The Complete Guide (Updated for 2020)
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a co-enzyme found in all living cells. It’s one of the fundamental building blocks of life because it turns nutrients into energy.
As we age, NAD+ levels decline. But now, scientists have found a way to boost levels in the body. And research suggests that boosting NAD+ levels through supplementation increases energy levels and provides what many are calling “the fountain of youth”.
With so much information about NAD+ floating around, how do you digest all the science and make the right decision for you?
We suggest consulting with your healthcare physician as the supplements and/or products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information provided is not intended to substitute for consultations with your healthcare provider, nor should it be considered medical advice specific to your health condition.
What Exactly Is NAD+?
According to Sciencemag.com, NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is a co-enzyme which is found in all living cells, and is essential for life and is as important to our cells as food, water, and oxygen. It is essential for many critical cell functions, such as energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, DNA repair, regulation of circadian rhythm and gene expression. Science has shown that our levels decline as we age, the higher our levels are the better our cells function.
Scientists believe that increased NAD+ levels can improve both the health and the lifespan of humans.
A Brief History
NAD+ was first discovered in 1906—more than 110 years ago—by scientists who were researching fermentation.
The medical importance of NAD+ was originally established when the disease pellagra was discovered. Pellagra is a disease characterized by dermatitis, dementia, diarrhea and, eventually death. While pellagra is not a common disease in the developed world, NAD+ has been shown to be helpful in slowing the aging process as well as halting age-associated diseases.
As early as the 1930’s, administration of NAD+ precursors were found to improve the neurological state of dementia patients. Pharmacological dosages of it have been found to provide dramatic therapeutic benefits for diseases such as MS, Type I diabetes, colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and schizophrenia, providing potent anti-inflammatory effects.
Administration of NAD+ in therapeutic dosages has been found to reduce cellular injury in a number of diseases, improving cell viability by enhancing the activities of sirtuins and improving energy metabolism.
Why Would You Take NAD+?
In short, science shows that it helps the body function better while aging. In order to understand “how” it works, you first need to understand what happens to the body as we age.
Power to the Mitochondria
Mitochondria are essentially tiny batteries within each cell that are the source of cellular energy. To make that energy, a series of chemical reactions must take place within the mitochondria. NAD+ is a major component of these reactions, which produce the energy known as “ATP”. A reduced level of NAD+ leads to lower ATP production which is critical for our bodies to function properly.
Loss of mitochondrial function is a hallmark of the aging process as well as age-related diseases. Some studies have shown a link between mitochondrial function and NAD+ metabolism.
Initially, short-term NAD+ supplementation of mice who suffered loss of mitochondrial function found a restoration of some reversible aspects of aging, leading scientists to believe that increased levels could induce life-span extension and lessen aging effects in humans as well.
Today, NAD+ is considered a “courier” in the metabolism process, shuttling important information between the body’s molecules, allowing them to effectively react with one another.
NAD+ can also help the body during periods of stress, allowing the health of DNA to remain stable, and regulating the body’s circadian rhythms.
Recent Science Supports the Benefits of NAD+
While we have known about NAD+ for more than a century, in recent years some major discoveries about NAD+ have been made.
While the involvement of NAD+ in mitochondrial functions and energy metabolism are well-known, the ability of it to assist in longevity and DNA repair have been known only in the last decade.
Primary among these discoveries is that NAD+ levels decline steadily as we age, meaning other processes in the body which require it to function properly may not work as well as we age.
Another major discovery by Dr. Leonard Guarente and Dr. Shin-ichiro Imai occurred at MIT when it was found that a family of proteins which keep our cells in homeostasis, governing longevity, only function when NAD+ is present.
One recent review article studied NAD+ metabolism and oxidative stress. NAD+ was found to generate energy production and was identified as an important co-factor in cellular respiration. It was also shown to play a unique role in the repair of DNA, and since there are important interactions between oxidative stress, immune activation, cell viability in neurodegenerative disorders and energy metabolism, NAD+ plays a pivotal role.
Providing increased NAD+ levels to the body in usable form, can effectively regulate cell death and stress resistance associated with age-related degenerative disorders, slowing down aging and extending life. According to biologists, our goal, as human beings, is to stay in a state of homeostasis—a state of balance, made possible by coenzymes and specific proteins in the body which are metabolic “sensors,” so to speak.
What are Sirtuins?
Scientists have found that Sirtuin foods offer incredible health benefits, not only increasing longevity, but the overall quality of life as well.
Sirtuins are often known as the “housekeeping” genes because they are a family of age-related proteins which regulate metabolism, inflammation and cellular death, as well as longevity.
Sirtuins modulate the plasticity of the brain and improve the functions of memory formation.
Certain foods contain high levels of sirtuin activators. These foods includeE
Tofu and other soy products
Extra-virgin olive oil
Blackcurrants, in particular, are rich in sirtuins, and have been shown to reduce heart attack and stroke risk, even protecting the body against diabetes.