function because it is required for hundreds of metabolic processes. 

The highest concentrations of NAD+ are found in the heart, kidney and the liver. (Source: Frontiers in Physiology). In fact, 

NAD+ has a number of important jobs in the human body, including converting nutrients into energy for the metabolism and helping protein molecules that regulate other important cellular functions.

  • NAD+ is needed to maintain cellular and metabolic energy - this helps regulate a number of things including energy levels and weight gain.

  • NAD+ helps create adenosine triphosphate, otherwise known as ATP. Metaphorically speaking, ATP is like a powerful cup of coffee for your cells. It keeps your cells energized and humming along like an automobile engine.

  • NAD+ activates sirtuins, which are proteins that supervise the health of your cells. Sirtuins are like Mary Poppins-style guardians that make sure your cells are doing all their chores and behaving properly. Sirtuins need ample supplies of NAD+ to do this.

  • Disruption in NAD+ levels is connected with a number of diseases, including heart disease. (Source: Hershberger et al., 2017; Matasic et al., 2018; Rajman et al., 2018; Katsyuba et al., 2020; Ralto et al., 2020)

  • Because it is a required component for healthy cellular function, NAD+ can help extend both health span and life span.

  • NAD+ is so important that the United States and other international governments require companies to fortify our food with niacin, a precursor to NAD+. This was done to curtail a virus called pellagra that was rampant in the 1900s. Scientists realized this disease was largely caused by nutritional deficiencies or essential coenzymes like NAD+. (Source: Elysium)

  • The National Institute of Health even called NAD+ the “guardians of the genome”. Not to be confused with “Guardians of the Galaxy” (great movie).

NAD+ sounds great. Why should I consider taking a supplement for it?

When you are young and healthy, you effortlessly create abundant levels of NAD+. 

However, as with many aspects of our health, NAD+ levels decline as we age.

The good news is that we can stimulate the production of NAD+ in our body by taking supplements like ICARIA NMN that contain NAD+ precursors.

Precursors are molecules that act as shapeshifters - similar to werewolves but much less scary. 

Precursors begin in one chemical form, but transform into another chemical form once they enter the human body and undergo various natural processes. This is why the US government required that food be fortified with niacin, because they understood that this would eventually be transformed into NAD+.

Clinical trials are being done on NAD+ by a number of scientists and doctors around the world. A study published in the 2017 edition of Nature Partner Journals: Aging and Mechanisms of Disease found that NAD+ levels can be increased by 40% when taken in the recommended dosages. 

In these studies, a form of vitamin B3 called nicotinamide riboside (NR), and pterostilbene, a compound used within your cells, were used as the precursors for NAD+. This study is considered the “gold standard” of scientific research, because it was double-blind, placebo-controlled, and randomized.

Is it safe to take NAD+ supplements?

This question is one of the most important things to consider before taking any supplement.

There has been a lot of press and controversy around NAD+ as people begin to better understand the important role it plays in our bodies. More and more vitamin and supplement companies are including precursors in their products to help people stimulate NAD+ levels.

However, the 2017 study referenced above provides an example of “safely and sustainably” increasing NAD+ levels.  This means that no toxicology side effects were reported in the study, and people maintained their elevated NAD+ levels for at least 60 days. 

It is important to know what precursors are being used to stimulate NAD+, as not all are considered equal or safe. To date, nicotinamide riboside, and nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) are precursors determined to be safe through gold standard clinical trials. 


ICARIA NMN Healthy Aging supplement is at the forefront of longevity science.

The supplement is composed of nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), pterostilbene, resveratrol, collagen, and hyaluronic acid. 

Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) is a more efficient NAD+ precursor because:

  1.  NMN is one step further down the pathway to produce NAD+. The pathway that leads to the synthesis of NAD+ is as follows: NR is converted into NMN, and then NMN is used to build NAD+, or (formula time): NR → NMN → NAD+ = DNA repair and cellular health optimization. NR requires an extra step to create NMN, which then is built into NAD+. 

  2. NMN seems to demonstrate better results. Recent studies comparing NMN to NR, demonstrated that NMN enables stronger effects than NR. The studies done with NMN just seem much better. A great example, 5-month old mice that received NMN for over 12 months, showed improved mitochondrial and metabolic functioning, better insulin sensitivity and lipid metabolism, better vision, increased bone density, better weight, and a stronger immune system. Another example, old mice that received NMN for 8 weeks improved vascular health considerably by demonstrating decreased artery stiffness and less arterial oxidative stress.

  3. Dr. David Sinclair from Harvard University, arguably one of the leading experts in the world regarding longevity and lifespan, discusses in this interview some reasons why NMN could be better than NR.

  4. NMN has been shown to increase endurance and exercise capacity, up to 80 percent, something that NR was not able to achieve. To the contrary, one study showed that NR actually reduced physical performance by 35%.

  5. Even NASA and the U.S. military prefer the use of NMN over NR. NASA is exploring the possibility of NMN to prevent muscle atrophy in astronauts, and whether NMN can protect the astronaut’s DNA against cosmic radiation. This may even be beneficial for a planned mission to Mars, protecting astronauts from muscle atrophy during zero-gravity conditions and being exposed to DNA-damaging cosmic radiation while enroute to Mars.

  6. To conclude, The United States Special Forces are working on an “anti-aging pill” for their soldiers to improve their performance.  The pill they are currently working on is based on NMN, not NR. 

NMN was determined safe and sustainable in the 2019 clinical trial Effect of oral administration of nicotinamide mononucleotide on clinical parameters and nicotinamide metabolite levels in healthy Japanese men. That’s a mouthful - but it is very important to know what rigorous clinical research has been conducted on any supplement before you make the decision to take it.

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