NAD+: 10 Most Common Questions About It

metabolism1. What is NAD+?

NAD+ stands for Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. It is a critical coenzyme (participating in catalytic activities of enzymes) present in all living forms. NAD+ coenzyme is sometimes referred to as the “youth molecule” meaning that our youth and healthy aging are dependent on its positive levels.

NAD+ was first found and studied more than 100 years ago by Sir Arthur Harden and his co-scientists. In the years when pellagra took thousands of lives, natural enhancement of NAD+ levels rescued millions more. Since then, more and more scientists have paid close attention to this molecule and its vital role in human longevity. 

Our body survives due to thousands of cellular activities. And NAD+ is always present in these metabolic processes regulating cellular and mitochondrial functions. These functions include energy production, longevity genes expression, DNA repair, and anti-inflammatory activities. NAD+ youth molecule was established to be essential in Sirtuins (longevity genes) activation and metabolic fitness.

2. How is NAD+ formed in the body?

In the body, NAD is synthesized by three pathways: de novo, Preiss-Handler, and Salvage. Most human cells synthesize NAD by the de novo pathway from the amino acid called TRP (tryptophan) or from nicotinic acid (niacin) via the Preiss-Handler pathway.

The highest levels of NAD are synthesized through the Salvage pathway from NAM (Nicotinamide), NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide), or NR (Nicotinamide riboside). The latter pathway has received great interest as a way to increase the amount of NAD+ levels in cells.

3. Why is NAD+ important?

NAD+ is a central molecule in numerous cellular functions and is important for maintaining healthy aging. The high levels of NAD+ are related to stable metabolic functions engulfing age-related degenerative diseases. The elevated levels of NAD+ mitigate 

  • DNA damage through Sirtuin activation
  • premature aging 
  • cellular senescence 
  • neurodegenerative decline

NAD+ plays a key role in boosting mitochondrial functions and energy production for enhancing muscle endurance. Studies show how regular intake of NAD+ precursors can affect muscle function and high energy levels. Also, how high NAD+ levels inhibit age-induced weight gain and obesity in old mice.

4. Why does NAD+ decline with age?

The biggest issue with NAD+ is it declines with age. The cause of this decline is the DNA repair functions that consume loads of NAD+. CD38 and PARP are the main proteins consuming most of the NAD+ levels while fighting disease and protecting cells. 

Sirtuins are also considered to deplete NAD+ but in low amounts. To maintain the levels of NAD+ high, its precursors, and a well-designed diet come

into play.

muscle function decline with age

5. Are declined NAD+ levels related to diseases?

Yes. The declined NAD levels are one of the main causes of age-related diseases. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide is a key player in maintaining a youthful body and promoting longevity genes expression.

Hence, it becomes obvious that declined NAD+ levels negatively affect our healthy aging and metabolic activity bringing 

  • numerous neurodegenerative diseases
  • heart diseases 
  • skeletal instability
  • obesity

6. Does NAD+ affect weight loss?

Obesity being a huge health problem of the 20th century leads to many metabolic disorders including diabetes and premature death. But…

The steady metabolic function is the guarantee of healthy metabolism and a leaner body. This process is regulated by the NAD+ molecule.

Simply put, the conversion of fats, protein, and sugar into energy is strongly correlated to NAD+ levels. But as we already learned, the levels of NAD decline with age leading to poor energy production. Lower NAD+ levels induce slower energy metabolism leading to weight gain and obesity. Hence…

NAD+ augmentation through diet and supplementation stimulates better metabolic functions and weight loss.


7. How do I keep NAD+ levels high?

You can maintain your NAD+ levels high by naturally boosting it through foods containing NAD precursor NMN or NR. NR (also known as niacin) is one of the forms of vitamin B3. Eating food rich in vitamin B3 can help you maintain your NAD levels high.

NMN is another well-known precursor for NAD+ and can also be found in several foods including tomatoes, cucumber, avocados, broccoli, cabbage, and edamame. Plus, you can support your NAD+ levels by doing a moderate amount of exercise (30 mins a day).

Although the mentioned types of food and exercise may maintain your NAD+ levels, they will slightly boost it. Scientists in the longevity field suggest supplementing your diet and lifestyle with NAD+ precursors NMN or NR (also known as NAD boosters).

One of the famous longevity scientists David Sinclair boosts his NAD+ levels with an NMN product along with leading a balanced healthy lifestyle. NMN supplements show a remarkable improvement in metabolic functions, also longevity gene expression.

8. Does NAD+ slow down aging?

Sirtuins are longevity genes that are crucial for 

  • DNA repair
  • regulating physical stress levels
  • improved muscle endurance

But Sirtuin genes do not function alone, they use NAD+ as fuel. Numerous studies on mammals show how increased NAD+ levels affect Sirtuin activation and prolong their lifespan.

Sinclair states “NAD+ is a vital molecule and without it, we would die in seconds” which indicates that high NAD+ levels are key for our longevity and slow aging.

9. Are NAD+ and NADH the same?

During metabolism, NAD is involved in redox reactions by transferring electrons from one molecule to another. Therefore, two forms of NAD are found in cells: NAD+ and NADH. 

In essence, the only difference between NAD+ and NADH is in the hydrogen (H+) molecule. NAD+ has no hydrogen but can bind it and NADH has it but also can give it away.

10. What is the future of NAD+?

Though the NAD+ is a relatively newly discovered molecule, it shows immense promise for the human lifespan. The studies in the longevity field trust the potential of this small molecule to slow down aging.

Clinical studies demonstrate that a regular intake of NAD+ precursors and NAD+ foods increases the levels of this youth molecule. At the present moment, most of the clinical studies are conducted on animal models (mammals). But the future holds the promise of human studies and a better understanding of NAD+ and the effects of its precursors.

Last Updated on April 19, 2022

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