RAISING NAD LEVELS IN THE BODY – Can supplements help?

by Nils Osmar. This article should not be construed as offering either formal or informal medical advice. The content is intended solely for informational purposes. Any changes in your lifestyle or diet should be done in consultation with your doctor or health care professional. Last updated: 2/9/2019


As we age, NAD levels decrease in the body. Higher levels of NAD are associated with better health. So supplements claiming to increase NAD levels are becoming a big business.

Two popular supplements, resveratrol and pterostilbene, have both been shown to increase NAD.

So has vitamin B3, which is currently available in several forms, including niacin, niacinamide, NMN, and a relatively new form, nicotinamide riboside.

Side note: niacinamide is also called nicotinamide. Nicotinamide riboside is also referred to as NR and niagen. By whatever name, all of them are forms of vitamin B3. And ALL of them have been shown to increase levels of NAD in the body.

Niagen’s promoters advertise it as the best way to increase NAD levels, because unlike niacin, it does not cause flushing. But (1) it actually does cause flushing sometimes — and (2) the flushing is not really harmful. It’s just mildly uncomfortable. Some folks actually like it because it indicates that niacin is dilating and “cleaning out” their blood vessels. Those who don’t like the flushing and want a low cost alternative to niacin are free to take niacinamide, which costs just pennies per capsule. Both niacin and niacinamide are about five times cheaper than NR. And both have been shown many times, in many studies, to raise NAD levels.

Of the three, only niacin has been shown to not only raise NAD, but to lower LDL cholesterol, raise HDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides and improve the HDL/triglycerides balance. So niacin, not NR, would appear to have the most benefit of any of the readily available forms of B3.

Niagen/NR’s proponents often point out that NR increases insulin sensitivity while niacin and niacinamide decrease it. This made Niagen/NR appealing to me because my blood glucose tends to run a little high. But in my own case, I found that taking niacin along with niacin-bound chromium (a blood sugar regulator) actually improved my insulin sensitivity. My blood glucose dropped significantly, going from prediabetic into normal range, when I took niacin along with chromium. And since niacin is so cheap, I can afford to take much more of it than I can niagen. 

Currently I’m taking niacin; chromium; and pterostilbene together. 

MY EXPERIENCES TAKING NIAGEN

I started taking Niagen (NR) a few months ago, hoping it would raise my NAD levels. But the first time I took it, I felt a little sick, woozy and lightheaded.

The next time, I even worse: sick, woody, dizzy and lightheaded.  I assumed this was because Niagen (reportedly) decreases blood pressure, and mine is already a little low. 

The longer I took it, the worse I felt. Not just dizziness –– I felt down, depressed, low energy, and deeply fatigued. After two weeks of taking it, I almost couldn’t get out of bed during the day to get things done. I needed four or five naps a day. I didn’t realize at the time that the NR/niagen was causing this. When I stopped taking it, I felt better within a few hours.

I learned later that the reason may have been because NR depletes methyl groups. When I stopped taking it and started taking TMG (trimethyl glycine), I felt better almost immediately. Based on those experiences, I decided that when taking any form of B3 in the future, I would take some TMG along with it.

In summary:

  • Niagen increases NAD+, but is very pricey.
  • Niacin increases NAD+, and is cheap, but can cause insulin resistance.
  • Niacinamide (also known as nicotinamide) also increases NAD+, and is cheap, but also causes insulin resistance.
  • Taking NBC (niacin-bound chromium) along with either niacin or niacinamide might possibly be a way to prevent the insulin resistance problem. (I don’t know of studies showing this to be true, but in my case, my insulin sensitivity improved after taking them together.)
  • Taking TMG along with B3 may be an effective way to replenish your methyl groups, which B3 in all of its forms reportedly diminish.

REMINDER: This article should not be construed as offering either formal or informal medical advice. The content is intended solely for informational purposes. Any changes in your lifestyle or diet should be done in consultation with your doctor or health care professional


Here’s a video about NAD: