What is NAD+ and why is it so important?
What is NAD+ and why is it so important?
What is NAD+?
- Enzyme = a substance that sparks or speeds up chemical reactions in living things
- Coenzyme (like NAD+) = a ‘helper’ molecule that enables enzymes to go about their business
Why is NAD+ so important?
When you think about energy and the human body, you usually think of large movements that need lots of power – activities like playing sport, running for the bus, jugging kids, or carrying groceries.
But NAD+ helps create energy your body uses for hundreds of other processes you don’t even notice, like repairing damage, fighting infection, combating inflammation, fueling brain function, even warding off the effects of aging itself. There is almost no biological process that doesn’t need NAD+1.
NAD+ is a natural battery charger
A battery gets drained when electrons are released to deliver energy. Those electrons need help returning to their starting point so they can create more energy. NAD+ moves electrons back and forth in this process, charging and recharging your cells so they can go about the very important business of keeping your body running2.
Where do you get NAD+ from?
NAD+ declines with age
But despite its critical importance to your health, levels of NAD+ decline as you get older4. By age 65 you have about half the NAD+ you had at 305.
Scientists believe this rapid decline is driven by two events: a reduction in the amount of NAD+ your body creates as you get older (even if other factors like diet and exercise remain unchanged)6, coupled with a depletion of NAD+ supplies caused by NAD+ consuming enzymes7.
Unfortunately, the more your NAD+ pool is depleted, the less fuel there is to support the hundreds of processes which keep your body running. Declining NAD+ is one of the main drivers of the development of mitochondrial dysfunction, metabolic abnormalities, and age-related diseases4, which all come at a serious cost to your health.
How does NAD+ support health?
Research indicates that stabilizing NAD+ levels is a promising strategy for improving cardiac function8, and may be linked to beneficial impacts on heart conditions9.
This is important because after age 30 you begin to lose around 3% to 8% of your muscle mass per decade. The rate of decline accelerates after you hit age 6012. Less muscle means greater weakness and less mobility, reduced strength and exercise capacity, and increased risk of falls and fractures later in life.
The cellular ‘respiration’ process of turning nutrients into energy using NAD+ is the foundation of a healthy metabolism. In other words, NAD+ is the beginning of every energy-driven process that maintains health in your body.
Inflammation and immunity
Multiple studies have demonstrated that regulating NAD+ levels could be an effective strategy to control inflammaging. It has also been shown to help regulate diseases driven by chronic inflammation, such as neurodegenerative diseases and some cancers13,14,15.
As you get older, particularly from middle age onwards, changes can start to occur within the brain that may trigger a gradual decline in mental capabilities. This is known as age-related cognitive decline, and it typically results in people becoming more forgetful and less mentally sharp. In severe instances, it can lead to dementia. By supporting metabolic processes in your brain NAD+ can support vital aspects of robust cognitive health16.
Treatment with NMN, a molecule your body uses to create NAD+, has been shown to substantially improve insulin sensitivity in pre-diabetic humans17. It has also been shown to reduce insulin sensitivity in subjects with age-related diabetes18,19. These results highlight NMN as an effective path for correcting declines in the way your body responds to insulin as you get older.
NAD+ is essential to DNA repair. The proteins in charge of the process use NAD+ as fuel to perform their vital functions20. When NAD+ is plentiful, it can also prevent the action of some proteins that meddle with your body’s ability to mend damaged DNA21. If NAD+ is not present in cells to stop this harmful interaction or to fuel repair, DNA breaks are not fixed. This can lead to cellular damage which drives the aging process itself.
A properly functioning 24-hour body cycle is important because misaligned circadian rhythms lead to sleep deprivation, which in turn can have profound consequences on your physical and mental health.
Can you take NAD+ as a supplement?
How to boost NAD+ naturally
The next best thing to taking NAD+ itself is supplementing with NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide). Like NAD+, NMN is a natural molecule that occurs in all life forms. Supplementing with NMN increases the amount of material available for your body to create more NAD+.
Nicotinamide mononucleotide is just one small chemical reaction away from being NAD+ itself. It is the final stage on the biological production line your body uses to make NAD+. In numerous studies, NMN supplementation has been shown to increase the amount of NAD+ in the body and to improve age-related inflammation, insulin insensitivity, glucose intolerance, mitochondrial dysfunctions, and more24.
This clinical and preclinical evidence highlights NMN as a promising way to counter age-associated diseases and support the foundations of your health.
The future of NAD+
Scientists continue to research NAD+ and its precursors, searching to unveil even more secrets of this life-giving molecule. Thanks to a rapidly growing number of clinical studies demonstrating its vital role in human health, NAD+ boosting is the go-to solution for people seeking to optimize their wellbeing and live life to the fullest now, and in the years ahead.
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2. Cantó C, Menzies KJ, Auwerx J. NAD(+) Metabolism and the Control of Energy Homeostasis: A Balancing Act between Mitochondria and the Nucleus. Cell Metab. 2015;22(1):31-53
3. Xie, N., Zhang, L., Gao, W. et al. NAD+ metabolism: pathophysiologic mechanisms and therapeutic potential. Sig Transduct Target Ther 5, 227 (2020)
4. Chini CCS, Tarragó MG, Chini EN. NAD and the aging process: Role in life, death and everything in between. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2017 Nov 5;455:62-74
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6. Yoshino J, Mills KF, Yoon MJ & Imai S Nicotinamide mononucleotide, a key NAD(+) intermediate, treats the pathophysiology of diet- and age-induced diabetes in mice. Cell Metab. 14, 528–536
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10. Romani M, Sorrentino V, Oh CM, et al. NAD+ boosting reduces age-associated amyloidosis and restores mitochondrial homeostasis in muscle. Cell Rep. 2021;34(3):108660
11. Ryu D, Zhang H, Ropelle ER, et al. NAD+ repletion improves muscle function in muscular dystrophy and counters global PARylation. Sci Transl Med. 2016;8(361):361ra139
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17. Yoshino M, Yoshino J, Kayser BD, et al. Nicotinamide mononucleotide increases muscle insulin sensitivity in prediabetic women. Science. Published online April 22, 2021
18. Basu R, Breda E, Oberg AL, et al. Mechanisms of the age-associated deterioration in glucose tolerance: contribution of alterations in insulin secretion, action, and clearance. Diabetes. 2003;52(7):1738-1748
19. Yoshino J, Mills KF, Yoon MJ, Imai S. Nicotinamide mononucleotide, a key NAD(+) intermediate, treats the pathophysiology of diet- and age-induced diabetes in mice. Cell Metab. 2011;14(4):528-536
20. Wilk, A., Hayat, F., Cunningham, R. et al. Extracellular NAD+ enhances PARP-dependent DNA repair capacity independently of CD73 activity. Sci Rep 10, 651 (2020)
21. Jun Li, Michael S. Bonkowski, Sébastien Moniot, Dapeng Zhang, Basil P. Hubbard, Alvin J. Y. Ling, Luis A. Rajman, Bo Qin, Zhenkun Lou, Vera Gorbunova, L. Aravind, Clemens Steegborn, David A. Sinclair. A conserved NAD+ binding pocket that regulates protein-protein interactions during aging. SCIENCE24 MAR 2017 : 1312-1317
22. Covarrubias AJ, Perrone R, Grozio A, Verdin E. NAD+ metabolism and its roles in cellular processes during ageing. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2021;22(2):119-141