May 2019

Chasing youth: NAD boosters

The hunt for the fountain of youth isn’t new. More and more purported anti-aging products continue to pop up in the supplement market. NAD boosters are one relatively new class of anti-aging supplements that are creating significant hype and some controversy. Specifically, two supplement companies are feuding over NAD boosters. So, what are these, and do they actually work?

NAD boosters are supplements that contain nicotinamide riboside, a form of vitamin B3. When taken as a supplement, the body converts nicotinamide riboside to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). NAD+ is a coenzyme involved in numerous cell processes. As we age, the NAD+ levels in our body decline. Lower levels of NAD+ are thought to impair biological functions important to health, which might contribute to age-related diseases. It’s believed that increasing NAD+ through supplementation may improve symptoms and/or delay these conditions. Two NAD boosters that are rapidly growing in popularity are Basis by Elysium Health and Tru Niagen by ChromaDex.

But do these supplements slow aging? The jury’s still out. Basis, which contains pterostilbene in addition to nicotinamide riboside, has not been evaluated in published clinical research for treating any condition. Niagin, the active ingredient in Tru Niagen, has been evaluated in preliminary clinical research but not as an anti-aging supplement.

If your patients ask about these products, tell them that it’s just too soon to know if they help prevent any age-related diseases or conditions. Plus, we don’t really know if these supplements are safe when taken long-term. And both of these products are expensive. A 30-day supply can cost as much as $60 and $40 for Basis and Tru Niagen, respectively. For that amount of money, patients might be better off getting a monthly gym membership. Exercise has been linked to many health benefits in aging populations.

Tell your patients that there’s no magic pill to stop aging. If they really want to age gracefully and remain healthy, their best bet is to stick to a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get proper sleep.

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