Why NAD+ Is Everywhere Right Now

Written and Reviewed by: Elysium Health

Key Takeaways

  • NAD+ is gaining traction and grabbing attention across the board. Celebrities, doctors, and people with longevity aspirations are sharing their success stories. 
  • Its popularity originates in the field of longevity science. Because of its solid foundation in clinical research, NAD+ supplementation is poised to continue gaining momentum.
  • NAD+ is about healthy aging—in more ways than one. Thanks to emerging research, we know that NAD+ offers a variety of benefits, starting at the cellular level.

Related products 

  • Basis: Basis combines the NAD+ precursor NR and pterostilbene to boost NAD+ levels and activate SIRT1 to maintain DNA, support energy production, reduce tiredness and fatigue, and optimize cellular health.
  • Signal: This daily oral supplement combines the NAD+ precursor NMN with a SIRT3 Activation Complex to boost NAD+ levels and promote mitochondrial health to support healthy muscle function and cellular metabolism.

Does it suddenly feel as if you can’t scroll through social media, browse the skincare aisles, or even turn on the news without hearing about NAD+ (or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) all of a sudden? Allow us to explain.

NAD+, a coenzyme essential to your cellular health and estimated to be involved in over 500 different cellular reactions in humans, has been gaining recognition in recent years as a key to healthy aging. That’s because research shows it naturally decreases in our tissues with age. And while there’s always some new ”it” thing in the wellness market that inevitably proves to be lackluster, NAD+ isn’t just another flash-in-the-pan trend. Science is proving it’s a central part of the longevity conversation with a bright future ahead. 

However, the question remains: Why is the coenzyme that was first discovered in 1906 and helped two scientists win a Nobel Prize in 1929 suddenly getting so much attention? Here are a few of the significant factors that have all eyes on NAD+.

NAD+ Has Famous Fans

You can also thank pop culture for the rise in interest in the science of NAD+, as several high-profile devotees have spoken up about the health benefits they feel using it. It even made it into a 2022 episode of Hulu’s The Kardashians, when Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber went to a drip bar to get NAD+ via IV. Bieber joked, I’m going to NAD for the rest of my life...” 

Bieber’s famed husband, Justin, is also a convert. He claimed to use NAD+ regularly in his health routine in his documentary Justin Bieber: Seasons. And former NFL star Jay Cutler told GQ magazine in 2021, I'm doing NAD therapy, which, at a core level, helps everything in your body. I've noticed that that's definitely helped me. 

The Rise of IV Therapy

One of the reasons people are hearing about NAD+ more? Some people opt to take it intravenously. And since IV therapy, in general, is trending, that means more people are being exposed to NAD+. It also got a boost during the COVID-19 pandemic, when some people (including radio show host Joe Rogan) turned to NAD+ “drip therapy” in an effort to boost their recovery from the illness.  

Unfortunately, none of the scientific claims that people tend to cite when it comes to NAD+ IV therapy have been proven in humans, a fact that spurred the FTC to issue a warning in 2020 against a clinic offering IV therapies, including NAD+ as a COVID-19 treatment. While a pilot study in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience demonstrated a large increase in NAD+ levels in the plasma, they showed a concurrent, large increase in NAD+ excretion in urine, suggesting that the injected NAD+ was rapidly degraded. It’s unclear how much of the NAD+ delivered through IV therapy actually makes its way inside cells, where they are needed. Unlike NAD+ IV therapy, oral supplementation with NAD+ precursors like NR and NMN is scientifically proven to boost NAD+ levels. Our daily supplement Basis was demonstrated in a human clinical trial to increase NAD+ levels by 40% above baseline after 30 days. 

Longevity Is the New Wellness

Longevity science is capturing interest in ever-widening circles. Last month, Women’s Health made a bold prediction: Longevity is replacing wellness as the new “it” word. Why? “It’s health and wellness, but with staying power,” journalist Scarlett Keddie writes. “People are looking to optimize their routines, finesse their fitness and generally ask more of their products, because without the promise of healthy aging—or longevity—why do we puff and prime and prick ourselves daily?”  

Keddie cites data from management consulting firm McKinsey to back up the shift from wellness to longevity. According to McKinsey, more than 60 percent of consumers surveyed in the U.S. considered it “very” or “extremely” important to buy products that support healthy aging and longevity. With the tech sector’s obsession in finding new and better ways to improve their body’s performance, it seems that anything that promises to help take control of your health is a hot topic. NAD+ falls into this category as one of the primary targets of longevity research. 

It’s a Hit the Skin Care Industry

NAD+ is increasingly popping up in skin care formulations in the hopes of harnessing its role in cellular health for vibrant, healthy complexion. It’s not yet clear how effective these products are, as the topical benefits of NAD+ are still being studied. But there’s a good scientific basis for taking oral NAD+ precursors for skin health. Ceramides and other lipids in the skin decrease naturally with age, compromising the skin’s ability to retain moisture and keep out harmful substances. Supplementing with precursors of NAD+ can help. Studies demonstrate that niacinamide (also known as nicotinamide or NAM) stimulates the synthesis of ceramides and other lipids in the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the epidermis) and reduces transepidermal water loss. NAM is one of several precursor molecules that contribute to the synthesis of NAD+, including nicotinamide riboside (NR) and nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). NAD+ levels in the skin decline by as much as 50% every 20 years.

More Visibility on Social Platforms

Search the hashtag #NADplus on Instagram or TikTok, and you’ll get a sea of influencers, doctors, and everyday people talking about their experience with NAD+. With the world’s habit of clicking “share” on the things we’re doing, trying, and even thinking about, it’s no wonder NAD+ is catching attention as more and more people report that they feel that they’ve found the fountain of youth. 

Of course, not everything you see on social media about NAD+ has been proven—or is true—so it’s important to read up on exactly what NAD+ can and can’t do, how your body makes and maintains it, and how to increase your levels of it via taking the precursors that your body can convert into NAD+.

The Science Says It All

NAD publications by year

Of all the reasons why NAD+ is everywhere, scientific research is the one that matters most (but we’re a little biased). The graph above gives a picture of the rising popularity of NAD+ in scientific research. Since 1945, 70,557 scientific papers about NAD+ have been cataloged by PubMed, a database of biomedical literature managed by the National Institutes of Health. And researchers have completed or are in the process of carrying out 1,179 human clinical trials about NAD+, according to clinicaltrials.gov. One important reason why publication numbers rose so sharply around the year 2000 is that Leonard Guarente, Ph.D., published a seminal paper that year showing that sirtuins—also known as “longevity genes” for their involvement in critical cellular processes—require NAD+ to function.

So the recent buzz about NAD+ is the result of decades of careful research. A handful of recent studies, however, generated a lot of excitement. In 2012, researchers confirmed that levels of NAD+ decline with age in human tissues. “The resulting NAD+ depletion may play a major role in the aging process, by limiting energy production, DNA repair and genomic signaling,” the authors wrote. In 2022, researchers were even more explicit about the connection between NAD+ abundance and healthy aging. In a study published in Nature Aging, the authors wrote: “Our work suggests that a clear association exists between NAD+ and health status in human aging.” And the role of NAD+ and sirtuins as a central pathway of aging was confirmed in major papers about the hallmarks of aging and how calorie restriction benefits healthy aging in humans. All of this research made it from the labs and journals into social media and dinner table conversations.

It’s in the News

The news follows the science—and astute reporters have been following NAD+ for years. It even got the feature treatment in TIME magazine in 2018, in a story that included Elysium prominently. Other stories about NAD+ and its precursors have appeared in a wide variety of publications, from Elle and Harper’s Bazaar, to Men’s Health and Muscle and Fitness. With more research in the works, we expect NAD+ to continue to inspire journalists.

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