(Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide)
What Is It?
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NADH, is a coenzyme made
from niacin. Its present in all living cells.
As a coenzyme, NADH serves an important role in helping enzymes
to function as they should. (An enzyme is a protein that works
like a catalyst in the body to prompt chemical changes in other
substances; breaking down food into energy is an example.) Most
coenzymes are synthesized from vitamins, and for optimal energy
production, the body needs good amounts of them. The coenzyme,
NADH, is no exception.
In people, NADH stimulates the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate),
a compound that regulates the release of energy stored in cells.
The more NADH a cell has, the more chemical energy it produces.
Research findings indicate that increased concentrations of NADH
in the brain may boost the production of neurotransmitters brain
chemicals vital to sound mental function.
Until recently, NADH could only be given intravenously because
stomach acid would rapidly destroy the delicate molecule. But
a new enteric-coated, oral tablet containing NADH is now available.
Oral NADH supplementation has been used to combat simple fatigue
as well as such mysterious and energy-sapping disorders as chronic
fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Researchers are also studying
the value of NADH supplements for improving mental function in
people with Alzheimer's disease, and minimizing physical disability
and relieving depression in people with Parkinson's disease.
Some healthy individuals also take NADH supplements orally to
improve concentration and memory capacity, as well as to increase
athletic endurance. However, to date there have been no published
studies to indicate that using NADH is in any way effective or
safe for these purposes.
Specifically, NADH may help to:
- - Relieve chronic fatigue syndrome. A recent study supported
by the Food and Drug Administration found that the oral form
of NADH helped a small group of patients with chronic fatigue
syndrome. In the study, 31% of the participants said they felt
more vigorous and mentally alert when taking daily NADH. Only
8% of those taking the placebo reported such improvements.
- Lift general fatigue as well as fibromyalgia-related exhaustion.
Because NADH increases energy in cells, some researchers speculate
that it may also boost energy in people with fibromyalgia, a
disorder characterized by muscle pain and fatigue. NADH may
also keep simple, daily fatigue at bay by helping to supply
muscle cells with energy.
- Relieve depression. Imbalances in brain chemicals are a primary
cause of certain types of depression. Because NADH stimulates
the production of many key chemicals called neurotransmitters,
it may have a role to play in relieving the symptoms of depression.
No clinical trials to demonstrate this effect have been conducted
so far, however.
- Complement Parkinson's therapy. There is early evidence that
NADH supplements may raise levels of dopamine, a compound crucial
to slowing the physical symptoms of Parkinson's disease and
relieving the depression that often accompanies them. (People
with Parkinsons disease have dwindling supplies of dopamine.)
- Improve Alzheimer's symptoms. Some European studies of NADH
have shown promise for treating people with Alzheimer's disease,
but as of yet, no well-designed double-blind, placebo-controlled
trials have been conducted to demonstrate this effect. One preliminary
study did show that cognitive dysfunction improved in a very
small group of Alzheimer's patients taking NADH.
--To reduce the risk of side effects, such as jitteriness
and mild overstimulation, start out with a small oral dose (2.5
mg a day) for a couple of weeks, gradually increasing the dose
over a period of two to three weeks.
- For chronic fatigue syndrome, 2.5 mg twice a day for 10 days
or one package, then 5 mg twice a day
- For fatigue, 2.5 mg twice a day for 10 days or one package,
then 5 mg twice a day
- For fibromyalgia, 2.5 mg twice a day for 14 days (or one
package, see label), then 5 mg twice a day
- For Parkinson's disease, 5 mg a day, gradually increasing
over two weeks to 10 mg twice a day.
- For Alzheimer's disease, 5 mg twice a day
Guidelines for Use
- Take NADH with water on an empty stomach.
There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with
NADH in oral or injectable form, although more research is needed.
Possible Side Effects
- High doses of NADH (10 mg a day or more) may cause jitteriness,
anxiety, and insomnia.
- The safety of long-term treatment with oral NADH remains
unclear. Most sources recommend using it for periods of no more
than four months, then taking a month off before starting again.
An alternative is to take it only two or three times a week,
rather than daily.
to Anti-Aging Medicine Index