Research around NAD+’s role with aging continues to receive widespread attention in the scientific community.
For example, a team of researchers in New South Wales suggests low levels of NAD+ are linked to mitochondrial inefficiency, one of the nine hallmarks of aging.
NAD+ is a vital coenzyme that functions mainly in the mitochondria of our cells. It declines as we age, reaching a pivotal downward trend between the ages of 40 and 60, according to the same New South Wales study.
Although natural methods, like caloric restriction and moderate exercise, can increase your NAD+ levels, supplements have proven to be an easy way to replenish the necessary nutrients for maintaining NAD+. However, lately, NAD+ IV therapy has received a lot of buzz as a new way to boost this critical molecule.
Growing in popularity with wellness blogs and podcasts, you may have heard about IV treatments being provided at trendy wellness spas that feature vitamin infusions. These types of therapies claim to boost immunity, cure hangovers, detox the body, and promote youthful qualities.
IV therapies, or intravenous therapies, administer nutrients through a vein using a standard saline solution.
These treatments usually happen in clinics, wellness spas, or via at-home service where customers opt for monthly or even weekly IV sessions.
Unlike most NAD+ boosting supplements that use precursor ingredients like nicotinamide riboside or niacin, IV therapy sessions typically use NAD+ as the direct delivery.
NAD+ IV sessions cost around $600 for up to 60 minutes of treatment. The course of the therapy ranges anywhere from six to eight weeks, and some providers even offer packages of sessions, much like physical training packages at gyms.
While it depends on the length of treatment and the location, a full course of treatment might cost up to $15,000 over the span of a year.
The market for NAD+ IV therapy uses heavy language around longevity and anti-aging. Services target people experiencing fatigue, cognitive decline, chronic pain, and sleep disruption. The promise they deliver is that the therapy will help you feel “young and rejuvenated.”
In more bold cases, these IV therapy clinics claim that NAD+ IV treatment may provide relief or lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune diseases.
Overall, the language is largely exaggerated and is absent of adequate substantiation. The few that provide a scientific basis usually reference a pre-clinical trial (studies on animal subjects) or a study that uses oral supplementation of NAD+ or an NAD+ precursor. The differences in intake and ingredients are quite important as the science differs depending on these factors.
Providers of NAD+ IV therapy claim that an intravenous solution is more effective because it bypasses the digestive system, allowing your body to feel the effects quicker.
Many wellness clinics and doctors cite a Harvard Medical School study that states NAD+ IV therapy has a proven 87% success rate. However, the study speaks only about the use of NAD+ precursors, not the actual use of intravenous administration for NAD+.
Broadly speaking, the effectiveness of direct NAD+ supplementation is in question. NAD+ is a large, phosphorylated molecule, and it can not directly permeate the cell wall.
A published study from the Journal of Biological Chemistry shows that your body breaks NAD+ down into smaller precursors before absorbing it into the cell. Once through, your cells convert the precursors back to NAD+.
This arduous process denotes direct NAD+ supplementation, whether through intravenous methods or oral-administration, may not be the best solution to elevating NAD+ levels.
NPR also notes these NAD+ IV treatments often contain other nutritional supplements, like amino acids mixed with NAD+, so it’s difficult to attribute the success of the therapies to NAD+ alone.
Put simply; the scientific community just doesn't know enough about NAD+ IV therapy to make conclusive recommendations.
The most interesting claim surrounding NAD+ IV therapy is its supposed benefit for treating alcohol and drug addiction patients.
NAD+’s benefits to addiction patients are illustrated deeply in works like Paul Norris Mestayer’s, Addiction the Dark Night of the Soul, NAD+ the Light of Hope. However, most of this evidence is anecdotal with no use or basis in the scientific method.
Testimonies of NAD+ IV therapies in patients claim that it can curb cravings and lower the instances of hallucinations. Clinics market the treatment armed with similar stories.
Unfortunately, unfounded claims like these are nothing new. NPR notes, “Unsubstantiated claims have long been a part of addiction treatment. For instance, in the late 19th century, a doctor dubbed his formula the "Double Chloride of Gold Cure" and sold it via mail order for addiction, claiming a 95% cure rate.”
The science behind NAD+ is progressing rather fervently, but so is the fanfare around it. While NAD+ IV therapy has some interesting anecdotal evidence, it's difficult to support its methodology without concrete science.
The conversation around elevating NAD+ in connection with aging is serious and by no means a farce, but it's important for us to check for the following things when it comes to products or services that claim to elevate NAD+:
What’s the active ingredient? Some may use precursors. Some may use direct NAD+. Your experience will be heavily impacted by the kind of ingredient used in your regimen. We outline those differences here.
Where is the product sourced? For example, not all nicotinamide riboside ingredients are the same. Does the product contain the patented form or an unverified 3rd party?
Check for the clinical studies. We provide an important checklist of things you should review here when reviewing a supplement’s clinical research.
Where is the product manufactured? Is it cGMP certified? Are there any other safety certifications?
Has the ingredient been reviewed by a pertinent regulatory authority?
When in doubt, follow the science. Look for published studies and check out the ingredient on www.clinicaltrials.gov. Each study should give an adequate description of the product being tested in their trials.
It’s your right to be informed of the products you put into your body. After all, your health is an investment. And a little research and know-how can go a long way.