Is it really the anti-aging molecule of the fountain of youth?
Figure 1. Scientists are now discovering many new and exciting ways that NAD+ facilitates health and longevity.
NAD+ is the chemical short name for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. David Sinclair stated that NAD+ levels markedly decline as we and other creature get older, creating many problems including energy deficiencies, which decreases the body’s ability to retain many important vital functions.
Figure 2. Structure of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). The oxidized form is often written (NAD+). (Image: NEUROtiker/Wikimedia)
What are normal levels in a teenager? How fast do the levels of NAD+ drop as we age? A person may have only half the NAD+ they started out with by the time they reach 55 years of age if they are very healthy and fit. At about eighty-five years of age in humans, NAD+ levels drop as low as just one percent of what we see in youthful humans. Will increasing NAD+ levels help humans the same way they did for mice? It is the 64-billion-dollar question. The hot supplement is being sold and promoted by the researchers themselves, which is a clear conflict of interests. What does this new vitamin look like? The chemical structure looks like many other vitamin B structures.
Figure 3a and 3b. Structures of nicotinamide riboside, the precursor to NAD and Niacin.
Current theory is that deficiency of NAD+ is certain to accelerate aging and impedes our ability to fully benefit from resveratrol and other supplements. Fortunately, it is easy to restore your cellular NAD+ to higher ranges. There is growing evidence that supplementing with a vitamin-like precursor of NAD+ can promote longevity in life forms ranging from simple worms to mammals like mice and maybe to men and women as well.
Nicotinamide Riboside (NR), is marketed as a nutritional supplement to boost NAD+. Harvard researcher Dr. David Sinclair’s recent reports sparked consumer excitement resulting in millions of people buying NR under the trademark NIAGEN. Niagen is manufactured and marketed by several companies in 250 mg and smaller capsules. One manufacturer, ChromaDex, is a publicly traded company located in Irvine, California. Sinclair’s recent paper ignited even more interest in Niagen.
To date, no large-scale human clinical trials are complete. Yet there is significant movement in the value of the stocks in companies selling NR or Niagen as a supplement to create higher levels of NAD+, They do create higher level of NAD+ in humans according two small scale trials in humans. Even though there is no evidence yet of medical benefit or increased longevity, only hope.
As a co-factor in cell energy transfer, NAD+ plays a critical role in regulating aging processes. Found in all living cells, NAD+ is essential to life. NAD+ is exciting because so many mechanisms have been shown to be significant to prevent aging or reduce the rate of aging in mammals. NAD+ has a dual role in protecting against factors that cause aging. This includes mitigating chemical stress, inflammation, DNA damage, failing mitochondria, and much more, which we will discuss later in this series of blogs.
At the same time, NAD+ promotes longevity by facilitating DNA repair and providing cellular benefits associated with caloric restriction and exercise, according to researchers B Poljsak and I. Milisav of the Linus Pauling Institute in 2016.
A significant decline in NAD+ levels can negatively influence lifespan; restoring NAD+ is increasingly being viewed as a cutting-edge tool to promote long life in mice. I could possibly increase longevity by three times. One cautionary note is the lack of double-blind clinical trials on humans in the scientific literature. However, in animal models, NAD+ has been shown to extend lifespans. In addition, research shows that NAD+ is needed for healthy chromosomes.
In future blogs, I will address new human trials, including my own, and hopefully as clinical trials are published on double-blind human studies they might provide evidence. I am following these trials closely and will report the facts as soon as clinical trials in humans are underway. One great paper published in Cell is briefly summarized below. These positive results in mice do not tell us what will happen in humans. We do know that human trails have shown a rise in NAD+ in humans taking 1 gram a day of nicotinamide mononucleotide type supplement. This does not tell us that humans will triple or double their lifespan. We need serious and large-scale double-blind studies to find out.
Figure 4. Long-Term Administration of Nicotinamide Mononucleotide Mitigates Age-Associated Physiological Decline in Mice Published in Cell Metabolism Online
Kathryn F. Mills, Shohei Yoshida, Liana R. Stein, Alessia Grozio, Shunsuke Kubota, Yo Sasaki, Philip Redpath, Marie E. Migaud, Rajendra S. Apte, Koji Uchida, Jun Yoshino. Cell. 13 December 2016. Volume 24, Issue 6, p795–806. [Correspondence information: e-mail the authors Jun Yoshino, Shin-ichiro Imai, firstname.lastname@example.org (S.I.) Please note that other correspondence information about the authors is given in the original paper.]
Figure 5 shows the chromosomes with red caps or telomeres.
The telomeres shown above in Figure 5, are made up of repetitive DNA strands represented by red caps on the ends of chromosomes. Like the hands of a clock, telomeres at the ends of our chromosomes steadily tick away until they reach the end of our life, which is a measure of cell replication. Once telomeres reach a critically short length, cell production and/or replication stops. It is like the watch has run out of power, leading to cell death and aging. The cell needs to be given a winding, new battery, or charge. Telomere shortening is both a marker of cellular aging and a predictor of lifespan.
This blog briefly summarizes a possible anti-aging mechanism involving NAD+ in the human body, i.e., NAD+ may contribute to longer telomeres but not too long. Dr. Sinclair has shown that NAD+ is required for functioning of the sirtuin proteins that contribute to longevity—and specifically to maintaining the length of critical telomeres. Not too long and not too short is the key. Ideally, we would like a process to maintain the best length to slow aging.
Yes, we can change these things in mice. Other nutrients such as NAD+ have been shown to extend lifespan in mice. Will it work in humans? Stay tuned to this website to find out, or read the 30th Century trilogy, starting with the award-winning 30th Century: Escape by Mark Kingston Levin PhD. Hopefully, the clinical trials will be over by then and you will learn about symbiotes that can manage the correct length of telomeres for 800 years, the average lifespan of humans in the trilogy’s imagining of the 30th century.
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Dr. Levin was born and grew up in Vermont with many winters spent in Florida as a child. As a teenager he wrote poetry, served as a lifeguard and played football. He currently enjoys sailing, exploring underwater caves, snorkeling, writing science fiction and other pursuits. After working on the Apollo and Mars projects, he returned to school to study under Nobel Laureate Paul Dirac, obtaining his PhD in 2.5 years. Dr. Levin founded two companies and served the science policy apparatus in President Ford’s administration. He has been published over 44 times in scientific literature and was awarded over 32 US patents. The science fiction writer is now emerging with his first work, a trilogy entitled 30th Century. The first award-winning book, 30th Century: Escape, is currently available on Amazon. Book two in the series, 30th Century: Revived, will be out in April 2018.