Anytime we hear the words “groundbreaking” and “postpartum recovery” in the same phrase, we’re all ears.  In January, a groundbreaking study was conducted on the effects of vitamin B3 on postpartum recovery, and the results are oh so promising.   In short: this was the first study to measure NAD levels (the central regulators of metabolism—so pretty important) in postpartum lab mice and rats, and the effects of NR supplementation.  NR is a unique, water-soluble form of vitamin B3.

So NAD sounds important—and it is.  Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is a critical coenzyme found in every living cell, as essential to our cells as food, water, and oxygen, enabling our mitochondria to produce ATP- the energy source for our body and brain. And guess what happens to these levels during postpartum?  “We know aging and stressors result in lower NAD levels,” explains Dr. Alyson Dweck, a practicing OBGYN in Westchester County, NY.  “Delivery, postpartum and lactation states surely qualify as stressors, so it follows that NAD would decline at this time.”  

When NAD is low, enter NR.   Mothers fed NR during breastfeeding in the study saw replenished NAD levels in the liver as well as increased NAD levels in the blood, which led to:

  • Increase lactation and change milk content and nursing behavior increases circulating levels of the lactation stimulating hormone prolactin and increases total milk production
  • Increases vitamin B3 levels in milk without changing macronutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrates)
  • Increases amount of time spent nursing
  • Increases milk levels of BDNF, a molecule that supports survival of neurons and encourages growth development of new neurons and synapses

And the good news keeps coming: babies of mothers fed NR showed increased physical and cognitive function into adulthood.  

Now, how to up your vitamin B3?  Dr. Dweck explains, “it must come in supplement form. “Vitamin B3 in the form and amounts used in the study is difficult to obtain through diet—upwards of 1000 glasses of milk,” she says. A standard prenatal vitamin doesn’t contain vitamin B3 in this form or amount.”  As for supplements, NIAGEN® NR is being utilized in at least 25 of the 29 human clinical trials on NR listed on clinicaltrials.gov

Aside from supplementing with B3, Dr. Dweck encourages women to take a whole-body approach to postpartum recovery: “get some sleep, hydrate well, continue prenatal vitamin, maintain or start an exercise program (doctors permission first please), maintain a healthful diet, stay connected with a partner and other adults.”  Preach, Dr. Dweck! 

ALYSSA DWECK, MS, MD, FACOG is a practicing gynecologist in Westchester County, New York and Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. As an author of three books, a Massachusetts General Hospital, Vincent Memorial OB/GYN Service consultant, and accomplished triathlete, Dr. Dweck offers her expertise across various platforms in an effort to destigmatize gynecologic issues and support women’s health across the country. She resides in Westchester County with her husband, their two sons, and their extraordinarily girly English bulldog.