To understand how we age, we have to look at the underlying core processes of our bodies. As we age, our bodies slow down. Our joints ache, our muscles grow weary, and the way we sleep and eat changes. But the true culprits of how we age lie deep within our cells. Cells are the foundation of our biology, and improving their efficiency may hold the key to answer the fundamental question, “Is there a way for us to turn back the clock?”
No miracle pill reverses aging, but scientists began investigating a specific organelle in the cell, called the mitochondria. Research shows we make fewer mitochondria as we age and have attributed mitochondrial dysfunction as one of the hallmarks of aging. You may remember mitochondria from your high school biology class. These tiny yet powerful factories are responsible for producing 90% of your cell’s energy. Without our mitochondria, we would not exist as the complex organisms we are today.
But the mitochondria can’t take all the credit. There are several processes behind the inner workings of our mitochondria that keep it functioning properly. One of which is the critical coenzyme called NAD+.
What Is NAD+?
NAD+ functions as an essential delivery mechanism for the cell. If the mitochondria were the cell’s power plants, NAD+ acts as the delivery trucks that send critical supplies in the docking bay. Their payload provides the resources needed to maintain mitochondrial function.
Unfortunately, there is evidence to suggest that age has a direct correlation to our NAD+ levels. Research from the University of New South Wales uncovered NAD+ levels decline by over 50% between the ages of 40 and 60 and low levels of NAD+ are linked to mitochondrial inefficiency.
Thankfully, a paper published in the Translational Medicine of Aging shows the positive potential of boosting NAD+. The paper states, “NAD+ replenishment may serve as a potential therapeutic strategy for aging and multiple conditions to improve the quality of life of the increasing aged population.”
So Why Don’t We Just Take More NAD+?
It’s not as simple as we hoped. NAD+ is very difficult to maintain in capsule form and there are questions around its potency as a supplement. The molecule quickly degrades when exposed to light and heat and deteriorates when exposed to water.
Even if it were to maintain its pill-form, your body doesn’t appear to take NAD+ as readily. A paper in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology shows that our digestive process breaks down orally-administered NAD+ into common NAD+ precursors before the cells get a chance to absorb it.
To simplify the process for our bodies, researchers examined NAD+ precursors instead. NAD+ precursors already exist in the staple diet today, more commonly known as vitamin B3. However, most of the available vitamin B3 comes in the form of niacin. Niacin has been around for some time but its unsightly symptom of skin flushing challenged researchers to look elsewhere.
Nicotinamide riboside, the active ingredient behind Tru Niagen®, is a novel form of vitamin B3 that seems to give you the best of both worlds. It’s not only absent of skin flushing symptoms, but it also raises NAD+ more efficiently than other vitamin B3s.
Many studies are underway surrounding the potential beneficial effects of nicotinamide riboside on a variety of other health issues. And scientists are beginning to expand the possibilities of including the ingredient in bigger conversations around maintaining general wellbeing as we age.
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