10 Surprising Ways Your Body Uses NAD+
NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is a naturally produced molecule essential for the function of your 37.2 trillion cells. It helps activate mechanisms that generate over 90% of your body’s energy and plays a major role in pretty much all of your body’s vital functions.
Here are some of the key roles NAD+ plays when it comes to your health:
1. NAD+ and Aging
A published study in PLOS One provides quantitative evidence that the depletion of NAD+ may play a significant role in the aging process by regulating cellular energy production, DNA repair, and genomic signaling. NAD+ is an important molecule in all cells and is involved in most biological processes. Research suggests that NAD+ declines by up to 65% between your early thirties and age 70. A 2018 review paper highlights the relationship between NAD+ depletion and age-related health conditions and investigates how boosting NAD+ may support healthier aging.
2. NAD+ and Hear Health
NAD+ ensures that your mitochondria produce enough energy to drive cellular function. A decline in mitochondrial count and function in cardiac cells can affect heart health. In conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise, boosting your NAD+ levels helps your mitochondria produce the energy required to keep your heart healthy so you don’t skip a beat.
3. NAD+, Your Nervous System, and Brain
Research supports the hypothesis that boosting cellular NAD+ is important for normal brain function. A recent study showed an increase in brain NAD+ with supplementation of an NAD+ precursor in healthy humans. Consequently, NAD+ precursors can help support healthy neurons in the brain.
4. NAD+ and Muscles
NAD+ is crucial for your muscle health in two ways. Exercise and movement in general require significant energy, and your muscle cells use NAD+ to help fuel contraction and relaxation. Your cells also need to repair themselves from any damage done by those vigorous sessions at the gym, and cellular repair requires NAD+, too.
5. NAD+ and Eye Health
Your tissues and organs need a constant supply of cellular energy to function, and NAD+ plays a crucial role in this supply. One such energy-demanding tissue is the retina. A review article highlighted that declining levels of retinal NAD+ have been linked to health conditions of the retina in preclinical models. UV light exposure can also damage ocular tissues. NAD+ is important in maintaining healthy tissues.
6. NAD+ and Environmental Stressors
Daily environmental factors such as smoking and pollution can trigger oxidative stress, leading to a decline in NAD+ and mitochondrial health. Oxidative stress is an imbalance that’s a byproduct of oxygen metabolism and can cause cellular damage. We’re subject to it every day. NAD+ is an important part of the body’s defense against oxidative stress.
7. NAD+ and Alcohol
Processing alcohol in your body is an energy-expensive project, especially in your all-important liver cells. Your body works hard to metabolize and detox when you drink. On a cellular level, this requires your mitochondria (the power generators inside each of your cells) to kick into overdrive. When you drink alcohol, the liver must work to break it down into a substance called acetate. Without NAD+, this process couldn't occur.
8. NAD+ and Sunlight
Did you know that excess sun exposure can damage your DNA? The good news is that NAD+ can actually help mend broken DNA strands. It’s required by the repair enzymes that help you and your cells bounce back. Maintaining NAD+ levels helps support a family of enzymes called sirtuins that help maintain cellular health and repair cellular damage.
9. NAD+, Fat, and Carbs
NAD+ creation and consumption by your cells is linked to the regulation of fat metabolism and storage. NAD+ also plays an important role in the process of glycolysis, the cycle through which our bodies convert sugars (carbs) into usable energy.
10. NAD+ and Sleep
Misaligned circadian rhythms lead to things like jet lag and sleep deprivation. NAD+ helps regulate circadian rhythms, helping keep energy metabolism, hormone regulation, and body temperature variations all in sync and working at their best.
Massudi, H., Grant, R., Braidy, N., Guest, J., Farnsworth, B., and Guillemin, G. J. (2012). “Age-Associated Changes in Oxidative Stress and NAD+ Metabolism in Human Tissue.” Plos One 7, e42357. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042357.
Janssens, G. E., Grevendonk, L., Perez, R. Z., Schomakers, B. V., Bosch, J. de V. den, Geurts, J. M. W., et al. (2022). “Healthy Aging and Muscle Function Are Positively Associated with NAD+ Abundance in Humans.” Nat Aging 2, 254–263. doi: 10.1038/s43587-022-00174-3.
Aman, Y., Qiu, Y., Tao, J., and Fang, E. F. (2018). “Therapeutic Potential of Boosting NAD+ in Aging and Age-Related Diseases.” Transl Medicine Aging 2, 30–37. doi: 10.1016/j.tma.2018.08.003.
Lautrup, S., Sinclair, D. A., Mattson, M. P., and Fang, E. F. (2019). “NAD+ in Brain Aging and Neurodegenerative Disorders.” Cell Metab 30, 630–655. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2019.09.001.
Vreones et al. (2022) “Oral Nicotinamide Riboside Raises NAD+ and Lowers Biomarkers of Neurodegenerative Pathology in Plasma Extracellular Vesicles Enriched for Neuronal Origin.” Aging Cell Vol. 22, Issue 1. doi: 10.1111/acel.13754.
Jadeja, R. N., Thounaojam, M. C., Bartoli, M., and Martin, P. M. (2020). “Implications of NAD+ Metabolism in the Aging Retina and Retinal Degeneration.” Oxid Med Cell Longev 2020, 2692794. doi: 10.1155/2020/2692794.
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