3 white vitamin pills on yellow background

What Is The Difference Between NAD, NAD+, And NADH?

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is an essential cofactor and coenzyme that participates in crucial biochemical processes in the body. Scientists believe its functions are linked to the aging process and that a decline in NAD levels can be the reason our bodies age.

NAD therapy replenishes the amount of NAD in the body, slowing down the aging process and providing cells with the materials they need to operate at a youthful level. The resulting benefits of NAD therapy are manifold, including mood improvement, increased energy, improved mental clarity, and better memory and concentration. Beyond NAD’s visible effects, what happens at a cellular level, and what is the difference between NAD, NAD+ and NADH?

The oxidation and reduction process

The body generates energy through the transfer of electrons, which is also the basis of all chemical reactions. When electrons change hands, it creates different molecules while generating energy in a process called oxidation and reduction.

Think of oxidation and reduction as an exchange of batteries. One molecule has batteries that another molecule needs. But they need an intermediary to help them swap batteries. In this case, cofactors like NAD step in.

However, the role of oxidation-reduction extends beyond just power generation. In some cases, the process can help ‘disarm’ free radicals (charged molecules that can harm the cell) or modulate cellular and metabolic signaling pathways.

With this basic understanding of the oxidation and reduction process, here’s how NAD fits into the picture.


NAD is the general name used to describe all types of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. It is a catch-all term used when referring to NAD, NAD+ or NADH.

However, although this may be the case for general references, most scientific references will strictly use NAD+ or NADH because each term describes the actual molecule under reference.

NAD+ is the oxidized form of NAD and is the precursor to most chemical reactions involving NAD.

What does oxidized mean?

An oxidized molecule has a chemical structure that can accept electrons from another molecule. NAD+, therefore, has a chemical structure that can accept electrons from other molecules, helping catalyze reactions in multiple biological processes.

During NAD IV therapy, NAD+ is administered because it is the biologically functional form that has catalytic properties. When it gets into the bloodstream, cells can immediately use this form of NAD to power their various processes.

However, once NAD+ has accepted electrons, its state changes, becoming a reduced form of NAD that is called NADH.


NADH stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) + hydrogen (H). As the name suggests, it is a NAD molecule that has accepted electrons (in this case, through hydrogen atoms), becoming the reduced form of NAD.

What does reduction mean?

A reduced molecule has a chemical structure that has accepted extra electrons from another molecule. NADH, therefore, has a chemical structure that has accepted two hydrogen atoms (with its electrons), completing the catalytic oxidation-reduction process of NAD.

The NAD+ NADH cycle

Combining the two processes creates the NAD+/NADH oxidation-reduction chain.

Here’s how the process works:

NAD+ enters the cell or organelle (like mitochondria), accepts electrons in the form of hydrogen atoms from NADH (remember it has some extra electrons to donate), and becomes NADH. Meanwhile, the NADH that donated electrons becomes NAD+, and the process repeats itself.

NAD+ and NADH are simply different forms of NAD, one with extra electrons and one without, and they pass these electrons back and forth between themselves as a catalytic chain reaction.

This coupled reaction explains why, when NAD+ levels fall, the entire chain reaction starts to fail. Similarly, replenishing NAD+ levels via IV infusion helps restore these reactions to optimum levels.

Oral NAD vs. IV NAD

The details above demonstrate the importance of maintaining optimum levels of NAD+ in the body. Taking NAD via oral supplements and IV does increase NAD+ levels, but not equally. Here’s why.

When you take oral NAD supplements, the NAD must pass through your gut and find its way to your bloodstream and then to the cells that need it. Along the way, a significant amount of NAD is lost due to issues like gut absorption, gut emptying rate, cardiovascular health, and others.

On the other hand, receiving a NAD IV infusion bypasses all these hurdles, delivering NAD to your bloodstream, an expressway to your cells that guarantees 100% absorption.

Schedule In-Home NAD+ IV Therapy Today

NAD+ IV therapy replenishes NAD back to natural, youthful levels so your cells can operate at an optimum level. Drip Hydration, a licensed IV therapy provider in many cities around the world, offers convenient in-home or in-office NAD+ IV therapy infusions. Our qualified nurse practitioners come to you with all the equipment required and administer your IV infusion in the comfort of your home or office.

Find out more about NAD+ IV infusion, its benefits, and how to book a session by giving us a call or clicking the link below!