A molecule in our body called NAD+ plays an important part in aging and health in our bodies. In this NAD Health Benefits Guide we look at what NAD is, how it works and the benefits of boosting your body NAD levels with a supplement as we get older.
Intro to NAD
Scientists have discovered that our levels of NAD+ decline with age by 50% every 20 years. Low NAD+ levels are a problem because NAD+ plays a vital role in the way our bodies work and we cannot live without it. When levels of NAD+ are low it gets harder for our cells to produce energy, repair DNA and do vital cell maintenance.
What is NAD+
NAD+ stands for Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide. It’s a natural molecule found within every living cell of your body. When you are young your body naturally makes high levels of NAD+ but as you age these levels can fall by 50% every 20 years. We depend upon NAD+ to convert the nutrients in our food into the energy we need. NAD+ also helps repair damaged DNA and activates a wide range of essential things your body does to stay young and healthy. We wrote a more in depth blog about what NAD is here.
Why does NAD decline with age?
When your body is young it naturally makes and retains high levels of NAD+. But as you age the NAD+ in your body drops significantly. There are two main reasons why NAD+ declines with age.
Your NAD+ Factory Gets Worse with Age
Your cells cannot absorb NAD+ directly from nutrients in our food but has to manufacture it for themselves. The problem here is that old cells are not as good as young cells at manufacturing the NAD+ they need. This is because one of the main molecules called NAMPT that encourages NAD+ creation decreases as we get older.
Here’s how this NAD+ ‘salvage pathway‘ works. When NAD+ is used up by the cells it gets ‘spent’. The role of NAMPT is to recycle ‘spent’ NAD back into NAD+ using a special recycle pathway. Think of NAMPT as acting like a super skilled sorter of all your trash into the right recycling boxes in your body.
Old cells don’t have enough NAMPT to do this efficiently, so the spent NAD doesn’t get efficiently recycled back into fresh NAD+. Instead it gets removed from the cell and is effectively wasted. The net effect over time is a decline in NAD+ levels because old cells are less efficient at recycling their own NAD+.
NAD+ Older Houses Need More Maintenance
NAD+ is used up much faster in old cells because they have to work harder to fix damage that has accumulated throughout our lives. For example, increased DNA damage in older cells leads to DNA repair enzymes being more active and therefore requiring more NAD+ to do their vital work. Its like an old building needing more frequent visits from a handyman to keep everything working.
More Maintenance and Less Recycling means our NAD+ levels drop twice as fast as we age
This imbalance between NAD+ recycling efficiency and rising NAD+ demand explains why our levels of NAD+ decline by around 50% every 20 years. As we age our body has to fight over a dwindling supply of NAD+ that continues to shrink as the years pass. More pipes burst in the older house, more lights need repair and all while this goes on the recycling piles up outside in all the wrong places.
NAD+ Makes you Feel Great
When your NAD+ levels are high it makes you feel great and boosts the energy you need to stay strong and enjoy life.
Until recently the only way to boost NAD+ levels with scientific credibility was to supplement with precursors like NR and NMN.
Precursor supplements do actually increase cellular NAD+ levels, which is good, but the boost they give is only modest (40-60%) and hits a premature limit. Precursors like NR and NMN struggle to lift NAD+ back to the high levels young people enjoy, which is what older individuals need for effective cell rejuvenation.
This limitation of precursors has been revealed by scientific data showing that simply increasing the dose of precursor does not mean the body makes more NAD+ (Trammell et al. 2016). To explain why this happens we need to understand the importance of the cellular NAD+ Salvage Pathway and why its gradual failure over time really matters.
NAD+ The Benefits of Recycling in Your Body
Our cells can make nearly all of the NAD+ they need by recycling ‘used’ niacinamide. When we are young this ‘recycling centre’ works perfectly and we hardly need to top up our niacinamide levels.
In our older cells they don’t have the recycling capacity they once did, which means over time our levels of NAD+ drift downwards as cells struggle to recycle ‘waste’ niacinamide back into NAD+.
If you want to recycle better you don’t buy MORE stuff
Think about this. If you were having trouble separating your trash into the right places for your recycling, and were starting to put cardboard in the plastics bit and plastics in the normal trash by accident the LAST thing you would do to improve your recycling overall would be to simply buy more food items and put more recycling items in the the wrong places in the trash.
You can not begin to understand why simply topping up NAD+ levels with a precursor like NR or NMN seems like a good idea to most people but there’s a problem. The modest NAD+ boost provided by precursors is soon used up by the cell and crowds your already creaking recycling centre with more trash in the wrong place. You wont be surprised to find out that most of this is simply thrown away by your body.
The companies that sell supplementation to boost NAD+ in mature cells are like trying to boost production in an old car factory. Trucking more raw steel through the factory gate will never increase the output of new cars when the machines are worn out, the production line is under staffed and most of the raw material is, quite literally, ‘leaking’ back out.
NAD Health Benefits
Scientists have demonstrated that boosting NAD+ back to the high levels people enjoy when they’re young will rejuvenate old cells back to a state of youth. This leads to multiple beneficial effects against ageing. Scientific studies have demonstrated that increasing cellular NAD+ in elderly mice resulted in the repair of DNA damage to the point where the tissues of elderly mice were comparable to those of juvenile mice. A growing body of scientific research now suggests one of the best ways to combat ageing is to maintain high levels of NAD+ because it plays a key role in:
NAD+ Boosts Body Energy Levels
NAD is the main thing that takes the food we eat and turns it in to energy. It does this in every cell by helping to burn fats and proteins into energy. The more NAD+ you have available the more ammo your cells have to make energy.
NAD Activates genes that makes you live longer
Research here discusses the effects NAD has on various genes in the body associated with ageing. There is also a wider discussion here in Scientific American about how many anti-ageing genes are turned on by NAD. We aren’t saying that NAD is some kind of Fountain of Youth, because there are many other factors involved with ageing, but we are saying that having youthful high levels of NAD ha an effect in ageing.
NAD helps DNA self-repair
This research from 2017 explains how important NAD is with DNA damage and repair. In your cells NAD also acts as a signaler to other molecules to show and guide repair molecules to areas of the DNA that are damaged.
NAD helps Maintain Mental Sharpness
There is considerable research discussing the role that reducing NAD levels plays with mental decline. There are also researchers that are looking at NAD as a potential tool to slow or combat Alzheimers and Dementia as well.
NAD Restores Muscle Strength and Stamina
Interestingly there is research here that suggest exercise, muscle fitness and NAD levels are intricately linked. We all know about the benefits of regular exercise to stay healthy and that exercise can boost NAD levels, but it also looks like boosted NAD levels also return the favor by helping with muscle and fitness performance too.
NAD Helps with Your Sleep/ Wake Cycles
Research here discusses how important NAD is to regulating your sleep/wake cycle ( also known as your circadian rhythm). When you think about how easily children sleep ANYWHERE and how older people often have troubled sleep its not a surprise to think that NAD plays an important role here.
NAD Protects your liver
This fascinating recent article in Nature discusses the role NAD plays in protecting the liver from damage from poor diet and drinking alcohol.
NAD+ Is your Bodies Natural ‘Antivirus Software’
When a virus infects your body, it must enter your cells in order to survive. This is because viruses cannot multiply without tricking you into helping by hijacking your cells to make copies of themselves. Once sufficient copies have been made, infected cells burst and new copies of the virus are released to infect neighbouring cells.
Fortunately, our bodies have evolved a system that allows infected cells to alert the immune system that they are under attack. They do this by displaying fragments of the virus on their cell surface, which act as warning flags to alert the body that they are infected. This allows circulating immune cells in the blood to recognise infected cells and take action to remove them. This process is called the “Innate Immune System” and it is the body’s first line of defence against viral infection.
Research shows that low NAD+ levels may change your Immune System as you age. This is because NAD+ helps control a group of molecules in your body called “sirtuins”. Sirtuins contribute to the proper function of your immune system. Increased activation of sirtuins has been shown to prevent viruses multiplying in your body and a the same study showed that a decrease in sirtuin activation ( because NAD+ was at lower levels) caused viruses to multiply more quickly.
Restoring your bodies NAD+ levels ( which boosts sirtuin activity) may therefore be a good way to boost your immune system and protect yourself from viral infections
Natural Ways to Boost Your NAD+ Levels
Boost NAD – Avoid Sunlight
We all know that we need to cover up and wear sunscreen to avoid skin aging and skin cancer, but research into NAD also suggests that excessive sunlight on your skin can lead to depletion of NAD levels as well so this gives you even more reasons to wear a hat in the summer.
Ketogenic Diets help boost NAD
There is significant evidence in research literature to suggest a ketogenic diet also helps boost NAD+ levels. You can find out more here. We also have a range of keto based products on our site here.
Exercise boosts NAD levels
We already discussed the link between NAD levels and exercise and how the mutually boost each other.
NAD+ Trubrain Clockwise – become NAD+ Efficient again
TruBrain Clockwise has pioneered a new approach to boosting NAD+ that addresses the underlying problems that cause age-related NAD+ decline, meaning that it doesn’t need NR or NMN precursors to achieve fantastic results.
Hopefully this guide will have given you everything you need to know about NAD including what it is, and the important and wide range of roles it plays in the body. You can also see the wide range of health benefits it has when the levels are higher in your body and its important role in helping to combat the signs of aging and maintaining a healthy body.
Find out more about our latest NAD+ product Clockwise here.