What is NAD+?
NAD+ stands for Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. NAD+, is a “helper molecule or coenzyme” that is present in every cell in the body. This coenzyme is critical to the chemical mechanisms and biological processes that our bodies use to produce energy.
NAD+ is a vital coenzyme that is essential for the production of energy in the body. It is a component pivotal regulation of cellular processes within the body.
NAD+ Is Critical
Here is how NAD+ works. Cells in the Adenotriphosphate electron transport chain and mitochondria produce energy by converting Adenosine diphosphate (ADP) to adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This energy production process needs electrons to perform. Guess where mitochondria source electrons from? Right from NAD+.
Because NAD+ plays a critical role in energy production, it has numerous health benefits. NAD+ improves physical performance, a biological system that protects against invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, and foreign bodies, and cognitive function. People take NAD+ to reverse aging, regulate blood pressure, and bring down cholesterol.
Medical practitioners use NAD+ to manage the conditions of patients with multiple diagnoses like Alzheimer’s, depression and Parkinson’s.
Research also shows that NAD+ supplementation is effective in managing the following conditions:
- Heart disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Brain damage caused by injury
- Cardiac damage caused by stroke
- Prevents liver damage
NAD+ has a direct link to overall health and quality of life.
Understanding how to increase NAD+, and the causes and effects of low levels, gives us an opportunity to improve our physical and mental health.
What Does NAD+ Do?
First, it turns nutrients into Adeno triphosphate (ATP – the energy currency of each cell). Second, it works with proteins to carry out vital biological processes such as:
- DNA repair
- Participation in mitochondrial function
- Regulates energy metabolism
- Gene expression
- Epigenetic modifications via chromatin-modifying enzymes
- Post-translational modifications
- Calcium signaling
- Maintaining chromosomal integrity
NAD+ Decreases With Age
NAD+ levels steadily decline as we age, resulting in loss of sirtuin protein and PARP (poly ADP ribose polymerase) activity. This depletion plays a critical role in the aging process.
Some of the proteins that regulate cellular health are called ‘sirtuins’. These proteins are responsible for cellular resistance to stressful conditions and aging. To function properly, sirtuins (proteins) need NAD+, and it needs to be continually synthesized by our bodies. Herein lies the dilemma. Our bodies produce less and less NAD+ as we age.
We Are Just Beginning to Understand Its Importance
NAD+ has emerged as a powerful enzyme that is responsible for regulating vital cellular processes. In 1906 NAD+ was first discovered by scientists, and since then its significance and importance has continued to evolve.
NAD+ has become an interesting molecule in scientific research because of its growing effectiveness in alleviating all causes of mortality, promoting healthy aging and extending healthy lifespan.
The scientific community is exploring NAD+ boosters to replenish the levels in humans that decline as we age. The recent establishments regarding NAD+ benefits investigated on animal models continue to inspire researchers to translate these findings to humans. Scientists and researchers continue to investigate NAD+ boosters to get more naturally or through supplementation.
Scientists suggest that slumping levels of NAD+ are associated with the aging process and age-related issues. Researchers suspect that restoring NAD+ levels has heaps of health benefits, and preclinical research supports this idea. Several research studies have proved that NAD+ levels could be replenished with sustained results over an eight-week period.
Benefits of NAD+
NAD+ offers a myriad of benefits. It is a naturally occurring molecule already present within every cell of the body. Some of the more obvious uses may include healthy and clean skin, thicker healthy hair and nails, treatment of jet lag, boost energy, promote brain health, and may promote healthy muscle aging.
Activates Enzymes That May Promote Healthy Aging
NAD+ serves as an anti-aging agent. Vascular aging – dying, declining and withering of our tiniest blood vessels, decreases the flow of blood to our vital tissues and organs. This alleviated flow of blood results in several diseases.
Research reports that NAD+ serves as a vital cofactor in all living cells that are involved in fundamental metabolic processes. Nicotinamide riboside helps boost declining NAD+ levels in the body.
In response, NAD+ activates certain enzymes that may promote healthy aging.
One such enzyme is proteins that regulate cellular health termed as sirtuins, which appear to enhance the lifespan and improve overall health in animals. Studies indicate that sirtuins (proteins) may repair damaged DNA, boost stress resistance, alleviate inflammation and offer other advantages that encourage healthy aging. Sirtuins are also responsible for the lifespan-extending benefits of dietary regimen that decreases food intake without incurring malnutrition (calorie restriction).
Offers Protection to the Brain
NAD+ metabolism helps to safeguard the central nervous system by protecting the brain nerve cells. NAD+ also delays axonal degeneration and this, in turn, preserves the cells. Alzheimer’s disease patients have shown enhanced cognitive function and alleviated progression of the diseases within 3 months of using NAD+.
Helps to Fight Cancer
NAD+ can help reduce the growth of cancerous tumors. By taking NAD+ supplements, the body is safeguarded against oxidative damage; the imbalance between the production of free radicals and the antioxidant system, and cancer progression.
Good for the Liver
Taking NAD+ orally either as a supplement or in food helps to keep the liver healthy. It stops the buildup of fat, decreases oxidative stress, and improves insulin sensitivity.
Helps You Sleep and Eat at the Right Time
NAD+ plays a significant role in sleep cycles and hunger patterns. Circadian rhythm, the cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals, are reliant largely on light and dark, determines when we feel tired, when we feel awake when we feel hungry — in general terms, it determines the flow of our day.
A healthy sleep/wake cycle, sirtuins and NAD+ are all interconnected. Sirtuins depend on NAD+ to perform properly. Circadian rhythm determines when NAD+ is available. If either sirtuins or NAD+ gets disrupted, our sleep/wake cycle goes haywire. Researchers demonstrated this by disrupting the circadian rhythm in mice by suppressing a specific sirtuin, which depends on NAD+ to do its thing.
Keeps the Ears Healthy
NAD+ prevents deafness caused by noise. It is effective in the decrease of degeneration of nerve cells and so even if one is exposed to a lot of noise, the ears will not be affected.
NAD+ increases energy in the body, and in turn enhances metabolism. Due to the increase of enzymes used in burning fat, NAD+ helps in weight loss. By using NAD+ supplements or a diet rich in this supplement, we can prolong our life. Research shows that supplementation keeps the muscles strong. With NAD+, the need to combat bad and unhealthy fat diminishes and it also slows the progression of some diseases.
Improves Muscle Function
NAD+ plays a significant role in restoring and preserving muscle mass. A research study done on mice shows that restoring and topping up NAD helps improve mitochondrial function in degenerating muscles and keeps muscles healthy and strong in mouse models of muscular dystrophy.
Benefits to the Central Nervous System
Diet and nutrition play a critical role in the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases, and potentially their amelioration. Several studies suggest that NAD+ is implicated in the complex neuronal process that integrates many signals to steer morphological, electrophysiological, and transcriptional changes.
Modifications in nicotinamide levels have been linked with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.
NAD+ supplementation in animal models (mice) has shown improvement in progressive atrophy and loss of function of neurons and associated behavioral recovery. Equally, there is evidence of nicotinamide being used as a restorative ingredient in animal models of ischemia (restriction in blood supply to tissues) and neuronal injury affecting neuronal circuitry. With this in mind, boosting neuronal health through NAD+ supplementation appears an exciting and accomplishable prospect.
NAD+ is generally recognized as safe with minimal side effects.
NAD+ is generally safe, efficacious and well-tolerated. Some people experience headaches, indigestion, stomach discomfort, nausea, fatigue, diarrhea. However, its effectiveness, benefits and long-term effects in humans are still being researched.
The Bottom Line
Nicotinamide riboside (or niagen) is an alternative and pyridine-nucleoside form of niacin aka vitamin B3 with mild to moderate side effects. It is a precursor to NAD+ and is commonly marketed as an anti-aging supplement. The body converts it into NAD+, which fuels all of our cells. While NAD+ levels decline naturally with age, fueling NAD+ levels may reverse several signs of aging.
However, most research on nicotinamide riboside and NAD+ is in animals. More high-quality and intense human studies are required before recommending this treatment.
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