It is no secret that the key to a long and healthy life lies in our genes. But what if there was something we could do to influence our gene expression in order to live longer? What would happen if we could turn on the genes that promote longevity and turn off the ones that lead to disease?
Believe it or not, scientists have been studying this very question, and they may have just found the answer: Enter; NAD+
One of the most promising areas of research is the role of NAD+ in health and longevity. It has the power to not only improve your wellbeing, but also slow down the aging process. So much so, that some researchers have even referred to NAD+ as the “fountain of youth.”
But what exactly is NAD+? And what benefits does it provide to the body?
Let’s find out.
Cellular Senescence and NAD+
Our world tells us that the key to longevity and feeling our best lies in extreme self-care: eating organic foods, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress. While all of these things are important for overall health, they do not address a major root cause of aging: cellular senescence. Cellular senescence is the process by which cells stop dividing and enter a state of permanent cell cycle arrest. This process is a natural part of aging, but exposure to environmental stressors like pollution, UV radiation, and cigarette smoke accelerates it. When cells become senescent, they secrete inflammatory cytokines that damage nearby healthy cells and cause them to become senescent as well. This creates a vicious cycle of cellular senescence that leads to inflammation, tissue damage, and eventually, age-related diseases like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. The good news is that there are ways to prevent and maybe even reverse cellular senescence. One of the most promising is by using NAD+ precursors to increase intracellular levels of NAD+.
What Is NAD+?
As we get older, our bodies begin to forfeit some crucial substances and molecules that work to keep us young. One of these substances is Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide, or, NAD+.
NAD+, a coenzyme found in all living cells, plays a vital role in energy metabolism, cell signaling, and DNA repair. It serves as an electron acceptor in the mitochondrial electron transport chain. Which means it’s essential for the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy currency of the cell.
NAD+ is also involved in redox reactions, or chemical reactions in which electrons are transferred from one molecule to another. These reactions are important for maintaining the integrity of DNA and preventing cellular damage.
Why is NAD+ Important?
NAD+ fuels all the metabolic processes that keep us alive and healthy. When levels of NAD+ decline, so does our health.
NAD (H) dependent enzymes involved in oxidative phosphorylation, the TCA cycle, and glycolysis are restricted in inactivity when there is a deficiency. As a result of this decrease, ATP production is decreased, as well as levels of PARP and sirtuins, which work to mend DNA.
In simpler terms, our body won’t function at its best if we don’t have enough NAD+. We’ll miss out on crucial benefits like:
● Maintaining energy levels
● Regulating metabolism
● Repairing DNA damage
● Controlling inflammation
Each of these systems is essential for our overall health and wellbeing. Without them, we age faster and are more susceptible to age-related diseases.
Below, we dive deeper into just some of the benefits of NAD+.
Control Fatty Diets and Help Manage Weight Gain
Animal studies have shown that increasing your levels of NAD+ supports metabolism and weight maintenance, even when on a high-fat diet. Ingesting precursors such as nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) or nicotinamide riboside (NR) is the standard approach. In one study, mice that were given an NAD+ precursor gained 60% less weight and had better insulin sensitivity than those who didn’t receive the supplement. Energy expenditure was also increased in the treated mice, indicating that NAD+ may help boost metabolism.
And excitingly, this benefit appears to translate to humans, based on a recent randomized controlled trial testing NMN!
Several studies show the life-extending benefits of NAD+. The most prominent example is a 2016 study that looks at how supplements that increase the level of NAD+ in our bodies can make us live longer. In this study, NAD+ lengthened the lifespan of a mouse by improving mitochondrial function and increasing SIRT1, a specific sirtuin protein–and this may be true for humans too! It mimics the same benefits of calorie restriction, which is the only thing that has been shown to promote longevity in every species it’s been tested in.
Increase Strength and Endurance
You know that old adage “you’re only as strong as your weakest link?” Well, it turns out there’s some truth behind those words. As we age, our muscle function and strength tend to decline. This results in less active days for many people who live into their golden years. Until NAD+ precursors became a supplement, that is. Preliminary studies on animals have shown that NAD+ precursors can help increase strength and endurance and improve muscle recovery after exercise. For example, a study published in Cell Metabolism found that when mice had 15% fewer gene variants to produce NAD+, their muscle strength and endurance were reduced. But when the researchers gave them NR-enriched water to boost this crucial vitamin, they restored the exercise capacity back to what you would expect from normal healthy animals in 1 week! This shows that NAD+ is not only important for our muscles when we’re young, but also as we age and start to experience a natural decline in function.
The Bottom Line
Human health is only as good as the health of our cells. And a major key to healthy cells is NAD+. It’s clear that NAD+ is one of the most noteworthy molecules in the human body. It plays a role in preventing disease, maintaining optimal health, and even extending lifespan. By restoring NAD+, we can help our bodies to function at their best. At Afiya, we are dedicated to helping people achieve their health goals. We offer personalized plans that include strategies for optimizing NAD+ levels. To learn more about how we can help you live a longer, healthier life, schedule a longevity consultation today!
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