From pills to creams to meditations to exercises, it seems there is a multitude of oft-confusing ways to avoid aging out there. You may know I’m a bit inclined toward ensuring I research some of the more off-the-beaten-path methods of anti-aging and am happy to be the guinea pig who takes cold showers, does stem cell treatments, monitors my telomere length, and injects, swallows, and mainlines many different safe vitamins and well-researched anti-aging health supplements to see what works and what doesn't. Of course, I also do incorporate many of the natural and free strategies I talk about here.
Among the many things you may have seen me talk about in my quest against aging is NAD (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) and experience with 8-hour IV drips of NAD and faster NAD push-IVs.
After all, when we talk about anything relating to aging, what we’re really talking about is cellular degeneration. Many of the signs of aging are often just the symptoms of a failing cellular mechanism or mitochondrial damage. And what do many cells need to operate at peak health? NAD. It’s crucial to many of the processes a cell carries out which benefit our bodies in numerous ways. This is why I believe increasing NAD in the body should be a top priority for anyone trying to support their health as they age. You're about to discover why, and how to do just that.
The Signs Of Aging
There’s nothing like discovering your first gray hair or looking into the mirror and realizing even when you stop squinting the lines around your eyes stay put. The signs of aging are abundant, and yet you may not be noticing the less obvious warning signs that should be convincing you it's time to take action to prevent the decline in health and body that occurs as you grow older. You may have already seen or are on the lookout for any of the following easy-to-notice physical signs of aging that can be determined even without the type of bloodwork I talk about here: A Deep Dive Into How To Interpret The Results Of Your Blood Testing – Ben Greenfield Reveals & Walks You Through His Laboratory Results From WellnessFX.
- Hair Loss/Thinning – More hairs going down the drain than usual during showers or finding more strands in your brush or on your clothes.
- Hair Graying – Transition of hair color to either gray or white depending on your genetics.
- Receding Hairline – Male-pattern baldness or thinning at the temples.
- Turkey Neck/Sagging Skin – Loose skin you can gather between your fingers or even just the hooded eye skin drooping its way down your eyelid.
- Sagging Breasts – Your bosom may simply not quite stand to attention the way it used to.
- Sun Damage – This includes everything from spots on your hands, face, and shoulders to dryness and “leathery” skin.
- Fine Lines And Wrinkles – Some of them become less “fine” than others and the grooves only get deeper as the years go by.
- Bunions – From years of wearing the wrong footwear or walking irregularly due to injury, risk for these tend to increase with age.
- Yellowing Teeth – Even if you lay off the coffee and wine, enamel depletes with age and your teeth show the signs of a weakened state.
- Decreased Testosterone & Growth Hormones – Along with this comes decreased drive, sexual dysfunction, hot flashes, mood swings, and a host of other unwanted side effects.
- Insomnia and Bad Sleep – Your circadian rhythms get thrown for a loop as you produce less melatonin.
- Forgetfulness and Memory Loss – Not to be confused with Alzheimer’s, dementia or any major mental illness, but a decline in cellular energy means your brains have less cognitive power and begin making errors.
- Weight Gain – Usually this has more to do with a lack of energy, a lowered metabolism, and bad diet, but finding it harder to lose or maintain weight is also part of aging.
- General Fatigue – This is (in many people’s opinions) the worst symptom of aging and involves losing the energy to exercise, keep up a social life, and even do meaningful work (which just feeds into the myth that we become less capable as we get older).
Everything mentioned above is only the eventual outward symptoms of what’s happening inside our bodies at a cellular level. As you age, your cells decline in their ability to be able to resist stress and damage, resulting in a gradual loss of cellular function that leads to many of the physical issues listed above. So it stands to reason that if you can prevent cellular aging, you can prevent the signs of aging in general.
A molecule called NAD can help support cellular health. Even if it can’t solve every problem associated with aging, it’s worth learning more about.
What Is NAD?
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD, is a coenzyme discovered over 100 years ago by scientists studying fermentation. NAD aids in the cell’s process of turning nutrients into the energy is necessary for metabolism. Your cells turn the energy stored in the food you eat into cellular energy (ATP). As part of the whole assembly line of operations that occur within a cell to get your organs to function, NAD is a crucial factory worker. If you appreciate your heart pumping, lungs breathing, muscles contracting, food digesting, etc. then you already have a healthy appreciation for NAD and the cellular energy it helps to produce.
The second role this molecule plays within our cells is to boost the activity of sirtuins, which are important proteins used by cells. When sirtuins are activated and doing their jobs, they support cellular maintenance and repair. Sirtuins have been implicated in influencing a wide range of cellular processes like aging, transcription, apoptosis, inflammation and stress resistance, as well as energy efficiency and alertness during low-calorie situations. Sirtuins can also control circadian clocks and mitochondrial biogenesis.
So your cells need NAD and your body is capable of creating it, but as you age, your cells take on a lot of stress and NAD is rapidly consumed as the cells cope. Metabolic stresses such as overeating and consuming alcohol can contribute even further to the depletion of NAD. Worse still, NAD decreases as we get older – a 60-year-old is likely to have half the count of NAD that they did at 40.
So now you’re probably wondering what’s the best way to get more NAD, aside from the costly IVs I’ve spoken of already, and discuss in detail in my last two podcasts with Tom Ingoglia here and here, and also in my recent podcast with Dr. Craig Koniver here.
Preclinical research shows that exercising and calorie restriction can both aid in upping NAD levels. These are two strategies I already advocate for and just make sense as part of a holistic health regimen. However, one of the easiest ways to naturally increase NAD without an IV is via supplements, more specifically the B3 vitamins I discussed here in my podcast with Dr. Charles Brenner (but as you’ll discover later, not all B3s are created equal when it comes to producing NAD).
Through its essential role in cellular energy production, NAD contributes, in early cellular stages, to basically every bodily function we notice or don’t notice but appreciate subconsciously. Here are just a few ways our bodies use NAD each day:
- Exercise Performance and Recovery – When we exercise, cells in our muscles go to work generating boatloads of cellular energy. NAD is crucial to this process. After a workout, NAD also helps restore muscles and aids in the work cells perform to build muscle. Our ability to recover from workouts, a thing that seems to get harder as we age, is reliant on NAD doing its job. And working out is essential to avoiding declining muscle mass, another common component of aging.
- Processing Alcohol – NAD is required for both of the chemical reactions that detoxify alcohol in the liver. Drinking can lower the liver’s NAD resources as the liver processes the alcohol we’ve consumed. You may notice it takes less alcohol to induce a hangover as you get older or that a little alcohol goes a long way and it’s easier to get tipsy or outright drunk, even accidentally. Obviously, I recommend discretion when drinking and a healthy self-awareness of your limits, but also understanding how your cells help you to bounce back when you’ve had a bit too much comes in handy.
- Skin and Sun Exposure – Skin is the largest organ of our bodies and thus requires a massive amount of cells and cellular regeneration to maintain. Your skin is exposed to quite a few stressors, the sun being our skin’s most bitter enemy if overexposure to UVA and UVB occurs. NAD activates certain proteins in skin cells to help signal when and where sun-related damage has occurred. It’s no coincidence wrinkles are among the earliest signs of aging. A wrinkle is basically a line of skin cells that have lost their ability to hold up the skin and have thus caved in. Interestingly, a recent preclinical study with mice linked the appearance of skin wrinkles directly to cellular mitochondrial health.
- Circadian Rhythms – It isn’t just the earth that’s set on a very strict 24-hr schedule – your bodies also rely on daily rhythmic biological processes to keep you going. These circadian rhythms are integral to overall metabolism and health. NAD aids in cells maintaining their daily rhythms by helping to regulate circadian clocks at the cellular level. When faced with the mass confusion of facing a time zone change or spending too much time in the dark, our cells work overtime keeping up those rhythms. As long as our cells keep up the pace, everything can readjust and get back on schedule. When we don’t, boy do we feel it.
- Breathing & Oxidative Stress – There are sometimes ways we can give our hardworking cells a break. After all, you do have the option of giving up alcohol or getting more sleep to rejuvenate yourself. But one thing we can’t stop doing is breathing and delivering oxygen throughout our bodies. As this oxygen is consumed by cells, free radicals can be produced that lead to oxidative stress. And the air you breathe contains more than just oxygen. Other sources of free radicals include air pollutants, chemicals, cigarette smoke and other issues I discuss in my last comprehensive article on air pollution. Fortunately, NAD and its molecular cousin NADP can arm your cells to counteract this stress and mop up free radicals.
To figure out how to get more NAD into your cells, you must first understand how vitamin B3 contributes to NAD.
Understanding The Vitamin B3s
There are actually 8 different vitamins that make up the B vitamin complex, one of which is B3. B3 vitamins are precursors to NAD, meaning they are basically ingredients that your body uses to create more NAD through cellular chemical processes. But there are three forms of B3, and the newest one to be discovered, nicotinamide riboside (NR), is the one scientists are getting especially excited about.
The B3 most people are familiar with is niacin (nicotinic acid). Niacin is available in supplement form and is also ingested in food because it is found in eggs, yeast, fish, meat, milk, green vegetables, and cereal grains. Since the 1930s people have used niacin for treating pellagra, which is a B3 deficiency caused by a lack of diet variety. However, niacin has the very annoying side effect of skin flushing and can create a red, warm face, an overall feeling of body warmth and tingly fingers.
The second of the B3s is nicotinamide, also known as niacinamide. This one’s much like niacin, but minus the painful skin flushing and without the useful cholesterol-lowering capabilities. Although it’s an NAD precursor, it deactivates sirtuins, those very useful longevity genes I mentioned earlier.
Then there's nicotinamide riboside (NR), the most recently discovered B3 and a unique B3 when it comes to producing NAD. I interviewed the man who discovered the pathway that converts NR to NAD, Dr. Charles Brenner, on my podcast and got the skinny on exactly why NR is the superior B3 vitamin and all the benefits that it produces by supporting healthy, well-functioning cells.
NR serves as an NAD precursor and also activates sirtuins to jump in and do their job. Plus, it doesn’t cause flushing. Trace amounts of NR are found in milk, but you’d have to drink a heck of a lot of it to get the benefits of NR and in my opinion, the calories and high amounts of dairy proteins aren’t worth it.
TRU NIAGEN, The NAD Superbooster
If you listened to my podcast or read the transcript of my talk with Dr. Charles Brenner, you probably know a bit already about the supplement TRU NIAGEN, a B3 supplement in the form of NR. After Dr. Brenner discovered that cells can use NR as a precursor to NAD, interest in his work soared. Nutraceutical company ChromaDex licensed the patents for NR from Dartmouth College and asked Dr. Brenner to be their Chief Scientific Advisor.
Together they developed TRU NIAGEN, an NR supplement that has been clinically proven to increase NAD levels. By increasing NAD, TRU NIAGEN promotes cellular energy production. One capsule of TRU NIAGEN contains 150mg of the active ingredient NIAGEN nicotinamide riboside chloride, a patented and FDA safety-reviewed form of vitamin B3, as well as the inactive ingredients microcrystalline cellulose and hypromellose.
There have been over 150 scientific articles published around NR since 2004, many of them reflecting the positive effect NR has on NAD production. These include more than 100 preclinical studies published on the science behind NR and more than 20 human clinical trials published and ongoing. Specifically, the active ingredient in TRU NIAGEN, “NIAGEN nicotinamide riboside”, has been studied in four published human trials, which is more than any other NR supplement you’ll hear about.(See trials 1, 2, 3 & 4) From those trials, TRU NIAGEN has proven to safely and effectively increase NAD. NIAGEN has twice been successfully reviewed under FDA's new dietary ingredient (NDI) notification program and has also been successfully notified to the FDA as generally recognized as safe (GRAS).
Currently, I take 1-2 capsules NR TRU NIAGEN in the morning, then again in the afternoon (it works best when taken twice a day to support normal circadian rhythm). I still do the NAD IVs too, but I use the NR in between the IVs to maintain my levels as high as possible. I also take extra NR after drinking more than two glasses of alcohol, traveling across multiple time zones, or any time I’ve put excess stress on my body.
You can get NR from TRU NIAGEN, and for your convenience, below I'm including all posts and podcasts I've done about NR or NAD in the past should you want to take a deeper dive.
Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for me about NR or NAD? Leave your comments below and I will reply!