Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide, or NADH for short, is the active form of Niacin. Supplementation with NADH supposedly has the benefits of improved energy production from food, better mental alertness and memory, prevention of jet lag, and improved athletic performance with faster recovery time. A study published in the Journal of Sports Sciencesn examined the effects of NADH supplementation on high intensity running performance as well as mental performance to see if NADH lives up to its claims in these areas.
8 men participated in the study. The men took either 30 mg NADH supplement daily or a placebo for a 4 week period. After a 2-week period of no supplementation at all the participants traded groups and repeated the process, so that at the end of the trials all participants had used both the NADH and placebo at some point. No significant change was found in the measured variables which included VO2 max, maximum “anaerobic” running time, subjective fatigue, blood lactate levels, creatine kinase (an indicator of muscle damage), reaction time, and ability to concentrate.
While there was no changes observed in the measured variables, one criticism that I have of this study is the dosage used. It has been said that at too high of a dose, one may lose the positive benefits of NADH supplementation and that they may even develop negative side effects. A dose of 2.5 mg to 10 mg daily is much more typical than 30 mg, so perhaps at a lower dose a difference would have been seen between the two groups. Still, regardless of possibly using too high of a dose I would expect to see some difference between the placebo group and the NADH group, and this study still gives evidence against the effectiveness of NADH for improving athletic and cognitive performance.
Mero A, Raitanen R, Birkmayer J, & Komi P. (2008). Effects of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide hydride on physical and mental performance. Journal of Sports Sciences. 26(3), 311-9.
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