For all the antiaging creams, supplements and treatments, it’s possible that none hold the potential of NAD+, an alternative form of vitamin B3 called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide.
It is converted by the body from its raw form, also known as nicotinamide riboside (niacin), into its coenzyme state, and used as an energy source for biological processes ranging from regulating circadian rhythms to converting food into energy, fixing damaged DNA and strengthening cellular defense mechanisms.
Present in all living cells, NAD+ levels dissipate with age. Low levels of this coenzyme are detrimental to health, leading scientists to study its role in aging and diseases that are related to aging, such as cancers, metabolic disorders and neurodegenerative conditions.
The Role of NAD+ in Aging
Research has shown that with age, the amount of NAD+ present dips in the brain, heart, liver, skeletal muscle, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, spleen, adipose tissue and skin. Cellular dysfunction in these areas often leads to many of the signs of aging we all recognize, therefore prolonging the cellular health of these regions with NAD+ has the potential to change the way we age.
One of the noted benefits of NAD+ is that it activates enzymes which promote healthy aging. An example is sirtuins, which have the power to increase stress resistance while reducing inflammation and fixing damaged DNA, prolonging lifespan in the process.
NAD+ plays a role in metabolism by turning nutrients into energy. Sirtuins rely on NAD+ to function, meaning NAD+ levels have tremendous influence on a number of vital bodily functions.
In the brain, NAD+ can help maintain the production of proteins which help protect cells against oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction, two factors that drive the development of neurodegenerative conditions such Alzheimer’s disease. When it comes to the heart, a study published in the journal Artery Research notes that “raised NAD+ levels, helped reduce stiffness in the aorta and lowered systolic blood pressure in adults.”
How to Increase NAD+ Levels
Science has long known about NAD+, but has struggled to figure out a way to give us more of it until recently. But with research now suggesting that it can restore mitochondrial function and promote blood vessel and muscle growth, scientists are continually working to provide better supplementation of this important coenzyme.
It may come as no surprise that you can supplement NAD+ as you age with over the counter supplements that act as an NAD+ precursor. One of these substances, nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), shows a great deal of promise in this area.
According to a study published in the journal Translational Medicine of Aging, NMN has “beneficial effects that counter normal aging,” and that “long-term administration of NMN protects against age-associated cognitive decline by increasing energy metabolism, insulin sensitivity, lipid metabolism, mitochondrial oxidative metabolism, eye function, bone density and immune function.”
While some of the studies regarding NAD+ have been done on animals, the study notes that clinical trial testing of NAD+ precursors has begun, specifically focused on age-related conditions such as diabetes and neurodegenerative conditions.
While there is a lot of research to be done and a wide range of factors to consider, supplementation of NAD+ using precursors has the potential to provide new therapies for aging and the disorders we commonly associate with it, particularly neurodegenerative diseases.