Monday, 2 April 2018

What is NAD+ and Why Is It a Hot Topic in Longevity Science?

You may have repeatedly been hearing about NAD+ in health and nutrition circles and, honestly, wondering to yourself what is NAD+?

We’re here to help you understand the importance of NAD+, its functions, its relationship with aging, and why the longevity science community can't stop talking about it.

A guest post by Frank L. Jaksch Jr..

What is NAD+?

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD+, is a coenzyme that can be found in every cell in your body. In a healthy body, all the necessary NAD+ is created by utilizing vitamin B3 (also known as niacin, or nicotinamide).
Why is NAD+ important?

To put it simply, NAD+ is important because it is required for the necessary biological processes that allow life to happen.

By assisting in the transfer of energy from fatty acids and glucose to the mitochondria (the "powerhouses of the cell") which, in turn, convert them to cellular energy, NAD+ plays a pivotal role in your cellular metabolism. Additionally, NAD+ plays a significant role in regulating how quickly your cells age.

Here are some of the other roles that NAD+ plays in the body:

● Unfolded Protein Response - a protein's shape dictates its function and NAD+ makes sure the form is correct

● Liver Health - your liver breaks down fats for energy and keeps your blood sugar balanced (among other things) and requires NAD+

● Sirtuins - a family of proteins that governs longevity in organisms and needs NAD+

● DNA Health - the systems that fix errors in our DNA require NAD+

● Circadian Rhythm - your sleeping cycle (and everything to do with it) requires NAD+

● Calcium Signaling - communication in the cell requires NAD+

● Stem Cell Maintenance - to have healthy stem cells you need NAD+

● Gene Expression - in response to changing conditions (such as nutrition and stress), your genes are always getting turned on and off, which (surprise!) require NAD+
What causes a decline in NAD+?

The levels of NAD+ decline as a result of the aging process, as well as due to a sedentary lifestyle and overeating. When NAD+ levels decline, the number and density of the mitochondria are also reduced which results in less efficiency or potential dysfunction.

The result of declining NAD+ levels can lead to adverse health consequences, including a slower metabolism. In other words, weaker mitochondria suggest the beginning of the end for your body.
What does NAD+ have to do with aging?

Good question! So, in addition to all the other jobs it has, NAD+ activates enzymes called “sirtuins” (SIRT1 and SIRT3), which help control your genes in ways that promote healthy aging.

The higher your NAD+ levels, the better activated your SIRT1 and SIRT3 enzymes are. This means you get to have healthier mitochondria essential to good health for your body. Makes sense?

As your levels of NAD+ decline with aging, this also results in less engaged sirtuins, less healthy mitochondria, and an “older” body (think: less energy, achy joints, poor memory).
Why is it a hot topic in longevity science?

Despite first being discovered over 110 years ago, everyone is currently talking about NAD+ because many significant discoveries have emerged over the past couple of decades.

Recently, NAD+ has become a hot topic in longevity science thanks to an influential study published by David Sinclair, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School. In the study, Sinclair and his colleagues bred mice with a defect in SIRT1. As a result of this defect, these mice aged rapidly and showed significant problems with their mitochondria.

However, once the mice turned 22 months old, they were given increased levels of NAD+, and the results were incredible. The mice had less insulin resistance, less inflammation, and less muscle wasting.

As a result of the increase of NAD+ levels, the mice began to appear as though they were merely six months old (for humans, that would be the equivalent of a 60-year-old’s cells shifting to being more like those that belong to a 20-year-old).

This study (and others like it) has led to the idea that increasing NAD+ levels could be a possible way to maintain long-term health in humans.
How do you increase NAD+ levels?

There is still a long path ahead for NAD+ research, but there are some ways you can increase your levels.

1. Exercise

When you work out, your body needs more NAD+ to produce more energy which puts your mitochondria into overdrive. The good news is that your body doesn't halt producing additional NAD+ when you finish exercising. So, by consistently working out, you will be able to increase your mitochondrial pumping protein.

2. Consume fermented foods and beverages

Fermented foods and drinks such as kimchi, kombucha (anything that undergoes the chemical process of fermentation by exposure to lactobacilli) receive, as a byproduct, a small amount of NAD+ which you then consume. Another reason to add kombucha to your morning routine!

3. Take an NAD+ booster

You can also take an NAD+ booster such as nicotinamide riboside (NR) which is a potent form of vitamin B3 that extends various health benefits, including endurance, performance, weight management, cardiovascular health, anti-aging, cognitive function and neuroprotection. If you opt to take an NR supplement (with your doctor's guidance), then take 100 to 250 mg each morning.

That being said, too much vitamin B can damage your liver and lead to other harmful effects.

There is still no conclusive evidence that NAD+ can reverse the aging process; however, by eating healthy, exercising regularly, wearing sunscreen, cutting down on alcoholic beverages, and taking vitamin D supplements, you are well on your way to staying young forever.


Frank L. Jaksch Jr. is the Chief Executive Officer and a co-founder of ChromaDex. He oversees research, strategy and operations for the Company with a focus on scientific and novel products for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical markets. Mr. Jaksch earned a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology from Valparaiso University.

Special offers