Healthy Aging Strategy: Optimizing NAD+ Levels for Youthful Cellular Function

Juanita O. Enogieru – Life Extension Wellness Specialist

Health Benefits of NAD+


Many individuals are seeking innovative natural methods to combat aging by supporting optimal cellular function. Improving NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) levels is one strategy that may promote healthy aging and cellular function.

What is nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+)’s role in the body?

NAD+ is a coenzyme needed for various mechanisms associated with normal cellular metabolism. As one gets older, NAD+ levels decline by up to 50%.1 NAD+ levels can also be depleted by obesity and lifestyle choices such as poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption.2-4 Maintaining healthy NAD+ levels while aging is crucial because NAD+ plays roles in critical cellular processes like DNA damage repair and the normal functioning of sirtuin proteins, which contribute to healthy aging.5

How does boosting NAD+ support healthy aging?

Boosting NAD+ levels activates sirtuin signaling and function, improves mitochondrial function, and boosts the body’s natural DNA repair process.2 Preclinical studies have shown that enhancing NAD+ levels promotes longevity through a variety of mechanisms.6

One way boosting NAD+ supports healthy aging is by promoting healthy sirtuin function. Sirtuins are NAD+ dependent enzymes that modulate some aspects of cellular aging by influencing important processes such as DNA repair and inflammatory responses. They also promote healthy cell proliferation.2

While compounds such as resveratrol have been shown to activate sirtuins, NAD+ is still needed for sirtuins to function. Suboptimal levels of NAD+ can hinder beneficial sirtuin function leading to vascular inflammation, increased fat storage, insulin resistance and neurodegeneration in the brain.2,5,7

NAD+ and DNA Repair

Another way in which NAD+ supports healthy aging is by helping facilitate that body’s natural DNA repair processes. DNA is highly vulnerable to damage, which can lead to broken DNA strands and mutations. Accumulated DNA damage contributes to the aging process and can result in immune senescence and deadly diseases like cancer.

An enzyme called PARP-1 plays a major role in repairing DNA damage.8 However, to carry out its function, PARP-1 consumes significant amounts of NAD+. As NAD+ is depleted, the ability of PARP-1 to repair DNA is significantly hindered.2 So, supporting efficient PARP-1 function by boosting NAD+ levels may assist with regaining youthful cell functionality and mediating accumulation of damaged cellular DNA.

Additionally, the tumor suppressor gene p53 protects against unhealthy cellular proliferation that can lead to cancer. Healthy NAD+ levels are required to support p53 activation, which is modulated by SIRT1.10 It interacts with PARP-1 to stimulate the response to DNA. When DNA damage persists, p53 becomes depleted during the repair process, which decreases NAD+ levels.9 The good news is that replenishing NAD+ in cells can encourage the body’s natural DNA repair processes.

What is nicotinamide riboside (NR), and why use it to boost NAD+ levels?

Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is a form of vitamin B3 that occurs naturally in yeast, bacteria and mammals in trace amounts. One cup of milk provides approximately 150 mcg of NR per cup.

NR does not cause the flushing effects often associated with niacin. Preclinical studies suggest that NR supplementation results in increased longevity as well as other health improvements, including neuroprotection, sirtuin activation, weight management, promoting the natural DNA repair process and healthy glucose metabolism.1,10 NR is an effective precursor for promoting healthy NAD+ levels.

Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) Vs. Nicotinamide Mononucleotide 

Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is an effective supplemental precursor for enhancing NAD+ levels. The rationale for using NMN is that it converts to NAD+ more readily because it is the molecule directly before NAD+ (immediate precursor to NAD+). Once inside the cell, NMN is effective at raising NAD+. However, outside of the cell, NMN derived from diet and/or supplementation must be converted to NR before entering the cell. So, before the body can use NMN, it must be converted to NR and then back into NMN!

Therefore, based on the metabolic use of NR and the clinical evidence of its benefits, 100 mg or 250 mg of NR is a reasonable dosing strategy for boosting levels of NAD+. It can also be paired with resveratrol to encourage healthy sirtuin function, maintain healthy cellular metabolism and support longevity.

Whether alone or paired with resveratrol, supplementing with nicotinamide riboside (NR) to boost NAD+ levels is an evidence-based strategy for promoting health and longevity.10

About the author: Juanita Enogieru is a nutritionist and Life Extension wellness specialist working with the community to build healthy and balanced nutritional habits. While pursuing an education in medicine and attempting to help her body heal, it became apparent that there was a gap in medical practices with regard to nutrition and an abundance of misinformation about balanced nutritional practices. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Health Education from the University of Florida, she worked with non-profit organizations to deliver nutrition education to community members. Wanting to learn more about nutrition and how herbs could be used to help the body heal, she pursued a master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition and shortly began working with Life Extension. With the understanding that everyone has a unique biochemical individuality, it is vital to address each individual based on their specific needs and biochemical make-up. Her mission now is to offer guidance, support and education to individuals based on balanced nutritional insights that address the mind, body and spirit.

References:

  1. Cell Metab. 2018;27(3):529-547.
  2. J Biomed Sci. 2019;26(1):34.
  3. Critical reviews in biochemistry and molecular biology. 2013;48(4):397-408.
  4. Experimental and molecular pathology. 2016;100(2):303-306.
  5. Trends in Cell Biology. 2014;24(8):464-471.
  6. Ageing Res Rev. 2018;47:1-17.
  7. Pharmacol Res. 2018;128:345-358.
  8. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology. 2017;18:610.
  9. Cell Cycle. 2014;13(11):1661-1662.
  10. Translational Medicine of Aging. 2018;2:30-37.

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