This article is copyright © Nils Osmar 2019.
NAD levels are high in our bodies when we’re young, and decline precipitously as we get older. NAD is essential to the functioning of our mitochondria. So many people are experimenting with raising their NAD levels to see if it might add some healthy years or decades to their lives.
For those wanting to boost their NAD levels inexpensively, one little known NAD booster is APIGENIN, found in many foods. (At least one company is selling a NAD-boosting supplement which includes dried parsley as a key ingredient, and claiming that their product boosts NAD more than twice as much as other popular products such as NR and NMN.)
HOW APIGENIN WORKS
- Some NAD boosters (including NR, NMN, Niacin, and Niacinamide) work by providing the body with the components needed to make NAD.
- By contrast, apigenin works by lowering our levels of CD38, and enzyme which degrades NAD in the body. (CD38 enzymes tend to build up in the body as we’re getting older, and are likely one of the reasons we have such low NAD levels in our later years.)
- So one strategy for those wanting to explore the benefits of higher NAD levels may be to first raise their NAD levels by taking NMN, NR or Nicotinic acid — or by doing things such as exercise, fasting or cold showers which also raise NAD — then take a source of apigenin to keep the NAD being produced from being degraded by CD38.
- In addition to keeping NAD levels high, apigenin has also been shown to be anti-carcinogenic, and appears to be effective in slowing the spread of some types of cancer, including breast and prostate cancer. See article.
- It is also an effective anti-inflammatory. See article.
SOURCES OF APIGENIN
DRIED PARSLEY is the richest natural source of apigenin; it has 137.7 mg per gram, or 13,770 mg per 100 grams, according to this study.
It is about 12 times higher in apigenin than fresh parsley, which has around 13-15 mg per gram.
Using the dry weight estimate of 4.2 grams equalling a teaspoon, one teaspoon of organic DRIED parsley would give you 575 mg of apigenin. Fresh parsley would just give you about 59 mg.
You can buy apigenin as a supplement. It’s very affordable, about 10 cents for a 50-mg capsule. But it’s far more economical to just use dried parsley, which has 575 mg. in a single teaspoon, for the same price.
There is also some apigenin in other plant products, including cilantro, celery, grapefruit, and chamomile tea.
HEAT DESTROYS APIGENIN
If you’re cooking with parsley as a strategy for optimizing your apigenin levels — don’t overcook it. Lower the heat, then add the parsley in the last minute or so of cooking, since apigenin is destroyed by heat.
For those looking for a beverage the provides lots of APIGENIN, one possibility would be making your own parsley tea. (Just steep parsley in hot water for a few minutes, then strain and drink). (Don’t use boiling water, though, or you’ll destroy the apigenin.)
Another option, if you don’t want to do your own juicing, is to buy a drink such as SUJA ORGANIC UBER GREENS JUICE. I don’t usually recommend or use bottled juices, but this one has a number of ingredients that are high in apigenin, including celery, grapefruit and parsley. (It’s also rich in other phytonutrients.)
It tastes… intense. About like you’d expect, with all that raw chard and kale and spinach in it.
To increase the apigenin levels, I’ve also been adding a tablespoon of parsley to each bottle before drinking it. I also add in a little Redmond Real Salt to make it more palatable (and increase the healthy mineral content).
- One drawback is that kale, in its raw form, is goitrogenic, and can be damaging to the thyroid. So you wouldn’t want to live on it. But having a glass of greens juice now and then is an easy way of adding a bunch of phytonutrients to the diet, for those who are not trying to stick to carnivore diets.
- The full list of ingredients (from Suja’s website) is: Organic Cucumber Juice, Organic Celery Juice, Organic Grapefruit Juice, Organic Green Chard Juice, Organic Green Leaf Lettuce Juice, Organic Lemon Juice, Organic Kale Juice, Organic Spinach Juice, Organic Parsley Juice, Organic Tea (Purified Water, Organic Peppermint Tea Leaf, Organic Spearmint Tea Leaf).
This is purely anecdotal, but as I was typing this I remembered that I had noticed years ago that I could remedy the effects of eating a high-sugar meal (such as a piece of cake or dish of ice cream) by eating a large amount of parsley right afterwards.
When I didn’t eat parsley, I’d get a burst of energy after eating the sugar, feel hyped up for a few minutes, then “crash,” probably because of a strong insulin response. I’d sometimes have to lie down for a few hours to recover.
Eating parsley after a sugary meal would level out my blood glucose, prevent the “crash,” and I could skip the afternoon nap. I learned later that I felt better and functioned better if I cut sugar entirely out of my diet.
More recently, I’ve noticed that if I drink a glass of juice fortified with dried parsley, then eat a bunch of fresh parsley, my eyesight will seem sharper for about a half hour afterwards.
HOW MUCH TO EAT OR DRINK?
I’m currently taking 2 teaspoons of dried parsley a day, along with 500 mg of NMN and 500 mg of resveratrol. (When I make scrambled eggs, I lower the heat, add dried parsley, and cook for one more minute.) (When I’m not having eggs, I mix two teaspoons in a small glass of organic tomato juice or green juice and drink.)
One teaspoon has 575 mg of apigenin (according to the figures in the study cited above). So I should be getting a little over a gram of apigenin. There’s no way of knowing whether this is an ideal dose. It’s an N=1 experiment. I’m experimenting on myself since parsley is GRAS (generally recognized as safe). I am not recommending that anyone else take this much, or even eat parsley at all – just reporting what I’m doing, and my rationale.
NOTES AND CAVEATS
- Like many plant based products (including resveratrol and curcumin) apigenin is somewhat toxic, triggering a hormetic response in the body. This is what gives it its benefits. But as such, it’s possible that large doses of apigenin could be toxic. (It appears to be in mice). See this article.
- Women of childbearing age may want to be aware of a possible connection between parsley and ending pregnancies (see link below).
- More about parsley and blood sugar
- A good article about apigenin
- Benefits of parsley and parsley tea
- Can parsley cause miscarriages (or be used deliberately to end pregnancies)?