5 Conditions Associated with NAD+ Depletion
NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) has received a lot of attention lately as the newest, and possibly the best, anti-aging molecule found to date. In my previous article, I discuss in detail what NAD+ is and what its functions are in the body.
Our bodies have the capability of making NAD+ using the foods we eat, though this process slowly declines as we age. By age 50, we have lost 50% of our bodies’ NAD+, leading to cellular aging and poor cellular function. That’s why keeping NAD+ levels in the body optimal is an important part of maintaining health.
NAD+ is depleted when there is inflammation or oxidative stress in the body. Free radicals wreak havoc on the system and deplete the body of antioxidants, vitamins, and other powerful molecules that promote efficient cellular functioning and repair. So, most of the things that deplete NAD+ are associated with some degree of oxidative stress.
1. Alcohol Use
Alcohol quickly depletes NAD+ in the body, which then leads to inflammation in the brain and liver. These lower levels of NAD+ also allow for chemical reactions that cause cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Thus, successful alcohol and drug addiction treatment centers often use NAD+ to aid in the detoxification of these addictive substances.
Overeating causes cortisol, glucose, and insulin levels to rise, which can lead to weight gain and increased inflammation. Eating foods high in sugar and fat also puts a lot of stress on the liver and can lead to fatty liver, a condition where fat is stored in the liver that has been associated with lower NAD+ levels in ageing.1
3. Staying Awake at Nighttime / Nightshift Workers
Studies have shown that people who are awake during the night have more oxidative stress than people who sleep at nighttime.2 This internal inflammation is thought to stem from melatonin suppression during the night by staying awake and/or working during the night.
4. Pregnancy* and Postpartum
Both pregnancy and postpartum bring major metabolic stressors to the mother as she is growing and nourishing the baby. During lactation, macronutrients from the mother are transported from the liver to the mammary glands (breasts), and the overall metabolic stress can decrease the mother’s liver NAD+ levels by one-third, adding stress to cells that perform up to and over 500 enzymatic reactions. On the other hand, mammary NAD+ increases by 20-fold. Therefore, improving NAD+ levels in the body may support healthy lactation.
5. Mold Toxicity, Lyme Disease, and Other Chronic Infections
These conditions, associated with CIRS, or Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, notoriously correspond with lower NAD+ levels that are secondary to the oxidative stress involved. One reason is that CD38, a protein on the surface of immune cells, needs NAD+ to function and ward off foreign invaders — during inflammation, CD38 function increases and contributes to the depletion of NAD+. Many people with mold toxicity, Lyme disease, or other conditions associated with CIRS also suffer from neuroinflammation in the brain, which is fueled by depleted levels of NAD+.
If you are facing any of the above conditions, the best things you can do are reduce and eliminate unhealthy habits and increase healthier ones. Eating the right foods in healthy amounts, sleeping well at night, avoiding alcohol, and removing or avoiding sources of environmental toxins like mold are great first steps.
To further improve your NAD+ levels during times of illness or stress, or simply to feel your best as you age, infusing supplemental NAD+ through intravenous (IV) therapy is the most effective way to increase NAD+ in your body. People considering NAD+ infusions should always be evaluated by a trained medical professional. You can also increase NAD+ levels with oral nicotinamide riboside or by nasal or sublingual NAD+.
*Currently, I do not infuse pregnant women with NAD+, as there is not enough data to support its safety at this time. If you are pregnant, sticking to healthy foods, quality sleep, and adequate exercise are critical to maintaining NAD+ levels.