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The Powerhouse Molecule: Discovering NAD+ What Is It?

Mar 29, 2023
The Powerhouse Molecule: Discovering NAD+ What Is It?

Describing NAD+ as a powerhouse is not an overstatement. This small molecule is an antioxidant and electron carrier that is vital to every cell in your body. Low NAD+ levels are associated with chronic fatigue and age-related diseases.1

NAD+ and NADH work as a pair. NAD+ is an oxidizing agent that accepts electrons and, therefore, is called an electron carrier. When NAD+ accepts electrons and a negatively charged hydrogen ion, it becomes NADH. NADH is an electron donor. When thinking about NAD+ what is it?

NAD+ and NADH work together, accepting electrons from some chemical reactions and donating them in others. Each time electrons are passed between molecules, energy is generated. Your body uses this energy for everything, including building muscles, powering brain activity, seeing, hearing, smelling, and interpreting the world.

NAD+ What Is It?

After you eat, your food is broken down in the gastrointestinal tract and absorbed through the intestinal lining. It must be completely broken down into simple sugars, glycerides, fatty acids, and amino acids so the intestinal cells can transport them through the membrane and deliver them to your bloodstream.

Once in your bloodstream, these nutrients are processed by the liver and either stored or used by your cells for energy. However, your cells cannot use them in this form. The bonds between the individual carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen atoms are broken and release energy.

It is unsafe for your cells to break bonds and release electrons because these unpaired electrons will bind to body tissues and cause damage. Instead, your body uses NAD+ and NADH to donate and accept these electrons, thereby safely transferring the energy stored in food to adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

ATP is used to power every process in every cell in your body.

Because NAD+ is such an important molecule to your survival, NAD+ production is tightly regulated. It can be produced de novo from tryptophan or via the salvage pathway from precursors and is broken down by NAD+-consuming enzymes. The de novo, Preiss–Handler, and NAD+ salvage pathways catalyze the formation of NAD(H), continuously counteracting the loss of NAD(H) by NAD+-consuming enzymes.2

Aging, oxidative stress, and chronic disease can all increase NAD+ use, causing NAD+ depletion. Researchers are working to better understand these processes and how NAD+ supplementation could potentially slow the aging process or treat chronic diseases.

people running NAD+ What Is It

What Are The Benefits Of NAD+?

So far, research suggests that supplementing with NAD+ or NAD+ precursors could treat:1,3-5

  • Diabetes
  • Muscular weakness
  • Aging
  • Obesity
  • Heart failure
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Blood vessel disease
  • Age-related cognitive impairment                                
  • Eye disease
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Alcoholic liver disease
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

NAD+ is involved in over 500 chemical processes in your body. Restoring NAD levels may help with the following:

  • Improving mental clarity
  • Increasing alertness
  • Increasing concentration
  • Enhancing memory function
  • Improving athletic performance
  • Reducing fatigue
  • Improving sleep
  • Reducing skin damage
  • Supporting weight loss

What Happens When You Take NAD+?

NAD+ has poor bioavailability and is quickly broken down in the gastrointestinal tract. Your body overcomes this obstacle by providing several pathways that produce NAD+. As long as there is a balance between NAD+ production and NAD+ use, everything works well. Supplementing with NAD+ can potentially restore NAD+ levels, leading to more efficient metabolic support. There is also the risk that too much NAD+ may have an as-yet-unknown impact.  

Can NAD+ Be Harmful?

The effects of NAD+ supplements are not fully understood, but they seem well-tolerated with few side effects.

Side effects reported include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach ache
  • Indigestion
foods, weights and a tape measure

Does NAD+ Help With Weight Loss?

Research is still early, but it looks promising. Animal studies showed that supplementing with NAD precursors reduced body fat and improved insulin sensitivity.

NAD+ enhances energy metabolism primarily by activating NAD-dependent sirtuins. The currently accepted theory is that by replacing NAD+, especially during times of metabolic stress, your metabolism will function more efficiently. Most of the current research has used NAD+ precursors, not NAD+ injectables.6

“Remarkably, ageing is accompanied by a gradual decline in tissue and cellular NAD+ levels in multiple model organisms, including rodents and humans. This decline in NAD+ levels is linked causally to numerous ageing-associated diseases, including cognitive decline, cancer, metabolic disease, sarcopenia and frailty. Many of these ageing-associated diseases can be slowed down and even reversed by restoring NAD+ levels. Therefore, targeting NAD+ metabolism has emerged as a potential therapeutic approach to ameliorate ageing-related disease, and extend the human health span and lifespan. However, much remains to be learnt about how NAD+ influences human health and ageing biology.”

Covarrubias et al. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology 

Over 1,000 clinical trials are registered on ClinicalTrials.gov investigating the potential health benefits of NAD+ and NADH. New aspects of NAD+ metabolism have recently been discovered. NAD+ can potentially treat many diseases associated with aging and chronic fatigue, but the evidence is lacking until the clinical trials are complete.

The Powerhouse Molecule: Discovering NAD+ What Is It?


Having learned about the multifaceted role of NAD+ in the body and its potential in promoting health and longevity, it’s clear why this molecule has garnered significant interest. If you’re looking to incorporate NAD+ into your wellness routine, consider Invigor Medical as a reputable source to buy NAD+. They offer NAD+ products that might complement your health strategy, aiming to support your energy levels, metabolism, and overall well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

NAD+ what is it used for?

NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is a coenzyme found in all living cells and is essential for various biological processes, including energy metabolism, DNA repair, and cellular signaling. It plays a crucial role in converting nutrients into energy, maintaining cellular health, and regulating gene expression.

Do NAD+ supplements really work?

The effectiveness of NAD+ supplements can vary depending on factors such as dosage, formulation, and individual response. Some studies suggest that NAD+ supplementation may have potential benefits for cellular health, metabolism, and aging-related processes. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and optimal use.

Is NAD+ the same as vitamin B3?

NAD+ is derived from vitamin B3 (niacin) through a series of metabolic reactions in the body. While they are related, they are not exactly the same. NAD+ serves as a coenzyme involved in various cellular processes, while vitamin B3 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a role in energy metabolism and DNA repair.

How can I increase my NAD+ levels naturally?

There are several ways to naturally increase NAD+ levels in the body, including regular exercise, calorie restriction, intermittent fasting, and consuming foods rich in NAD+ precursors such as niacin-containing foods (like meat, fish, and dairy products) and tryptophan-containing foods (like turkey, chicken, and nuts). Additionally, some research suggests that certain lifestyle interventions and supplements, such as nicotinamide riboside (NR) and nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), may help boost NAD+ levels. However, more studies are needed to confirm their effectiveness and safety.

While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.

The Powerhouse Molecule: Discovering NAD+ What Is It?

Leann Poston, M.D.

Dr. Leann Poston is a licensed physician in the state of Ohio who holds an M.B.A. and an M. Ed. She is a full-time medical communications writer and educator who writes and researches for Invigor Medical. Dr. Poston lives in the Midwest with her family. She enjoys traveling and hiking. She is an avid technology aficionado and loves trying new things.


  • Johnson S, Imai SI. NAD (+) biosynthesis, aging, and disease. F1000Res. 2018;7:132. doi:10.12688/f1000research.12120.1
  • Zapata-Pérez R, Wanders RJA, van Karnebeek CDM, Houtkooper RH. NAD+ homeostasis in human health and disease. https://doi.org/10.15252/emmm.202113943
  • Hong W, Mo F, Zhang Z, Huang M, Wei X. Nicotinamide Mononucleotide: A Promising Molecule for Therapy of Diverse Diseases by Targeting NAD+ Metabolism. Review. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology. 2020-April-28 2020;8doi:10.3389/fcell.2020.00246
  • Poddar SK, Sifat AE, Haque S, Nahid NA, Chowdhury S, Mehedi I. Nicotinamide Mononucleotide: Exploration of Diverse Therapeutic Applications of a Potential Molecule. Biomolecules. 2019;9(1):34.
  • Mehmel M, Jovanović N, Spitz U. Nicotinamide Riboside-The Current State of Research and Therapeutic Uses. Nutrients. May 31 2020;12(6)doi:10.3390/nu12061616
  • Dall M, Hassing AS, Treebak JT. NAD+ and NAFLD – caution, causality and careful optimism. J Physiol. 2022 Mar;600(5):1135-1154. doi: 10.1113/JP280908. Epub 2021 May 27. PMID: 33932956.
  • Covarrubias, A.J., Perrone, R., Grozio, A. et al. NAD+ metabolism and its roles in cellular processes during ageing. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 22, 119–141 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41580-020-00313-x


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