Humans are constantly trying to reduce the effects of aging. We see it in popular culture shows with ghoulish characters who “live forever” and in the targeted marketing of beauty products that will “renew your skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”
In spite of the absurdity of some marketing campaigns, seeking to pursue optimal health and reduce the effects of aging is a worthy goal for us all.
Thanks to the progressive medicine revolution, we no longer have to rely on sub-par health and wellness products for our anti-aging endeavors. In fact, a tiny molecule called NAD+ may be the holy grail of anti-aging, not to mention the other health benefits it conveys.
What is NAD+
NAD+ is a helper molecule, also known as a coenzyme, that is found in all living cells and plays a critical role in cellular functions that keep you alive. NAD stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. It is involved in converting the food you eat into cellular energy, repairing DNA, and fortifying your cellular defense system.
There are two forms of NAD: NAD+ and NADH.
Simply put, NAD+ and NADH are the same, all that changes is the location of the electrons within the molecule. For example, NAD+ is the empty cargo ship ready to pick up its next shipment. NADH is the cargo ship full of its load of two electrons and a hydrogen atom.
NAD+ assists with cellular functions and molecular reactions by shuffling around electrons.
Research shows that NAD+ is central in many biological processes like:
- DNA repair
- DNA transcription
- Fatty acid synthesis
- Increasing energy production
- Coordinating circadian rhythms
- Regulation of protein-protein interactions
How Does Your Body Make NAD+
Unfortunately, NAD+ levels decline with age, and low levels of the nucleotide are thought to correlate with declining health. It is constantly consumed and degraded by three key enzymes that depend on it to function.
Some scientists believe that mitochondrial dysfunction, a key component of aging, is caused by declining NAD+ levels. Declining NAD+ prevents the mitochondria from producing Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) efficiently. This is critical because ATP is the energy currency for cells. All cells need ATP, without it, they will not function.
Precursors of NAD+
The good news is there are several ways your body makes and maintains this important molecule. It does this through the use of precursors which can be synthesized into NAD+. Those precursors consist of:
- Tryptophan (Trp), an amino acid
- Nicotinic acid (NA), a form of vitamin B3, also known as niacin
- Nicotinamide (NAM), a form of vitamin B3, sometimes called niacinamide
- Nicotinamide riboside (NR), a form of B3
- Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), an intermediate between nicotinamide riboside and NAD+
However, let’s talk about what happens when we give our bodies a boost of this molecule.
Now that you know how important NAD+ is for basic cellular functions, it’s time to explore a few more benefits of this molecule.
Without adequate levels of NAD+, our bodies would come to a screeching halt. On the other hand, if we boost levels of NAD+ we can enhance and restore the function of our body.
Research shows that boosting NAD+ results in the following:
- Decreases inflammation
- Defends your cells against oxidative stress
- Increases longevity
- Protects brain cells
- Promotes a healthy sleep-wake cycle
- Decreases the risk of heart disease
- Decreases skin aging through maintaining elasticity, structure, and moisture
Health Risks of Low NAD+
We’ve discussed the benefits of boosting NAD+, but did you know there are actually health risks associated with this molecule when levels are too low?
Sirtuins are a family of proteins that regulate critical biological functions and are significant concerning aging. They cannot function without NAD+ and when NAD+ levels are high, sirtuins are more active. When they are low, sirtuin levels also decline, leading to aging.
Impaired Brain Function
Mitochondrial dysfunction negatively affects our brain health. Supplementation with NAD+ precursors and NADH have shown neuroprotective properties. For example, one study shows that patients with early-onset dementia showed no evidence of progressive cognitive impairment after six months of NADH supplementation!
Brain fog, joint pain, lightheadedness, digestive problems, and headaches are all symptoms of both fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. There is growing evidence that oxidative damage and mitochondrial dysfunction are contributors to these disorders. Researchers believe that replenishment of NAD+ could help trigger increased ATP generation, thereby increasing energy.
How To Increase NAD+ Levels Naturally
It is hard to argue against the importance of NAD+ in your body. The encouraging news is that there are ways to increase NAD+ levels naturally.
- Incorporate food high in NAD+ precursors. NAD+ is synthesized through precursors that are in the form of vitamin B3. Eat foods rich in vitamin B3 like fermented foods, chicken, and green vegetables to boost your NAD+ levels.
- Try intermittent fasting which can enhance your NAD+ levels.
- Get into ketosis. Ketones have been shown to increase the brain NAD+/NADH ratio, suggesting that nutritional ketosis may be able to preserve brain health.
- When you exercise it requires your body to use up NADH, therefore producing more NAD+.
NAD+ Supplement Treatment
As mentioned above, science and medicine have come a long way. That means you don’t have to rely on fasting or exercise to boost your NAD+ levels!
While a pure NAD+ supplement would not survive digestion, taking one of NAD+’s precursors is an effective way to boost your levels.
Designs for Health offers a unique, easy to take form of supplementation. According to Designs for Health, “Liposomal NMN Synergy™ is a potent formula containing 50 mg of nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) and 50 mg of trimethylglycine (TMG) per serving to support healthy aging and cellular function*. NMN is a direct and stable precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), a widely studied coenzyme present in all living cells and critical for energy production, DNA repair, and cell survival. TMG is a methyl donor that supports the action of NMN. Liposomal NMN Synergy™ is the only NAD+ precursor using a liposome delivery for enhanced bioavailability.”
You can also apply NAD+ topically through a cream or serum. This directly applies the anti-aging compound to your skin cells.
Finally, IV NAD Therapy is a safe, natural, and non-toxic way to reap the benefits of elevated NAD+ levels. This may be particularly effective in the area of mental health and brain rejuvenation. Our intravenous administration of NAD bypasses the gastrointestinal tract, allowing maximum absorption.
Beauty From The Inside Out
Unfortunately, there is no single miracle supplement or product that can fully reduce the effects of aging. NAD+ is a powerful tool to help you stay healthy, however, maintaining health, vigor, and radiance starts from the inside out. The foundation of your health starts with your day-to-day choices. When you work with an integrative and functional medicine-minded practitioner, you will better be able to identify what those daily choices need to be to achieve optimal health and age with grace.