What Is It?
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NADH, is a coenzyme made from Vitamin B3, or niacin. It’s 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 Parkinson’s 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.
Alzheimer’s Disease – 5 mg twice a day
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – 2.5 mg twice a day for 10 days or one package, then 5 mg
twice a day
Fatigue – 2.5 mg twice a day for 10 days or one package, then 5 mg twice a day
Fibromyalgia – 2.5 mg twice a day for 14 days (or one package, see label), then 5 mg twice a day
Parkinson’s Disease – 5 mg a day, gradually increasing over two weeks to 10 mg twice a day
For product recommendations and orders click here for the Natural Apothecary or call 773-296-6700, ext. 2001.
David Edelberg, MD