Dr. Yang Waikiki Discusses How NAD Vitamin Supplements Can Help Alzheimer’s Patients

Dr. Yang Waikiki Hawaii

May 14, 2021

Dr. Yang Waikiki

As a primary care doctor, Dr. Yang Waikiki sees many patients who worry about memory loss or dementia that is most commonly caused by Alzheimer’s disease. As a doctor who desires to integrate traditional with alternative medicine whenever possible, Dr. Yang has researched NAD vitamins that can help treat or even prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

What Is NAD? Primary Care Physician Dr. Yang Waikiki Explains NAD

Nicotinamide riboside is a form of vitamin B3, commonly referred to as niacin. When you take niacin or other B3 vitamins, your body converts them into nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). NAD is a coenzyme that is critical in facilitating many different chemical reactions that are involved in the energy metabolism inside each and every cell of our body.  The energy metabolism is made up of several major series of chemical reactions such as glycolysis, citric acid cycle, and electron transport system that occur inside each and every cell and convert food and oxygen into small packets of energy or “cellular energy currency” called ATP (adenosine triphosphate).  Then, the cells use these ATPs to carry out other chemical reactions and rebuild structures that are essential for their types.  For example, heart muscle cells need ATP to maintain and contract the muscle fiber proteins. Likewise, nerve cells (neurons) need ATP to send electrochemical signals and immune cells also need ATP to fight off infections.

Although NAD is a naturally occurring and reusable molecule within your body, NAD levels tend to fall as you age. The most current research suggests that almost 50% of the original NAD levels are depleted starting from the age of 40.   NAD deficiency has been linked to numerous disease processes such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, immunodeficiency, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Where Can You Find NAD?

You can increase your levels of NAD by taking nicotinamide riboside supplements like niacin.  There are also naturally occurring trace amounts of NAD or its precursor found in beer, cow’s milk, and yeast. However, it is practically impossible to intake enough NAD from these food sources because the amounts are just too small, says Dr. Yang Waikiki specialist. Thus, the best way to increase your NAD levels is to take artificial vitamin supplements.

How Does NAD Help Fight Alzheimer’s?

NAD+ helps reinforce and strengthen your cells, including your brain cells, says Dr. Yang Waikiki. Specifically, the molecule can increase your brain’s PGC-1-alpha production. PGC-1-alpha is a protein that helps to protect your brain cells from oxidative stress, that causes degeneration or death of brain cells.   Classic findings in the Alzheimer’s brain caused by the oxidative stress are tau proteins and neurofibrillary tangles, which are used for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Other Benefits of NAD

NA+ is also believed to be helpful in fighting many aspects of aging or disease processes. According to research, nicotinamide riboside may also speed up the energy metabolism in the combustion or “burning” of carbohydrates and fat in the peripheral fat cells and thus can help to control weight. 

It may also lower your risk of cancer, says Dr. Yang Waikiki. NAD protects your cells from oxidative stress and impaired mitochondrial function, both of which are associated with the development of cancer cells.

Finally, NAD helps to control your circadian rhythm, which is crucial in sleep and wake cycle.  Therefore, NAD may help with insomnia, jet lag, and other sleep disorders.

Side Effects of NAD Supplements

NAD supplements are overall very safe to take with very few or no side effects. Like many other vitamins or medications, NAD does not upset the stomach.  NAD may cause increased somnolence and dreaming (not nightmares).

While the supplements do currently appear to be safe, it’s important to note that the long-term effects on humans are still unknown. More clinical research studies on humans are needed to determine the efficacy and safety of long-term treatment with NAD supplements.