NAD+ and UV exposure – why sun protection is more than skin deep

NAD+ and UV exposure – why sun protection is more than skin deep

NAD+ and UV exposure – why sun protection is more than skin deep

NAD+ and UV exposure – why sun protection is more than skin deep
Mild amounts of sunlight are important for your wellbeing. But as we all know, too much can be harmful to your health. Replenishing NAD+ levels is one way to help your body bounce back from catching too many rays.
It’s a pristine summer day. The sun beams bright in a blue sky. A warm breeze carries a holiday scent of salty ocean or fresh cut grass or food grilling on a BBQ. You’re drawn outside to enjoy the day… But soon enough, a familiar sting tells you you’ve been in the sun a little too long.

It’s so easy to be caught out by the sun’s rays. That pleasant warming sensation by the pool our out on a stroll can turn painful and uncomfortable a few hours later. And it’s not just your skin that ends up needing renewal and repair. Inside your body a complex balance of molecules that controls the building blocks of your health – your cells – also suffers the effects of UV damage.

What is UV damage?

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a type of energy produced by the sun (as well as some man-made sources like tanning beds and welding torches). It’s UV radiation, not sunlight itself, that can be harmful.

You can see the sun’s light, and you can feel its heat. But you can’t see or feel UV radiation. Your senses can’t detect it, so you won’t notice any damage until it has been done. UV reaches you directly from the sun’s rays, but it also bounces off surfaces like water or snow, which is why it’s so easy get sunburnt at the beach or on the ski slopes.

Despite the risks of UV, mild amounts of sunlight can be good for your health. Especially morning sunlight as UV rays aren’t as intense as in the middle of the day. Sunlight gives you energy and helps you sleep. It also sparks vitamin D production and increases serotonin levels, which can boost your mood and help decrease depression and anxiety.

For many of us though, the benefits of sunlight are often erased by overexposure. Too much UV causes sunburn, tanning (which, despite its fashionable image, is actually skin cells in trauma), premature skin aging and eye damage. Most skin cancer is caused by UV rays damaging the DNA in skin cells.

NAD+ and UV exposure

We all know the discomfort sunburn brings. Glowing red skin that makes the lightest touch feel like sandpaper. Cold shivers while burning up. Peeling. The outward signs of UV damage can be obvious to the point of embarrassment, not to mention painful.

But the stress on your body extends to the inside, too.

UV radiation causes cell damage or death by changing the structure of DNA and proteins. This disrupts important cellular energy processes and triggers pathways in your body that use up your NAD+. Your cells face an uphill battle to perform vital functions like energy production and repair1. When your cells cannot repair themselves, damaging reactions such as those involved in the aging process begin2.

Essential NAD+

“Your cells absolutely need NAD+ to function and survive,” says Eric Verdin MD, President of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and Elevant’s Chief Scientist. “Many of your body’s key repair systems – repairing DNA, repairing proteins that keep your body in balance – depend on nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+).”

“We know that NAD+ levels fall as we go through life,” says Dr. Verdin. “Drops in NAD+ are linked to chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, heart attacks, type 2 diabetes, the loss of muscle mass, even some forms of cancer. They are also linked to other diseases such as macular degeneration and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Reductions in NAD+ are thought to be one of the reasons why age in the first place.”

A microscopic tug-of-war

Similar to what Dr. Verdin describes as happening when we age, UV rays from the sun can also cause NAD+ depletion.

Scientists have shown that UV damage activates both NAD+ creation and consumption3. It’s a tug of war that determines the survival or dysfunction of human skin cells and can impact your overall health.

When your body detects UV damage it draws from your NAD+ bank to repair it. At the same time, UV damage also prompts the activation of NAD+ producing enzymes to create more NAD+ to restore your NAD+ balance. If NAD+ synthesis can’t keep up – which happens when you don’t have enough ingredients to make the NAD+ your body needs to fix the damage – your overall NAD+ levels are drained, which can lead to severe NAD+ shortages3.

How can NMN help?

Avoiding risk factors that accelerate drops in NAD+, such as UV damage, is an easy way to support the foundations of your health and age better.

But despite our best efforts, we often catch more sun than is good for us. This is where regular supplementation with a natural molecule called NMN can help.

Nicotinamide mononucleotide (or NMN) is the final step in the biological pathway your body uses to make NAD+. Supplementing with NMN increases the amount of NMN available for your body to create NAD+ to fuel hundreds of processes that enable you to survive and thrive.

When it comes to sun exposure, research shows that supplementing UV-damaged cells with NMN restores cell energy production. This indicates that this NAD+-boosting molecule may help to maintain balanced NAD+ levels during UV damage and skin aging3.

Research also shows that pretreating with a molecule known to boost NAD+ protects human skin cells from some forms of UV damage by enhancing DNA repair, blocking local inflammation and regulating other harmful processes4. By delivering these benefits, taking vitamin B3 – of which NMN is one – can help your skin better defend against the sun’s rays, likely lowering the risk of developing skin cancer4.*

Boosting NAD+ with NMN

Whether you’ve been exposed to the sun recently or not, your body is constantly using NAD+. Supplementing with NMN can help to keep your NAD+ levels topped up, helping to offset reductions as you age.

The short and long-term benefits of daily NMN supplementing have been shown in several clinical and preclinical studies. Replenishing NAD+ with NMN has been demonstrated to support bodywide health and energy creation5, and to help counter processes which can lead to age-associated diseases6.

Maintaining NAD+ levels can help your body cope well when it faces stress like UV damage. Ready reserves of NAD+ can avoid exhausting the supply needed for other important functions while your body is performing repairs.

The best solution – protect yourself

When the sun is shining and the call of the outdoors is too loud to ignore, there are a few things you can do to avoid damaging UV exposure.

•    If you're catching some sun for some much-needed vitamin D, don't expose bare skin longer than five to 30 minutes (depending on the shade of your skin).
•    Choose your time wisely. UV damage is most likely when the sun’s rays are more direct – usually between about 10am to 3pm.
•    When you’re outside, cover exposed skin with loose-fitting, lightweight, breathable clothing. Don’t forget sunglasses and a broad-brim hat.
•    Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF value of at least 15+, and reapply every two hours.

By combining the above steps with a daily NAD+-boosting routine using scientifically-backed NMN supplements like Elevant Prime and Optima, you’re well on the way to supporting your best health inside and out – no matter the weather.


1.    Jacobson EL, Giacomoni PU, Roberts MJ, Wondrak GT, Jacobson MK. Optimizing the energy status of skin cells during solar radiation. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2001 Oct;63(1-3):141-7. doi:10.1016/s1011-1344(01)00211-1. PMID: 11684461.

2.    Xi. Covarrubias AJ, Perrone R, Grozio A, Verdin E. NAD+ metabolism and its roles in cellular processes during ageing. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2021;22(2):119-141. doi:10.1038/s41580-020-00313-x.

3.    Katayoshi T, Nakajo T, Tsuji-Naito K. Restoring NAD+ by NAMPT is essential for the SIRT1/p53-mediated survival of UVA- and UVB-irradiated epidermal keratinocytes. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2021 Aug;221:112238. doi:10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2021.112238. Epub 2021 Jun 12. PMID: 34130091.

4.    Camillo L, Gironi LC, Esposto E, Zavattaro E, Savoia P. The role of Nicotinamide in photoprotection of Human Primary Keratinocytes from oxidative stress damages UV-induced. Accessed 20 August, 2021. <>

5.    Hong W, Mo F, Zhang Z, Huang M, Wei X. Nicotinamide Mononucleotide: A Promising Molecule for Therapy of Diverse Diseases by Targeting NAD+ Metabolism. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020;8:246. doi:10.3389/fcell.2020.0024.

6.    Covarrubias AJ, Perrone R, Grozio A, Verdin E. NAD+ metabolism and its roles in cellular processes during ageing. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2021;22(2):119-141. doi:10.1038/s41580-020-00313-x.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.