They might sound like aliens from a low budget Star Trek episode but in fact Sirtuins play a vital role in making sure all the functions of your cells are working at their best. There are 7 different types of Sirtuin but they all have one thing in common…They need to work in harmony with the molecule NAD to do their job properly.
Although Atlantis or the Holy Grain might be mythical ideas for immortality, Sirtuin research has shown how vital they are in the endeavour to beat aging.
Article At a Glance …
Sirtuins are molecules that keep your body healthy
Sirtuins work in harmony with NAD+
NAD+ depletion with age is why Sirtuins don’t work as well when we age.
Boosting NAD+ boosts the sirtuin activity
There has been a lot of interest in the last few years about why we age and what causes aging. A large amount of research for aging discusses two molecules that go hand in hand with each other… Sirtuins and NAD+
So what are Sirtuins?
Sirtuins are proteins in your body that control and change other proteins. If we avoid boring science terms like ‘deacteylation‘ and ‘enzymes’ and instead think of their actions like the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek then Sirtuins are like the senior crew on the bridge who monitor and control all the important areas of their ship. Some are based in the engine room or medical bay, but most are on the bridge with the captain. In your body its very similar with some found in the nucleus ( control room) of your cell and others found in the engine room ( mitochondria) or the cell plasma ( medical bay).
Sirtuins – Enterprising Multi Role Molecules
Just like a starship having a captain and officers for medical, security, engineering and communications you find that sirtuins do the same in your body, controlling functions through messages, repairing DNA, helping to ward of infection and maintain the power reactors of your cells known (remember the energy making bit is called the mitochondria).
Discovery of Sirtuins
In the 1970s just as Captain Kirk stopped wrestling foes on alien planets on our TVs, researchers looking into what controlled aging discovered a gene in Yeast that seemed to play a vital role in aging by making a protein that seemed to play a lot of vital roles in the cell. This gene was named SIRT and so naturally the proteins that the genes coded for were named Sirtuins.
A significant rise in the interest in sirtuins occurred in 1999 when it was reported that high levels of Sirtuins can extend yeast lifespan by as much as 70%. Since then thousands of research papers have been published about Sirtuins and culminated in papers such as this recent one looking at Sirtuins as a way to slow down aging.
What do Sirtuins do ?
Sirtuins have been shown to work in the following areas
- fights aging
- stress resistance
- boosts energy levels
- increases alertness
- controls insulin secretion
- repairs damaged DNA repair
This outline from Columbia University explains why NAD is so vital to so many reactions ( about 500) in the human body.
Sirtuins have needed NAD since long long ago.
Sirtuins cannot do their job properly without the molecule NAD+. This paper in Nature from 2016 explains just how intricately Sirtuins and NAD work together and that all organisms show a common use of this partnership going back to the first simple organisms on earth.
What is NAD+?
NAD+ stands for Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide. It’s a natural molecule found within every living cell of your body. We depend upon NAD+ to convert the nutrients in our food into the energy we need. NAD+ also helps repair damaged DNA and helps your body to stay young and healthy. We cover this in more depth in a blog here. We wrote a blog about its wide range of health benefits too here and have even discussed the role NAD may play in fighting COVID-19 here and here.
The ‘Biological Age’ Challenger
NAD+ acts to help Sirtuins in a number of ways. It can hold on to bits of proteins that sirtuins add or remove, and also act as an energy supply to do the work that Sirtuins need. NAD+ also acts as a messenger molecule, rather like a courier to let sirtuins know where problems in the cell are happening.
NAD+ Levels Decline with Age Affecting Sirtuins
We know that NAD+ levels decline with age so this has a natural knock on effect to how well Sirtuins can do their vital jobs. Its this decrease in NAD+ levels that manifests itself in the cellular aging that we feel as increased tiredness, less energy, mental impairment and a reduced ability to fight infections as we get older. This has become so vital scientists are even looking in to boost NAD+ levels as a way of helping to treat the symptoms of COVID-19.
We’ve recently launched a product called Clockwise that boosts NAD levels in your body in 3 ways
- Boosting the ingredients your body needs to make NAD itself
- Boosting NAD levels directly
- Boosting your body to recycle more used up NAD