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Unlocking the Secrets of NAD+: Is it the Key to Cellular Health and Longevity?Written by Dr. Amber Rashid.

In the last few years NAD+ has received a lot of attention in the sphere of longevity and reversal of biological age, but does it merit its title of being the ‘fountain of youth’? The answer is complicated. Yes, it has shown a lot of promise in animal studies and some human studies; however, we need considerably more evidence of its worth before it becomes part of mainstream Medicine.

What is NAD+ and Why is it Important?

NAD stands for Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide, which is a coenzyme found in all living cells. It plays a crucial role in various biological processes, particularly in energy metabolism and cellular signaling. In its oxidized form (NAD+), it plays a role in energy production but more important than that is its contribution to sirtuin mediated DNA repair and gene expression regulation. These are complex concepts, and I will explain them in more detail later.

It is interesting to note that the levels of NAD+ decreases as we age, and researchers believe that the declining levels of NAD+  have a direct effect on age related changes in our bodies. What remains to be seen is whether we can increase our stores of NAD+ through external means and how well we can reverse the effects of aging by replenishing NAD+ in our bodies.

Below are some of the known benefits of NAD+

1. Slows down aging

It is believed that NAD+ alters cellular and metabolic processes which are responsible for physical and cognitive decline. Animal studies have shown that a boost in NAD+ levels result in slowing and sometimes reversal of biological aging processes

2. Increases energy

NAD+ plays a vital role in energy metabolism and helps to improve physical and athletic performance by boosting energy levels and blood circulation. It is also believed to slow down age related muscle degradation and help in muscle repair and rejuvenation after exercise.

3.Improves cognitive function

In animal studies, NAD+ has been shown to protect and repair neurons and decrease nerve related inflammatory damage. It is thus associated with decreasing cognitive impairment and preventing neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

4. Reduces cholesterol

As we are all aware, elevated cholesterol is strongly associated with heart disease and is a leading cause of death due to heart attacks and strokes. NAD and its precursor Niacin, have both been shown to lower triglycerides and increase levels of HDL (the good cholesterol), thus reducing cardiovascular risk.

5. Reduces cancer risk

Research in NAD’s role in cancer prevention is still in its infancy but there is promising preliminary data which shows that NAD, through its effect on cellular health and gene expression plays a significant role in prevention and treatment of certain cancers.

How does NAD+ affect DNA Repair?

Our DNA can get damaged due to various factors, such as exposure to radiation or chemicals. But our cells have mechanisms to repair this damage and maintain the integrity of our DNA.

NAD+ is like a helper molecule that plays a crucial role in DNA repair. It helps in two main ways:

  • Providing Energy: Think of NAD+ as a source of energy for DNA repair. When our cells need to fix damaged DNA, they require energy to carry out the repair process effectively. NAD+ helps provide this energy by participating in specific metabolic processes within our cells.


  • Assisting Repair Enzymes: Repair enzymes are like tiny workers that fix the damaged parts of our DNA. NAD+ acts as a helper molecule to these repair enzymes, making their job easier. It provides them with the necessary tools and chemical groups to carry out their repair tasks effectively.

Additionally, NAD+ helps in the communication process within our cells. It acts as a signal that alerts the cell when DNA damage occurs, so the repair mechanisms can be activated promptly.

By having enough NAD+ in our cells, we support the repair machinery to work efficiently. It ensures that damaged DNA is accurately and effectively repaired, maintaining the stability and health of our genetic information.

What is ‘Gene Expression Regulation’ and How Does NAD+ Help?

Gene expression regulation refers to the process by which our genes are “turned on” or “turned off” to control the production of proteins in our cells. Genes contain instructions that determine how our bodies function, and gene expression determines whether these instructions are actually used to create proteins or not.

Imagine genes as recipe books, and proteins as the dishes they describe. Gene expression regulation is like a chef in a kitchen deciding which recipes to follow and which ones to ignore. Depending on the needs of the cell or the body, certain genes are activated (turned on), and their instructions are used to make proteins. Other genes are deactivated (turned off), and their instructions are not used.

Gene expression regulation is crucial because it allows our cells to respond to different conditions, such as growth, development, and stress. It ensures that the right proteins are produced at the right time and in the right amounts. By controlling gene expression, our cells can adapt to different conditions, maintain proper function, and respond to challenges.

What are Sirtuins and how does NAD+ affect longevity through Sirtuins?

NAD+ plays a crucial role in sirtuin-mediated longevity. Sirtuins are a family of proteins that are involved in various cellular processes, including the above two processes as well as metabolism, and response to stress. They are dependent on the presence of NAD+ for their activity.

Sirtuins work by removing acetyl groups from proteins in a process called deacetylation. The addition and removal of acetyl groups can influence how proteins work. By removing the acetyl groups through deacetylation, proteins can be “reset” or have their activities adjusted, thereby contributing to overall cellular health, and potentially influencing the aging process. The activity of sirtuins is directly linked to the NAD+ levels in the cell. When NAD+ levels are high, sirtuins can efficiently carry out their deacetylation functions.

The interaction between NAD+ and sirtuins is particularly relevant to aging because NAD+ levels tend to decline with age. This decline in NAD+ can impair sirtuin function, leading to compromised cellular processes and increased susceptibility to age-related diseases.

How can you boost your NAD+ levels?

Supplementation with NAD precursors, such as nicotinamide riboside (NR) and nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), has gained attention in recent years for their potential health benefits. These precursors can be converted into NAD+ in the body and are being studied for their possible roles in improving cellular function, metabolic health, and aging-related processes.

By supplementing with NR or NMN, it is believed that NAD+ levels can be increased, potentially enhancing sirtuin activity and supporting cellular processes associated with healthy aging.

It’s important to note that while studies in animal models have shown promising effects of NR and NMN on various aspects of aging and health, the translation to humans is still being investigated. Human clinical trials are ongoing to further understand the potential benefits and safety of these NAD+ precursors.

Although researchers differ in what they believe is the ideal dose for NMN, the consensus is 250-500 mg for 35 years old or younger and 500 mg – 1000 mg for adults over 35 years old. Similarly, for NR, the recommended dose is 300 mg for younger adults and up to 1000 mg for the over 35-year-olds. It is recommended to take the entire dose in the morning, an hour before food intake, as food decreases absorption.

Both NR and NMN are relatively well tolerated, but may have minor side effects, which are usually temporary. These include nausea, upset stomach, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, and flushing.

As with any supplement or intervention, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before considering NR or NMN supplementation, as individual circumstances and health conditions can vary.