Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a coenzyme found in every living cell in your body.  The primary function of NAD+ is to help your mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, produce energy for all of your cellular functions. Given that 90% of your body’s energy is made in the mitochondria, the right level of NAD+ is critical for everything from your heart continuing to pump to your immune system effectively fighting off pathogens, like viruses.  NAD+ is also critical for DNA repair and for activating sirtuins, which are proteins that regulate the aging process.  

Unfortunately, our NAD+ levels naturally decline with age.  In fact, NAD+ depletion may play a role in age-related concerns such as chronic inflammation and pain, metabolic imbalances, decreased energy, disrupted sleep, immune dysregulation, declines in mental acuity and an overall breakdown of bodily functions. The good news is that there are ways to increase your levels of NAD+ naturally, both with lifestyle changes and supplementation.  Below are a few of the key ways to increase your NAD+:

Exercise

Exercise is one of the easiest ways to increase your NAD+ levels and boost your overall health and fitness.  Regular workouts require more NAD+ for energy and your body responds by increasing production. Staying physically active contributes to feeling strong in your body as well as slowing down the aging process. 

Limiting damaging sun exposure

While a moderate amount of sun exposure helps increase your levels of Vitamin D, too much time in the sun may prematurely deplete your body’s stores of NAD+.  Excessive sun exposure forces your body to use increased levels of NAD+ to repair cell damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays.  About 20 minutes of time in the sun should support healthy Vitamin D levels without depleting your supply of NAD+. 

Saunas and other heat therapies

Spending time in saunas, hot tubs, heated pools, etc. can help boost your NAD+ levels.  The heat causes your heart to pump faster and use more energy to keep your body cool.  This increased demand for energy triggers the body’s production of NAD+.  Use moderation, as always, when using these modalities.  

Intermittent fasting and ketosis diets

Intermittent fasting is an eating method that involves periods of eating and cycles of fasting.  It has become popular as a method of weight loss as well as a way to slow down the aging process. Intermittent fasting triggers a “shock” to the body which stimulates the production of NAD+.  The newly popular ketosis diet, involving very minimal carbohydrates, has also been shown to increase your levels of NAD+ naturally. 

Food and supplements

Certain foods rich in B vitamins, like salmon, leafy greens, legumes, liver and other organ meats, eggs, milk, yogurt, brewer’s yeast, beef, turkey, fish, oysters, clams and fermented foods, to name a few, provide essentially building blocks to boost NAD+ levels. Supplementation with NAD+ precursors such as nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) and nicotinamide riboside (NR).