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NAD: In Aid of Body Metabolism, Digestion, and Cell Growth

NAD+ is one form of the coenzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). As coenzymes, they are organic compounds or molecules used in the body to help enzymes initiate reactions or functions. 

They can help in theimportant reactions that are part of digestion, cell growth, energy metabolism, or other important roles in the body. The body primarily manufactures NAD+ from enzymes, amino acids (proteins), and vitamins you eat, such as tryptophan, aspartic acid and niacin, also called vitamin B3.

Like many things in our body, the amount of NAD+ your body produces naturally starts to decline as you get older. This may lead to low levels and impact your health. NAD+ depletion is associated with health conditions and age-related changes.

This includes such metabolic problems as diabetes and fatty liver disease, cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attack, and high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, and other mental health disorders (depression and cognitive deficits).

NAD+ vs. NADH

NAD+ and NADH are two versions of the same compound nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide.

NAD+ represents the oxidized form of NAD, meaning it has lost or dropped off an electron. This type of reaction with gaining and losing an electron is called a redox reaction. 

NADH represents the reduced form of NAD, meaning it has regained the lost electron and is ready to transport it to a different molecule. The letter H in the acronym stands for hydrogen and represents the more active form of NAD. 

Molecule transfer

Actually, the NAD molecules frequently switch back and forth between these two forms as they move electrons around for metabolic reactions. The NAD+ as an empty taxi cab, waiting to pick up a passenger (the electron). 

Once the passenger is picked up, it becomes full (NADH) and moves to take the passenger to its destination (the next reaction). 

Experts believe the ratio of NAD+ molecules to NADH molecules is just as important, if not more so, than the amount of total circulating NAD+. The ratio appears to decline with age, with the number of NAD+ decreasing and NADH increasing. 

NAD+

NAD+ is the carrier of electrons from one molecule to another to help facilitate reactions and metabolic processes in the body. It plays an important role in energy metabolism and healthy cell function.

NAD+ is essential for mitochondria. This is the part of cells that turns the nutrients from food into energy so we can function properly. 

Mitochondria

The mitochondria use the redox reaction of NAD+ and NADH for both anaerobic (without oxygen) and aerobic (with oxygen) metabolism. As NAD+ levels decline from aging, the mitochondria may become damaged or not perform as effectively. 

Mitochondrial dysfunction may lead to symptoms like fatigue and tiredness, weakness and low endurance when exercising, stunted growth, blindness and hearing loss, l  Low blood sugar and diabetes.

In addition, there would be learning problems and changes in cognitive functions, seizures, stroke-like activity, heart, kidney, and liver diseases and an increase in psychiatric symptoms.

Sirtuins

Another group of proteins that turn genes on and off are called Sirtuins. They also are responsible in DNA repair, protecting cells from age-related changes, and regulate other metabolic pathways in the body. 

Research suggests that NAD+ regulates the activity of sirtuins, and changes in NAD levels impact their function. 

Age-related diseases

An important step in slowing down age-related diseases and health changes could be in maintaining healthy NAD+. Although more research is needed to truly understand the impact of NAD metabolism, there is some research to suggest beneficial effects like increased brain health and memory.

The cellular NAD are used by the body when repairing DNA and nerve cells. Changes in memory and cognitive function are common complaints as people get older. Some research suggests maintaining NAD+ levels helps to slow down and prevent the age-related memory and cognitive changes that many people experience. 

NAD supplements

NAD supplements may support healthier brain function throughout the lifespan. NAD+ helps support energy levels and metabolism. Because your body isn’t able to efficiently process food into energy without NAD, inadequate NAD+ levels may impact how energized you feel.

Metabolic conditions like high blood pressure and others take a toll on the health of blood vessels and arteries. Some research shows that NAD+ supplements can help protect blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and reduce stiffness in the aortic artery.

Lowering cholesterol

NAD+ also protects your heart health by helping your lipid metabolism to lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk for blocked blood vessels. NAD+ precursors, research shows, help prevent and reverse lipid accumulation. 

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can be done by increasing your NAD+ levels. The impact NAD+ has on metabolism may partially explain some troubles people have with maintaining a healthy weight as they age. 

Some animal research shows that mice taking NAD+ supplements experienced less weight gain while eating a high-fat diet than those not taking NAD+. 

NAD supplements, early research suggests, may help protect against the development of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. This may come from protecting cells from damage caused by oxidation and reducing inflammation. 

Side effects

On the whole, NAD supplements seem to be safe for most people with little to no side effects. However, most clinical trials are short-term, so the long-term effects of these supplements are poorly understood as yet.

NAD+ dosage

There are many options available for NAD+ supplements. Typically, they are created with one or more precursors to NAD+.  These include Nicotinamide riboside (NR), Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), Nicotinic acid and Nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT).

The se precursors are used by the body to increase the amount of NAD+ circulating in the bloodstream. Research is ongoing to find the best precursor and doses are still unclear and could vary for specific conditions. (Talk with your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement.)

Lifestyle changes 

You can boost your NAD+ levels (in addition to NAD supplementation) through diet and lifestyle changes. Studies suggest that fasting and calorie restriction can help preserve and increase NAD+ levels.

A nutritious diet can help stimulate its production of NAD+. Some of the foods with precursors include turkey, cabbage, cucumber, edamame, and shrimp. Exercise, like cardio, weight training, and HIIT workouts, helps stimulate the growth of skeletal muscles and maintain NAD+ levels.

NAD helps repair skin cells from damage caused by UV rays. the preserve the NAD levels, reduce the body’s demands for them by protecting your skin by wearing sunscreen daily.

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