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Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) is an important cofactor, or "assistant," that helps enzymes in the work they do throughout the body. NADH particularly plays a role in the production of energy. It also participates in the production of L-dopa, which the body turns into the important neurotransmitter dopamine.
Based on these basic biochemical facts, NADH has been evaluated as a treatment for jet lag, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, and as a sports supplement. However, only the first of these uses has any meaningful scientific evidence behind it, and even that is highly preliminary.
Two small double-blind, placebo-controlled trials suggest that NADH may be useful for enhancing mental function under conditions of inadequate sleep, such as jet lag . 1 Supplemental NADH has also been proposed as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease , chronic fatigue syndrome , depression , and Parkinson's disease . Additionally, it has additionally been tried as a sports performance enhancer . However, although a few studies have been performed to evaluate these potential uses, 2 3 4 5 6 none were designed in such a way as to produce scientifically meaningful results.
NADH appears to be quite safe when taken at a dosage of 5 mg daily or less. However, formal safety studies have not been completed, and safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.