The quest to slow down the natural effects of aging has been ongoing for thousands of years. Today, the pharmacy store shelves are filled with a category of products known as cosmeceuticals that claim to have the ability to reduce wrinkles, regenerate cells, and heal skin. Most of these claims are dubious at best. However, there is one ingredient that has been getting a lot of attention lately for its potential as a genuine anti-aging facilitator. It is called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). So what is NAD+ and can it really help you to reverse age?
What is NAD+
NAD is a coenzyme that is derived from a synthesis of tryptophan, Vitamin B3 (nicotinic acid), and nicotinamide. It exists in all living cells and is required for the production of energy in the mitochondria and the transfer of that energy around the body. It also controls the activity of a number of key enzymes.
NAD+ stimulates the mitochondria in the body. The mitochondria forms your energy production center. As we age, the mitochondria does not function as efficiently as it used to. This results in a reduction of energy. Researchers have identified an age-related decline in NAD+ levels as a key contributor to these reduced energy levels.
While researchers have been unable to pinpoint the reason why NAD+ levels decline with age, they have been able to identify the consequences of that decline. One of them is that a class of enzymes called sirtuins are not able to function optimally. These enzymes influence a number of cellular activities related to aging, inflammation, and energy efficiency.
Researchers have concluded that when your NAD+ levels decline, every part of your body becomes less efficient. As a result, it is recommended that taking an NAD+ supplement will have anti-aging properties
Anti-Aging Benefits of NAD+
In a recent study, researchers found that the age-related loss of muscle strength and size is related to the activity of Alzheimer-like protein aggregates in the body. Yet, it was seen that increasing NAD+ levels can reverse the activity of these aggregates. The study was led by Jogan Auwerx from the EPFL School of Life Sciences in Switzerland.
Dr. Auwerx and his team studied the activity of Alzheimer-like protein aggregates in a range of species, including humans. They found that, in addition to negatively impacting muscle size and strength, the aggregates also caused damage to mitochondria, resulting in less efficient energy formation and transfer around the body. Dr. Auwerx postulated that, “These abnormal proteotoxic aggregates could [also] serve as novel biomarkers for the aging process, beyond the brain and muscle.”
The researchers next wanted to know whether increasing NAD+ levels would reverse muscle degeneration and reduced energy levels. They fed worms with a nicotinamide riboside and the antitumor agent Olaparib, which are known to boost NAD+ levels in the body. According to Dr. Auwerx, the increased levels of NAD+ turned on the worm’s “mitochondrial quality control system”, with the result that the Alzheimer-like protein aggregate number reduced significantly. This led to an improvement in the fitness and life span of the worms.
These encouraging results led the researchers to do tests on human muscle tissue, taken from elderly patients. Similar results were seen as in the worm study. They then moved on to a study with mice. Once again, the “mitochondrial quality control system” was turned on, boosting the energy levels of the mice and rejuvenating muscle tissue.
While this exciting research has been taking place, other researchers are working to identify the root cause of aged related NAD+ loss. Until that cause is identified and negated, supplementing with NAD+ is a bit like trying to fill a leaking bucket.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to increase NAD+ levels in the body, as well as increasing sirtuin levels, which also decline as we age. Researchers are not sure why fasting leads to greater NAD+ levels. However, one theory is that an enzyme called eAMPT, that is released from fat cells when we burn stored body fat for energy during a fast promotes NAD+ production.
A number of foods have been shown to boost NAD+ production. These include:
- Cow’s milk — a liter (0.22g) of dairy milk contains 3.9µmol of NAD+
- Fish — the richest sources of NAD+ are tuna, salmon and sardines
- Green vegetables — Peas and asparagus are your best sources but all green vegetables will provide you with NAD+
- Mushrooms — Crimini mushrooms have the highest NAD+ boosting capacity but, again, all varieties will help
- Whole Grains — whole grains contain high levels of Vitamin B3, which contains Nicotinamide Ribosidem the precursor to NAD+
Alcohol is the enemy of NAD+. It interrupts the ability of NAD+ to regulate metabolic processes in the body. So, if you are an excessive alcohol consumer in your senior years, the limited amount of NAD+ that you have will not even be able to do its job properly.
When you engage in exercise you are forcing your body to get active. The mitochondria has no choice but to produce energy and to do so, it needs to create more NAD+.
According to scientist and futurist Ray Kurzweil, smart supplementation can help reduce the effects of aging. As already mentioned, nicotinamide riboside is a precursor to the formation of NAD+ in the body. It is abundant in Vitamin B3, so taking extra B3 may be beneficial in boosting your NAD+ levels.
As we age, our energy levels decline and our muscles get weaker and smaller. Researchers have identified the reduced production of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) as a direct cause of both of these age-related declines. Even though they have not yet pin-pointed the reason for this decline, studies have shown that boosting the level of NAD+ in the body can have significant anti-aging properties.
The best ways to increase NAD+ production in the body are to exercise, practise intermittent fasting, supplement with Vitamin B3, and include green leafy vegetables, dairy milk, mushrooms, fatty fish and whole grains in your diet.