Nutrition

Ranking the best NAD+ supplements of 2020

NAD+ supplements provide your body with precursors to produce nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD. It’s often encountered as a positively-charged ion, so you’ll also frequently see NAD referred to as NAD+.

This molecule plays a pivotal role in your body’s ability to produce energy and accelerate cellular metabolism, and declining levels of NAD+ are thought to play a role in aging.

NAD+ supplements are hugely popular among people trying to extend their lifespan and improve their quality of life as they age. If you want to be able to sustain high energy levels as you get older, check out our NAD+ supplement rankings

Rankings

1. Elysium Basis

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Elysium Basis is a hyper-minimal and incredibly effective NAD+ supplement. It’s only got two ingredients: nicotinamide riboside and pterostilbene. Pterostilbene is a powerful antioxidant, and nicotinamide riboside is the top-performing NAD+ booster out there, with proven scientific literature demonstrating its ability to rapidly increase NAD+ levels in your body.

At 125 mg of nicotinamide riboside per capsule, its dosage is plenty high enough to quickly and effectively elevate NAD+ levels. Because of its efficacy and its clean supplement design, Elysium Basis is our number one pick.

2. TRU Niagen

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TRU Niagen delivers a high dose of pure nicotinamide riboside, at 300 mg per vegetarian capsule. If you are laser focused on boosting your NAD+ levels quickly, TRU Niagen is a great choice.

Other than the cellulose that makes up the capsule, nicotinamide riboside is the only ingredient in this NAD supplement, making it a great choice for those who want an NAD+ booster and nothing else. 

3. Thorne ResveraCel

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If you want to combine the anti-aging effects of NAD+ and resveratrol, Thorne ResveraCel is a great option to consider. With a solid dose of resveratrol, plus 150 mg of nicotinamide riboside and quercetin, it’s a robust all-around anti-aging supplement that doesn’t keep its eye off its main objective, which is boosting cellular function via NAD+.

The dose of nicotinamide riboside and particularly resveratrol aren’t the highest on the market, so if you want maximum efficacy, you might want to opt for a different supplement.

4. Quicksilver Scientific NAD+ Gold

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Quicksilver Scientific offers one of the best sublingual delivery NAD+ supplements on the market. While capsule-based NAD+ supplements are more effective at boosting NAD+ levels thanks to their ability to deliver higher doses of more powerful NAD+ precursors, sublingual sprays fill an important niche. For older adults who already take a lot of pills, or who can’t reliably swallow pills, a sublingual spray can be much easier to use or to administer by a caregiver. Quicksilver

Scientific NAD+ Gold uses NMN, or nicotinamide mononucleotide, to boost NAD+. This compound has demonstrated better performance than nicotinamide when it comes to sustaining high NAD+ levels, at least in animal studies, so it’s a good choice for a sublingual spray. 

5. HPN Nutraceuticals NAD3 Fountain of Youth

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NAD3 Fountain of Youth by HPN Nutraceuticals takes a multi-ingredient approach, combining niacin and copper in the ionic compound copper nicotinic acid.

Taking a cue from research showing a higher prevalence of copper deficiency in older adults, all of the NAD+ precursors in this supplement are bound up with copper. NAD3 als includes theacrine, which is a known anti-inflammatory compound, and extract from the wasabi plant.

It’s a good bet if you want to stave off copper deficiency as well as increase NAD+ levels, but nicontinic acid isn’t the top-performing NAD+ booster on the market.

6. aSquared Nutrition Nicotinamide

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Nicotinamide is a simple and inexpensive compound related to vitamin B3 that’s a mainstay in many middle of the pack NAD+ supplements, which is fairly representative of where aSquared Nutrition Nicotinamide sits.

It has the added benefit of providing 100 mg of resveratrol, which is a little on the low end of what’s recommended but is likely still adequate to get some antioxidant effects. 

7. Toniiq NMN

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Toniiq makes one of the best NAD+ supplements that uses nicotinamide mononucleotide as its NAD+ precursor. These ultra-simple capsules provide 150 mg of nicotinamide mononucleotide each, with a few binders and stabilizers as well.

If you know you want nicotinamide mononucleotide it’s a solid choice, but right now the most recent research is indicating that other precursors like nicotinamide riboside might be a better way to go.

8. Life Extension NAD+ Cell Regenerator

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Life Extension is a pretty reliable source of anti-aging supplements, and that reputation lives up with their NAD+ Cell Regenerator. Each capsule provides 100 mg of nicotinamide riboside, the most effective precursor for NAD+.

The two primary downsides of this supplement, which prevented it from ending up higher in our rankings, are the fact that the capsules include several binders and stabilizers, and the fact that each bottle only includes 30 capsules—if you take this supplement on a regular basis, you’ll be going through bottles pretty quickly. 

9. Genex Formulas NMN

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Genex Formulas is a nicotinamide mononucleotide-based formula, which provides 125 mg of this vitamin B3 derivative in each capsule. Genex Formulas claims that nicotinamide performs best when paired with resveratrol, but puzzlingly, does not actually include any in the supplement.

There are also a few binders and stabilizers included in the capsule. Both of these reasons knock Genex Formulas NMN down in the rankings. 

10. Biom Pharmaceuticals Sublingual NAD+

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Biom Pharmaceuticals is one of the few companies to provide actual NAD+ in their supplement. Capsule-based supplements can’t do this because NAD+ isn’t bioavailable in the stomach, but Biom Pharmaceuticals is banking on sublingual absorption of NAD+ into your bloodstream.

It’s an interesting idea, but most of the scientific research right now indicates that the most effective way to boost NAD+ is with precursors, not NAD+ itself. Nevertheless, it might be worth a shot if you need a sublingual spray, and sublingual NAD+ precursors don’t seem to be achieving the results you want. 

Who should buy NAD?

NAD+ supplements are best-suited for older adults who want to decelerate the aging process and improve their body’s health at the molecular level.

Researchers point to evidence indicating that boosting your body’s levels of NAD+ may help protect your brain from degenerative diseases, and might even inhibit some of the harmful effects of cholesterol (1).

Because of this kind of evidence, NAD+ supplements belong squarely in the arena of supplements that are great for older adults, alongside better-known supplements like fish oil, vitamin B12, and eye vitamins

NAD+ supplements work by providing your body with precursors to synthesize NAD+. Most adults have normal levels of NAD+, thanks to a synthesis pathway that involves the amino acid tryptophan or the B-vitamin niacin. However, some research suggests that boosting NAD+ levels beyond the normal range could lead to protective effects for older adults.

The connection between NAD+ and aging comes from the fact that many of the stresses of aging, like DNA damage, oxidation, and inflammation, increase your body’s demand for NAD+.

In fact, one of the proposed mechanisms for why life extension and anti-aging diet strategies like caloric restriction and intermittent fasting work has to do with their ability to modify NAD+ metabolism. 

Research in mice suggests that supplements which can boost NAD+ levels can be protective against many of the hallmark health deteriorations that come along with age.

For example, one study published in Nature Communications in 2016 noted that mice fed a supplement that boosts NAD+ levels were able to resist weight gain, even on a high-fat diet, avoid hearing loss, prevent peripheral nerve damage from diabetes, and even sustain the function of their stem cells as they got older (2).

All of these findings indicate that NAD+ is one of the most exciting emerging supplements for older adults to look into. 

How we ranked

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide isn’t something you can consume effectively in a supplement, but you can take supplements that provide precursors that allow your body to boost NAD production. To this end, we geared our rankings towards supplements that provided ingredients that have been shown to be effective at boosting NAD+ levels inside the body.

These molecular precursors included tryptophan, nicotinamide riboside, nicotinic acid riboside, niacin (also known as vitamin B3), and nicotinamide mononucleotide. As the names suggest, these are all related but different compounds, and all of them can serve as precursors to NAD+ (3).

When formulating our rankings, we required that any NAD+ supplement under consideration have at least one of these NAD+ precursors. We also required that the supplements on our list be primarily focused on boosting NAD+ production in your body.

This didn’t necessarily mean they couldn’t have ancillary ingredients with other uses (for example, general-purpose antioxidants), but this did mean that we excluded supplements whose focus was only broadly on anti-aging, or vitamins for older adults that happened to include NAD+-boosting compounds.

After filtering the candidates to include only those focused on NAD+ production with effective NAD+ precursors, we turned our attention to dosage.

While NAD+ supplementation is a fairly new area of research, there are still a few research papers that indicate what level of dosage is required to achieve substantial boosts in NAD+ levels in the blood. There’s also some preliminary evidence on safety at different doses of some NAD+ precursors, which we used to target supplements that provided doses of NAD+ precursors that were likely to be both effective and safe.

Supplements with effective doses ranked the highest, with supplements with doses that were a little on the low side sitting lower in the rankings.

We then turned our attention to the other ingredients in the supplements. Perks like other antioxidants were nice to have, but the overarching goal in this step was to reward supplements with minimal unnecessary ingredients like binders and fillers.

These supplements with clean, minimalist ingredient design saw a boost in their rankings, while those that were bloated with binders and stabilizers dropped or were eliminated entirely. 

In addition to the ingredients, we also considered the method of delivery. The most effective way to deliver NAD+ supplements is in a capsule, but some people require or prefer a spray or dropper. This method of delivery is called a “sublingual supplement,” meaning below the tongue (which is how you administer it).

Sublingual NAD+ supplements are best-suited for older adults who have trouble swallowing, or who already have to take a lot of pills and capsules. Our top NAD+ supplements were all capsule-based, but we made sure to include a few of the top-performing sublingual sprays in our rankings.

With capsules, we had a slight preference for vegan-friendly cellulose over gelatin capsules, but in most cases the top supplements already were using vegetable-derived cellulose. 

After considering all of these criteria in our rankings and eliminations, we were left with our final rankings of the best NAD+ supplements on the market. These are your best bet for effectively boosting your body’s NAD+ levels to improve your energy levels and cellular health.

Benefits

NAD+ supplements that include nicotinamide riboside are very effective at boosting levels of NAD+ in your blood. One of the most important ingredients we were looking for when we formulated our rankings was nicotinamide riboside, a molecule that is related to (but not identical to) vitamin B3.

This molecule achieved its high level of importance thanks to research that makes a strong case for its ability to quickly and effectively boost levels of NAD+ in the body. A scientific paper published by researchers at the University of Iowa was able to demonstrate that nicotinamide riboside, taken as a supplement, leads to large increases in NAD+ in both mice and humans (4).

A single dose of nicotinamide riboside was able to boost levels of NAD+ by 170% compared to normal levels over the course of just 12 hours. The study results also suggest that massive doses of nicotinamide riboside aren’t necessary: 100, 300, and 1000 mg doses performed equally well when it came to boosting NAD+ in the blood. This is encouraging, because it suggests that you aren’t losing out if you go with a more modest dose of nicotinamide riboside.

Nicotinamide and nicotinic acid might not be as effective at boosting NAD+, compared to nicotinamide riboside. It can be hard to keep all the niacin derivatives and relatives straight, since their names are so similar, but the bottom line is that nicotinamide riboside, or NR, is the most effective of the various NAD+ precursors.

The same 2016 paper referenced above also compared nicotinamide riboside to these two other NAD+ precursors, sometimes referred to as Nam and NA, and found that NR is the best at boosting NAD+ levels.

More surprisingly, the researchers also found that Nam and NA seem to be processed through different biochemical pathways than NR.

This is surprising because they are all precursors to the same compound. However, these findings could suggest that certain NAD+ precursors are more effective at some specific applications than others—for example, in this study, only NR led to increased NAD+ concentration in the heart, as opposed to other NAD+ precursors which did not lead to increases in NAD+ in heart tissue.

NAD+ supplements could help boost your metabolism and prevent some of the harmful effects of obesity. Since NAD+ plays a pivotal role in cellular metabolism, one obvious potential area of application is in obesity. One of the primary negative health effects of obesity is the metabolic abnormalities, like type 2 diabetes, that can result from having excess body fat.

Some research suggests that supplements that boost NAD+ levels could help protect you from some of these negative metabolic effects. One such paper was published in 2012 in the journal Cell Metabolism (5). In the paper, mice fed a nicotinamide riboside supplement were largely able to resist the negative metabolic effects of being fed a high-fat diet.

The researchers interpreted their results to mean that boosting NAD+ levels in the body could help both with negative health effects from obesity, and negative health effects from aging (since both of these conditions lead to abnormalities in cellular metabolism).

Maintaining high levels of NAD+ in the brain might help protect you from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia. Research in rats consistently shows that NAD+ levels in the brain drop precipitously with age. One paper published in 2013 demonstrated that NAD+ declines go hand-in-hand with an increase in oxidative damage in the central nervous system (6).

The researchers hypothesized that the accumulation of this oxidative damage—brought on by decreases in the body’s ability to slow down and prevent oxidation—are behind the cognitive decline that is seen in brain function with increasing age.

Other research in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease showed how mitochondrial dysfunction is a hallmark effect of degenerative diseases of the central nervous system, like Alzheimer’s and dementia (7).

By using NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide, an NAD+ precursor found in NAD+ supplements) to augment the levels of NAD+ in the mice, the researchers were able to reverse the negative changes in mitochondrial function in their mouse model of Alzheimer’s.

As with many of the exciting frontiers of NAD+ supplementation, this research is still in the early stages, but these preliminary animal studies show a lot of promise for helping to treat or perhaps even prevent or slow down the progress of neurodegenerative diseases in humans.

More research, including clinical trials, will be needed to confirm these results, but the initial signs from animal studies such as these are nevertheless very exciting. 

Boosting NAD+ levels could improve heart function and sustain heart health as you get older. One area of your body that has an extremely high concentration of mitochondria, and hence an extremely high demand for NAD+, is your heart tissue.

Several studies suggest that boosting NAD+ levels could have positive effects on heart function, since heart damage and heart failure are associated with decreased levels of NAD+. One study, published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology in 2017 by Pankaj Chaturvedi and Suresh Tyagi, cites research showing that NAD+ supplementation can improve heart function in animal models of heart failure (8).

The connection between NAD+ function and heart health also seems to be linked to stem cells in heart muscle: as you get older, your stem cells cease to function as well, and eventually die off.

However, NAD+ supplementation could help sustain your muscle stem cells as you get older, which translates into better heart health (your heart being a muscle, of course). NAD+ supplementation in animals has even been able to prevent damage from ischemia and reperfusion, two sources of serious heart damage in heart disease (9).

Animal research suggests that NAD+ could improve your muscle function and even extend your lifespan. One of the biggest turning points in interest in NAD+ wasa 2016 publication in the prestigious journal Science that reported on a wide range of experiments on using the NAD+ precursor nicotinamide riboside (the primary ingredient in many top NAD+ supplements) to boost NAD+ levels in aging mice (10).

With several detailed studies on the muscle physiology of the aged mice, both with and without the NAD+ supplement, the researchers were able to demonstrate significant improvements in muscle function after NAD+ supplementation. In addition, the mice given NAD+ had significantly longer lifespans than the control mice not given the NAD+ supplement.

The researchers chalked this up in part to an increase in the protection provided to stem cells: by sustaining the body’s ability to repair itself, the inevitable decline of aging was staved off for longer in the mice with higher NAD+ levels.

As more research in humans comes out, we’ll learn more about whether these effects translate to people, but NAD+ supplements, particularly those based on nicotinamide riboside, appear to have a very bright future. 

Side effects

Depending on the specific NAD+ supplement you are taking, the side effect profile may vary. The best-known side effects of NAD+ supplements include “flushing,” a redness and tingling in your skin (often your face or fingers) that you feel soon after taking the supplement.

Flushing is associated with nicotinic acid, or NA, which is a form of vitamin B3. Other NAD+ precursors do not cause flushing. According to a paper by researchers in Slovenia, while there is scarce large-scale research in humans for most NAD+ precursors, extrapolating from animal data suggests that they are likely safe at the doses used in humans (11).

The only notable exception is for high doses of nicotinamide and nicotinic acid. Very high doses of these NAD+ precursors (over 500 to 900 mg per day) are not recommended, as they can lead to elevated levels of liver enzymes, abdominal pain, itchy skin, flushing, and vomiting.

Recommended dosage

The right dosage of an NAD+ supplement is going to depend on the specific NAD+ precursor that you are taking. If you are using nicotinamide riboside, doses in the range of 100 to 300 mg per day all appear to be equally effective.

Research using NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) has explored doses of 100-500 mg per day, though only for safety, not to determine which dosage level is most effective (12).

Nicotinamide and nicotinic acid should be limited to less than 500 mg per day, for the aforementioned issues with flushing, itching, and other side effects.

FAQ

Q: What are the most effective NAD+ supplements? 

A: Right now, the latest scientific evidence indicates that the best NAD+ supplements are the ones that are based on nicotinamide riboside. This NAD+ precursor is rapidly absorbed, and has been shown to increase NAD+ levels in the blood and the concentration of NAD+ metabolites in the heart.

NMN, or nicotinamide mononucleotide, has shown promise in animal studies, but when it comes to human studies, the best evidence we have right now points towards nicotinamide riboside. That’s why our top-ranked NAD+ supplements, like Elysium Basis and TRU Niagen, are nicotinamide riboside-based.

Q: Can NAD+ supplements help with Alzheimer’s? 

A: While there aren’t any solid clinical trials supporting the use of NAD+ supplements to improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, there is some circumstantial evidence from biochemistry studies and animal models that suggest that boosting NAD+ levels with a supplement could help.

For example, a scientific paper published in 2018 in the journal Current Opinion in Psychiatry cites numerous studies showing that aging and deteriorating brain cells have lower levels of NAD+.

While the utility of NAD+ supplements in terms of improving actual symptoms is still theoretical, it’s nevertheless a very exciting opportunity, and several studies are underway.

Q: Can you get NAD+ from food?

A: While NAD+ content in food can’t be incorporated into your body, you can make use of NAD+ precursors like tryptophan, nicotinamide riboside, and nicotinic acid (vitamin B3). Good sources for these NAD+ precursors include cow’s milk, turkey, fish, mushrooms, and nutritional yeast.

If you aren’t getting enough NAD+ precursors in your diet, or if you want direct control over the dosage of these precursors, consider taking an NAD+ supplement alongside these foods. If you are using a supplement for NAD+ and are eating a diet that’s high in NAD+ precursors, make sure you don’t exceed the recommended upper limit of 500 mg per day of nicotinamide (vitamin B3).

Higher levels of other NAD+ precursors appear safe, but too much vitamin B3 can cause skin itching and flushing. If you aren’t taking a supplement that contains high levels of vitamin B3, though, you should be fine.

Q: What is the difference between NADH and NA+? 

A: NADH and NAD+ are two forms of the same molecule. NADH is the “reduced” form, and NAD+ is the “oxidized” form. When used in biological processes, NAD+ reverts back and forth between its reduced and oxidized forms, functioning as a cog in the cellular equipment that produces and regenerates energy for your body.

In terms of supplementation, the terminology isn’t important: neither NAD+ nor NADH can be absorbed directly. Instead, you need to eat foods or take supplements that provide precursor molecules that your body can synthesize into NAD+. 

Q: What is the best sublingual NAD+ supplement? 

A: Sublingual, or under the tongue, supplements are an easy way to take NAD+ precursors if you or the person you are caring for can’t or doesn’t like to swallow pills.

We particularly liked the formulation and easy delivery of Quicksilver Scientific NAD+ Gold: the spray bottle was easy to use, and the nicotinamide mononucleotide formulation is likely to be effective.

Sublingual NAD+ supplements are good for the special niche populations, but for most people who take an NAD+ supplement, a capsule-based product is a better fit: you get a more consistent dosage, better value, and you get access to the most effective precursors of NAD+. 

Q: Should you take NAD+ in the morning or at night? 

A: Based on some of the early pharmacokinetics studies of NAD+, it probably does not matter what time of day you take your NAD+. That’s because your NAD+ levels stay elevated for quite a long time after a single dose of NAD+. A paper published in the journal PLoS ONE 2017 described how one daily dose of the NAD+ supplement nicotinamide riboside was able to sustain consistently high blood NAD+ levels (even though the elimination half-life of NAD+ itself was rather short) (X).

If you feel like you get a boost in NAD+ levels, taking it right away in the morning might be a good idea, but taking it at night is fine, too—safety trials of NAD+ supplements have found no effects on sleep quality (13).

Q: Can you boost your NAD+ levels with niacin? 

A: Yes, niacin (one of the forms of vitamin B3) can lead to increased levels of NAD+ in your blood, but it’s far from the best way to boost your NAD+ levels. Niacin and other direct forms of B3 can be harmful at higher doses, and don’t seem to be as effective as other NAD+ precursors at actually boosting levels of NAD+ in your body.

While vitamin B3 is certainly important, if you are specifically targeting your NAD+ levels, it’s better to opt for a supplement that uses nicotinamide mononucleotide or nicotinamide riboside. These are the NAD+ boosters that have shown the most promise in preliminary research, and appear to have a better safety profile than niacin.

Q: Is NAD+ an anti-aging supplement? 

A: NAD+ supplements are definitely anti-aging in the sense of holding the potential to improve the aging-related decline in cellular function: as you get older, metabolic abnormalities become more common, and in aging and deteriorating brains, NAD+ levels are lower.

Boosting NAD+ levels with an NAD+ supplement could be a way to reverse some of these aging-related declines. NAD+ supplements focus on some of the core mechanisms of aging, as opposed to superficial aging treatments like wrinkle cream, which only target a specific manifestation of the aging process (in that case, loss of collagen in the skin). 

Q: Is niacin or niacinamide better for NAD+?

A: Both niacin and niacinamide are easily absorbed by your body, and your body can convert niacin into niacinamide. While both of these forms of vitamin B3 have been studied for their potential to boost NAD+ levels, neither of them are the most-researched compounds for increasing NAD+ these days. Instead, much of the focus is now on nicotinamide mononucleotide and especially nicotinamide riboside.

These NAD+ precursors are not only more effective at increasing NAD+ levels, but do not seem to have the same side effect profile of niacin and niacinamide. While niacin and niacinamide are safe at low to moderate levels, higher levels can cause flushing, itching, and nausea. At least according to research so far, nicotinamide mononucleotide and nicotinamide riboside appear to have better safety profiles.

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Recap

NAD+ supplements provide your body with the precursors it needs to increase levels of NAD+, a core molecule for cellular energy production and cellular health.

NAD+ supplements are particularly useful for older adults, and may help you control your weight, protect yourself from degenerative damage to your nervous system, and reduce DNA damage and inflammation. The most effective way to boost your NAD+ levels is with a daily supplement that includes at least 100 mg of nicotinamide riboside, since this precursor to NAD+ has been demonstrated to directly increase NAD+ levels in studies on humans.

Importantly, nicotinamide riboside increases levels of NAD+ and its metabolites in the areas of your body that need it the most, like your heart.

If you want to boost your energy production, improve your resistance to the negative effects of obesity, and possibly even sustain better cognitive function into old age, an NAD+ supplement might be able to help. 

For BodyNutrition‘s #1 NAD recommendation, click here.



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