NAD+, Superfood for the Cells
NAD+, Superfood for the Cells
What is NAD+?
Often referred to as the “anti-aging molecule,” NAD+ has become a hot topic in research and the world of health and wellness…let’s find out why. NAD+ stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide – it is a coenzyme that’s found in all cells (mostly in mitochondria) of the body. A coenzyme is required for enzymes to complete reactions. Remember that enzymes, reactions, and other ‘sciencey’ terms are all part of biochemistry, or the science of life. At the biochemical level, life is really just an insane amount of biochemical reactions occurring every second of everyday. NAD+ is known to be involved in over 500+ biochemical pathways in the body! It is one of the most abundant and critical molecules on the planet – without it, there would be no life.
NAD+ and Addiction
Interestingly, intravenous (IV) NAD+ has been used therapeutically since the late 1960’s to effectively lessen the withdrawal from alcohol and drug use in people suffering from addiction. NAD+ stores are depleted in people who abuse drugs and alcohol, therefore, their energy production in vital organs is hindered. IV NAD+ provides a boost of energy to the brain and is said to help treat addiction by flushing out remaining substances, reducing withdrawal effects, curbing cravings for substances, and allowing the body to produce energy naturally as opposed to exogenously with other substances.5 This historical use speaks to its efficacy and safety as a medicine.
Benefits of NAD+
To say the least, NAD+ has several functions, let’s name a few big players:
- NAD+’s most notable function is its central role in energy metabolism, as it is required to produce ATP in all tissues – ATP is the primary form of energy in all living organisms
- NAD+ is used by PARP proteins that repair DNA (our genetic instructions) and stabilize the genome (our body’s genetic instruction manual)
- NAD+ activates a class of enzymes called sirtuins that are involved in aging; exerting a positive influence on longevity
- NAD+ homeostasis is required for the proper function of the neurological system and various metabolic tissues, including fat, muscle, intestines, kidneys and liver
NAD+ is known as a carrier molecule because it takes electrons and protons from hydrogens of macronutrients (such as glucose, aka sugar) and uses them to produce mass amounts of ATP in the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell). This process provides the fuel that keeps our body running 24/7. Optimal cellular functioning comes down to happy and healthy mitochondria. Adequate NAD+ levels keep the mitochondria producing a surplus of energy throughout the body. Insufficient NAD+ levels lead to unhealthy mitochondria that lack energy production in tissues, including vital organs like the brain and heart. These tissues then cease to work as properly as they once did when energy levels were upheld.
What happens when NAD+ levels decline?
The problem is that NAD+ stores can be depleted by certain factors (e.g. poor lifestyle, substance abuse, inflammatory conditions) and cellular levels decline naturally with age. Declining NAD+ levels with age, and subsequent under-functioning mitochondria, is thought to precipitate the onset of disease and aging, as it has been linked to the development and exacerbation of numerous aging-associated diseases including neurodegenerative diseases (like Alzheimer’s’ and Parkinson’s), metabolic diseases (like diabetes and atherosclerosis), and skeletal/muscular diseases (like arthritis and sarcopenia). A decline in NAD+ levels is associated with a rise in DNA-damaging reactive-oxygen-species, and the burden of DNA damage with age is thought to contribute to “inflammaging” and cancer.
How can we increase NAD+ levels?
Many of these aging-associated diseases can be slowed down and even reversed by restoring NAD+ levels1. For this reason, NAD+ has been targeted as a therapeutic option for ameliorating disease, optimizing health, and combating the aging process. So how do we boost NAD+ levels? A popular route is by using NAD+ precursor molecules, such as nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) and nicotinamide riboside (NR), which can be taken as dietary supplements. At very high doses in animal studies, NR and NMN have been shown to improve the way multiple tissues and cell types age, including the heart, skeletal muscle, brain, and stem cells.2 In human studies, NR has been shown to safely, tolerably, and effectively increase NAD+ levels.3,4
IV NAD+ at LIVV
Another popular route is IV NAD+, which is the most effective way to get NAD+ into the body as it bypasses the digestive tract and is made directly available to cells. Whereas oral supplementation has certain limitations, for example with the varying extents of absorption. IV NAD+ is a slow drip over a few hours, but well worth the wait – many people begin to feel the positive effects shortly after, including increased energy and improvements in joint pain, brain fog, memory, and focus – not to mention its underlying and long-term effects on anti-aging at play. LIVV is proud to offer IV NAD+ therapy as one of our most prized services! There are different dosages available, your naturopathic doctor (ND) will help choose which is right for you.
How to boost NAD+ naturally
There are also ways to boost NAD+ levels naturally with nutrition and lifestyle – although less efficient than the previously mentioned approaches – they include increasing exercise, reducing caloric intake, eating a healthy diet, and following a consistent daily circadian rhythm pattern by conforming to healthy sleep habits and mealtimes.1 Nutrition-wise, niacin (aka vitamin B3) and tryptophan (an amino acid) are dietary precursors of NAD+, so eating foods rich in these nutrients may help promote higher NAD+ levels. Sources of niacin include meat, fish, avocado, brown rice, mushrooms, green peas, and potatoes. Sources of tryptophan include poultry, salmon, eggs, spinach, peanuts, tofu, and pumpkin and sesame seeds. Talk to your ND about an individualized food plan and NAD+ supportive supplements such as B-complex!
NAD+ boosting therapies have promising research to help alleviate age-related decline and diseases as well as provide many health benefits. Specific health benefits of boosting NAD+ levels include improved tissue and organ function, protection from cognitive decline, improved metabolic health, reduced inflammation, and increased physiological benefits.1 NAD+’s vast metabolic, signaling, and cellular processes make it essential not just to survival and homeostasis, but also to the enhancement of health and lifespan. This is particularly important as the elderly population and associated age-related diseases continues to grow. As always, further research will continue to uncover the wonders of NAD+ therapy. Call LIVV today to book your appointment!
Written by Jordan Valdez, RDN
Figure 4.1 Therapeutic approaches to restore NAD+ levels and their impact on health.
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. doi:10.1038/s41580-020-00313-x
- 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. doi:10.1038/s41580-020-00313-x
- Dellinger RW, Santos SR, Morris M, et al. Repeat dose NRPT (nicotinamide riboside and pterostilbene) increases NAD+ levels in humans safely and sustainably: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study [published correction appears in NPJ Aging Mech Dis. 2018 Aug 20;4:8]. NPJ Aging Mech Dis. 2017;3:17. Published 2017 Nov 24. doi:10.1038/s41514-017-0016-9
- Martens CR, Denman BA, Mazzo MR, et al. Chronic nicotinamide riboside supplementation is well-tolerated and elevates NAD+ in healthy middle-aged and older adults. Nat Commun. 2018;9(1):1286. Published 2018 Mar 29. doi:10.1038/s41467-018-03421-7