NAD+ supplements are increasingly popular thanks to their longevity-boosting potential. But how do you source a NAD+ booster that works? We check out the latest launches.

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Vitamin A, collagen, CBD…. Not a month goes by when we hear about a new ‘wonder’ ingredient that is going to blitz our ailments and hold back the years, and NAD+ supplements are the latest making waves.

NAD (pronounced ‘N.A.D.’), is an energy-generating molecule that’s found in every cell in the body. In supplement form, it may improve our health (and, by extension, our skin) in a myriad of ways, from giving us more energy to reducing cravings to protecting against cell damage, and much more. It’s touted by some as the ultimate anti-ageing pill: "NAD+ is the closest we’ve got to a fountain of youth,” says Dr David Sinclair, a genetics professor from Harvard Medical School. “It’s one of the most important molecules for life to exist, and without it, you’re dead in 30 seconds.” 

According to molecular biologist and UK supplement entrepreneur Dr Nichola Conlon,“Consumers have really embraced the idea of long-term preventative healthcare much more than they did before, and they’re looking for solutions like NAD+ [the ‘activated’ form of NAD and the term that’s most widely used for this energy-generating co-enzyme] that really hold water.”

Doctors we spoke to were cautious but open-minded. Cosmetic physician Dr David Jack says: “I’ve seen numerous studies showing benefits of NAD supplementation in modulating inflammation, metabolic decline and cellular and DNA repair.” The chance of side effects, he says, is low, so “although the evidence is in its early stages, NAD+ may be a very useful supplement for patients either suffering from neurodegenerative conditions or as part of an anti-ageing supplement routine.”

The buzz around NAD+ has spawned a growing market for NAD+ IV therapy, as well as for supplements that help our body make its own NAD+: so-called NAD+ precursors (or ‘boosters’). The latest cutting-edge capsules to crowd the wellness shelves - you’ll spot them primarily as NMN, Niagen or NAD+ supplements.

For our pick of the best NAD+ boosters and to find out whether NAD+ IV therapy is worth it, read on.

What is NAD+?

NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is a natural chemical found in every single cell in the body. It plays a major role in generating cellular energy, as well as in the maintenance and repair of your cells, and you will also see it referred to as NAD or NADH. All in all, it is thought to be involved in more than 500 different reactions that keep cells in good health.

How does NAD+ work to help fight ageing?

If we have high levels of NAD+, it means we have lots of cellular energy, meaning our cells function optimally and we feel more energetic and alert. It also means the body can repair itself quicker, which helps keep our organs, including our skin, in pristine working order. But just like collagen, our levels of NAD+ decline with age. It’s thought they halve every 20 years, from the day you’re born. With age, the body becomes less able to generate it, plus older, naturally more damaged cells use up NAD+ stores at a higher rate. A downwards spiral of NAD+ correlates with the onset of many of the complaints associated with ageing including wrinkles, memory loss, heart problems, dementia, Parkinson’s, vision loss, and more. “NAD+ decline is seen as one of the nine main hallmarks of ageing,” says Conlon.

How do you increase your levels of NAD+?

You cannot stop the decline of your body’s ability to produce NAD+, but you can slow down the rate at which the body uses it up. Basically, the healthier you are and the less damage your body’s cells sustain (from things like disease, stress, unhealthy lifestyle choices and an unhealthy environment), the more NAD+ you have available for keeping your organs in ‘homeostasis’, or strong, healthy and ‘young’ for their age.

In other words, a good old healthy lifestyle with the right nutrition and lots of stress management is, as per usual, the best way to keep this important energy molecule ticking over. In terms of diet, foods rich in vitamin B3 should be top of your list. “It’s a precursor for NAD, meaning it's one of the building blocks that the body uses to make NAD,” says Conlon. The richest source of B3 , or niacin, is liver, followed by chicken, turkey and salmon. But it’s also found in rice, legumes and bananas.

Healthy lifestyle habits such as HIIT exercise and intermittent fasting work, says Conlon, because they ignite the body’s NAD+ production: “The temporary cell stress they create switches on our internal maintenance and repair mechanism.”

But it’s increasingly thought supplementing NAD+ can offset its natural decline as well, as evidenced by multiple studies. One suggests that NAD+ supplementation may activate the protection and stabilisation of telomeres, which help prevent cell death and therefore the risk of long-term diseases setting in. Ultimately, says Conlon, “while I would stop short of saying NAD+ supplementation helps you live longer, it is clear it improves health span, which is the proportion of your life you spend in good health.”

But there is a caveat. There are thousands of papers on NAD+ supplementation in animals, and, says Conlon, about 20 human studies. But at present, there is no conclusive, long-term proof that it can reverse or delay ageing. It’s also important to keep in mind that we are talking about a nutritional supplement here, not medication. Of course, that doesn’t stop people from taking their chances in the pursuit of a longer, healthier life.

What are the benefits of NAD+ supplements?

Reported benefits of NAD+ supplementation are wide-ranging:

  • Improving sports performance: Due to its energy-boosting abilities (increases in energy, resilience and recovery are reported) and positive impact on muscle function, NAD+ is popular with athletes and sports performance coaches. It is also used (in the US at least) to help treat chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Sleep issues and hangovers: In one study, it was shown NAD+ seems to re-set our internal ‘body clock’, causing some to supplement NAD+ to treat jet lag and insomnia. “People use it to support mitochondria [our ‘cell batteries’] to combat fatigue,” says nutritional therapist Daniel O’Shaughnessy. And because it fortifies cells’ defence systems, it is used by others as a ‘hangover cure’ to help protect the liver from the damage alcohol does. “It’s used in addiction treatment to support the withdrawal from alcohol and some drugs,” says O’Shaughnessy. “It’s also being researched for long-Covid support.”
  • Collagen regeneration: The world of aesthetics and ‘tweakments’ is keeping a beady eye on NAD+ as well. No wonder, as high levels of cellular energy mean that the body can more effectively prevent and clear up signs of skin ageing such as brown spots and fine lines. “Not only that, but the basic principle of ‘tweakments’ is that a level of controlled damage is inflicted on the skin, which then sets off a repairing, collagen-boosting mechanism in the skin,” says Conlon. “However, if the body is low on cellular energy, it has trouble performing this tissue repair and it won’t generate much additional collagen, leading to disappointing or even negative results. Boosting NAD+ reserves is thought to shore up this collagen supply and can therefore be the essential missing ‘prep’ step in skin rejuvenation procedures.”
  • Improving symptoms of menopause: The booming menopause market is also ready to pounce. “We are super interested in the implications for menopause relief, and are chasing scientific data for this,” says Dr Conlon. “Menopause causes a huge increase in cellular ageing in a short space of time, turning off the energy and repair mechanisms that you so desperately need right at this time of life.”

    NAD+ is effective at mopping up DNA damage and oxidative stress, so it may help offset this lack of repair. “It may also support memory and cognition, which means it could help with the dreaded ‘brain fog’,” says Conlon. Cosmetic physician Dr Sophie Shotter recommends NAD supplements to patients who struggle with hormone-related energy levels.
  •  Suppressing food cravings: Apart from the aforementioned protective effect on the liver and delivering much-needed energy when you’ve been burning the candle at both ends, “NAD+ can help suppress the cravings that plague addicts,” says Conlon. The theory is that having enough NAD+ in your system stops the body ‘running on empty’ from substance abuse. As a result, it craves fewer ‘fresh hits’ of more stimulants.

Former party girl and recovering alcoholic turned biohacker Davinia Taylor noticed this after having a NAD+ IV drip. “It gets rid of any cravings - sugar, shopping…. I didn’t even fancy the chips I was trying to treat myself with,” she says. “NAD+ shuts down the body’s need for a dopamine rush. It makes me feel not wired like you would from Red Bull - but chipper. It’s like a healthy alternative to hair of the dog, and an antidote to the fact that hangovers get worse with age. It’s an awake, clean energy that helps you deal with any stress better. It’s the ultimate energy shortcut for me.”

What are the side effects of taking NAD+ supplements?

From the research so far (which comprises only those few human studies), very few contra-indications have been flagged for taking supplements with NAD+ precursors (see below for more on these). In the human studies, 1000-2000mg of nicotinamide riboside (one popular precursor) a day had no harmful effects – and most supplements contain 250-500mg a day. However, long-term effects in humans are still relatively unknown.

What is the best way to supplement NAD+?

The jury is out on the best way to take  NAD+, but NAD+ IV therapy and supplements containing NAD+ boosters or precursors are the most popular options. 

Having a NAD+ IV drip delivers NAD+ directly into your veins, which biohacking fans claim increases bioavailability and is therefore the fastest way to get a major clarity-of-mind boost, in preparation for a major event or to aid recovery from injury or illness.

GTG's Victoria Woodhall tries a NAD+ drip at Dr Enayat's clinic, Hum2n

Beware, though: apart from a substantial financial investment, having these drips is also an investment in time, as they typically take three hours to infuse. Unless you take the ‘speedy’ half-hour option which, according to people we’ve spoken to, has an unpleasant side effect in the shape of temporary stomach and brain pressure as the active works its way into your system. Taylor gets her drips from Dr Enayat at London biohacking health clinic Hum2n, who offers a ‘substance detox programme’ of five IV drips in one week, starting at £2795, and a three-drip anti-ageing protocol, with extras such as glutathione and B vitamins, from £1295. A single drip costs £350.

What’s the best way to boost NAD+ with supplements?

According to Conlon, getting pure NAD+ into the bloodstream via NAD+ injections or NAD+ drips doesn’t mean the enzyme actually gets into the body’s cells. “Right now, there’s very little proof that it can, apart from some indication that it can permeate some neuronal [brain and nervous system] cells,” she says.

This is why most oral NAD+ supplements provide not NAD+, but NAD+ precursors (or ‘boosters’), which the body converts into NAD+ to provide a slow and steady supply of cellular energy. The names you’re looking for are:

  • Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN)

This is a derivative of vitamin B3 (related to the famed multi-functional skincare ingredient niacinamide) and a direct precursor to NAD+: it takes the body one step to turn one into the other.

  • Nicotinamide riboside (NR)

Also known as niagen, this is a form of vitamin B3 that some say takes more steps to convert into NAD+ than NMN, while others say it’s more bio-available and therefore more efficient than NMN. There is no scientific consensus about whether NR or NMN is the more efficient NAD+ precursor; more independent research is needed.

  • Nicotinamide (NAM)

This is the most common form of vitamin B3, also known as niacinamide and readily available in our diet. In the body it needs to convert into NMN before it converts into NAD+. NMN and NR are thought to be more potent than NAM in elevating NAD+ levels, but they are also more expensive.

  • Tryptophan

NAD+ can be synthesised from the essential amino-acid L-tryptophan (find it in dairy, meat, chocolate, oats...), so, like other dietary sources, tryptophan can be seen as a NAD+ precursor.

  • NADH

This, says pharmacist Shabir Daya, is a reduced form of NAD+ that, while giving energy, doesn’t play the many varied roles in the body that NAD+ does.

  • Riagev

A next-gen NAD+ precursor that combines bioenergy ribose (an energy-releasing sugar) with nicotinamide (a form of vitamin B3). It says Daya, “enhances NAD+ levels markedly more than NMN or nicotinamide riboside supplements.”

Do NAD+ creams work?

There are a few topical NAD+ face creams and serums on the market which claim to brighten, tighten, smooth and intensely hydrate, including Invity Youth Activating Instant Filler, £70, and  Intuisse Active NAD+ Face Serum, £210. However, there are currently no independent clinical trials to prove that this type of dermal delivery can work for NAD+ (a it’s a very large molecule, which makes it tough to penetrate the skin barrier) or for NAD+ precursors.

Dr Sam Bunting has found a way around this issue: she has the papers to show that the 5 per cent sunflower shoot extract in her Dr Sam’s Flawless Vitamin C NAD+ Serum ,£62, increases intrinsic NAD+ production to re-boot cellular energy and therefore rejuvenating activity in the skin. 

9 NAD+ boosting supplements for energy and longevity

Best for performance and mood: Artah Enhanced NAD+ Complex, £60 for a 30-day supply

Uses NAD+ precursors niacinamide (NAM) and Nicotinamide riboside (NR) - 400mg in total - and a host of anti-inflammatory, immunity-boosting and antioxidant super-nutrients such as saffron, quercetin and resveratrol for a 360 degree approach to cellular health and longevity.

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Best for cutting-edge NAD-boosting science: NAD+ Generator, £32 for a 30-day supply

Boasting supreme bio-availability, the Riagev molecule in here receives support from vitamin C for a one-a-day overall life boost in the shape of preserving youthful function, slowing down cellular ageing, protecting your genetic material, and enhancing energy.

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The award-winner: Jolt Ultimate Age Blocker, £69.99 for a 30-day supply

Calling itself the ‘ultimate age blocker’, three daily capsules of this provide 500mg NMN plus a load of powerful cell-protecting antioxidants r-lipoic acid, trans-resveratrol, curcumin, fisetin and piperin alongside collagen-boosting SkinAX2 and barrier-boosting ceramosides. That should stop decline in its tracks. It won ‘Best for Energy’ in our Get The Gloss Wellness Awards 2024.

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Best to pep you up: Youth & Earth NAD Max, £44.99 for a 30-day supply

Teams 500mg of NMN with a number of other antioxidant cell-energisers and apigenin, a natural compound found in parsley that fights off a protein that negatively affects the production of NAD+ (one that, of course, becomes more prevalent with age).

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Best for a longer health-span: Nuchido Time+, £65 for a 30-day supply

A daily dose of this provides 500mg of NAD+ precursor nicotinamide (NAM) alongside a raft of cell-repairing botanical extracts. It was created by Conlon, for whom good NAD+ supplement needs to provide a blend of nutrients that help repair and maintain your cells, alongside the fuel for making NAD+. 

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One for the daredevils: The Skin Bay NAD+ at Home, £350 for a 20-day supply

If you’re sold on NAD+ drips, you may want to take the cheaper and (relatively) more convenient option of injecting the stuff yourself at home. Yes, really. This is a kit containing a vial of 1000mg NAD+, which is 20 doses, alongside 20 syringes. There’s also a sharps bin and 20 antibacterial wipes for (extremely important) hygiene. You’re to follow video instructions and shoot the fluid into any fatty tissue on the body, then expect more energy, increased performance and less nasty hangovers.

But beware. Dr Sophie Shotter, who was an anaesthesiologist before becoming a cosmetic physician, agrees with Dr Nichola Conlon that there’s precious little proof that NAD+ itself can enter your cells when ingested or injected, and certainly not if injected into fat.

She acknowledges that some people have to self-inject insulin and the like, but “injecting an unlicensed substance (and NAD+ is only licensed as a food supplement) is very different from injecting a prescribed medication under the strict guidance of a doctor.”

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Best for skin: Rejuvenated Regenerate £48.50 for a 30-day supply

This is a blend of 125mg NAD+ precursor NMN and eight ‘youth-boosting’ molecules and anti-inflammatories, including resveratrol, quercetin, fisetin, vitamin B2 and zinc. Together, they fight off the environmental free radical attack that leads to cellular ageing and visible lines and wrinkles.

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Best one-a-day capsule: Humanpeople NMN Pure Supplement, £44 for a 30-day supply

“Fuel in the form of NAD+ activates the production of NAD-dependent ‘longevity gene’ sirtuin 6,” says functional medicine specialist Dr Geoff Mullan of preventative health platform Human People. “Boosting sirtuin proteins will help repair DNA damage and increase metabolism, and that means fewer cancers, heart and neurological issues.” Each of his one-a-day caps provides 500g pure B-nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN).

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Best for weight loss: Avea NMN, £30.60 for a 30-day supply

One daily capsule of this NMN will, says Avea, enhance your energy metabolism in as little as a month, making your feel both more energised and rested, and mimicking calorie restriction in the body (although they don't say how). It's designed to be taken alongside the antioxidant complex Avea Booster £74.70, which has potent anti-inflammatory agents such as resveratrol, and claims to improve insulin sensitivity alongside metabolic and cognitive function. You can buy the two together as a Vitality Bundle for £98.10 (saving £7.10).

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