Have you ever wondered what it would be like when you start aging? If you have already started aging, or are worried about the problems that would arise when you eventually do, you are not alone.
Do you wish you could do something to stall it or keep it at bay for a long time? Thankfully, anti-aging science has made great strides in achieving just that. We may not be there yet but the recent progress in the area is certainly promising.
What Does Anti-Aging Entail?
For some, anti-aging means just fixing how old you look and removing any wrinkles and kinks in the skin. True anti-aging, however, goes much beyond that. True anti-aging goes at the root of aging and aims to stall aging by fixing the problems there.
Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+) and Aging
The recent research about a molecule called Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+) has unlocked great potential for anti-aging solutions. NAD is an essential component for the survival of life. It is present in all living things from single-cellular organisms to large and complex animals like primates and human beings.
Following is the chemical structure of NAD+.
NAD+ plays many vital functions in the functioning of our body. In essence, without NAD+, mitochondria cannot function and without mitochondria, there would be no energy generation in our bodies, thus leading to our deaths.
As our bodies age, the total available amount of NAD+ starts declining. This decline causes the symptoms and diseases often associated with aging to appear.
The following figure shows the phenomenon of NAD+ decline with age.
NAD+ Decline with Aging
As NAD+ declines, the amount of NAD+ precursors needed to replenish the NAD+ supply also begins to drop. Thus, the decline in overall NAD+ production plays a major part in diseases and symptoms related to aging.
Nicotinamide Riboside: A NAD+ Precursor
Nicotinamide Riboside (also known as niagen) is another form of niacin (also known as vitamin B3). Nicotinamide Riboside is a precursor to NAD+. It gets converted into NAD+ within the body.
As mentioned earlier, declining NAD+ levels are a huge issue for the human body as it ages. An increasing number of Nicotinamide Riboside supplements are becoming popular in the market because they can help raise the NAD+ levels in the body.
Food Sources of Nicotinamide Riboside
Picture by Katerina Holmes at Pexels
Before moving forward with the benefits, it is important to look at the natural sources of Nicotinamide Riboside first. Following are a few food sources which contain the substance in trace amounts:
- Cow milk
However, the amount of Nicotinamide riboside found in these sources is very less and you would have to consume a lot of these products to get the desired amount. It is better to take it in the pure supplements form.
Benefits of Nicotinamide Riboside
The fact is that the research related to nicotinamide riboside is still at its earlier stages. There has been a range of animal studies aimed at discovering the benefits of the substance. Many of those studies have shown exciting and promising results in increasing the NAD+ levels in the body.
However, since these studies were primarily based on animals, the true benefits to the human body have not yet been established. It is pertinent to note that supplementation of Nicotinamide Riboside has been proven safe and is expected to produce promising anti-aging results as well.
Some of the benefits of Nicotinamide Riboside have been explored as follows.
Easy Conversion to NAD+
Since the primary reason people take Nictonamide Riboside supplements is to increase NAD+ levels, it stands to reason that this benefit would be foremost.
Nicotinamide Riboside helps replenish the falling NAD+ levels with age. Since it serves as the building block of NAD+, its supplements can be effective in increasing the amount of NAD+ available to the body.
Research studies have shown that Nicotinamide Riboside is highly bioavailable for both humans and animals. With daily supplementation of the substance, the increase in NAD+ in blood stood at around 2.7 times the previous amounts.
Activation of Enzymes
Another major benefit of Nicotinamide Riboside is that through its supplementation, a range of enzymes gets activated as a result. These enzymes are largely associated with disease control and the promotion of healthy aging.
One such group of enzymes is called sirtuins. These are important enzymes that are fundamental in increasing the healthspan and lifespan of animals. Research studies have shown that sirtuins improve immunity and metabolism, reduce inflammation, increase resistance to stress, and repair DNA.
Protection of Brain Cells
One of the biggest caveats of aging involves the receding brain function that promotes a range of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
The receding brain function can be attributed to increased inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain cells. Furthermore, impaired mitochondrial function also causes a decline in brain abilities.
Many research studies have shown that Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases are linked to both decreased mitochondrial function and increased oxidative stress. Thus, by reducing aging oxidative stress and improving mitochondrial function, we can fight better against these two diseases.
A study by Bing Gong and their team gave Nicotinamide Riboside to mice with Alzheimer’s disease for a total of 3 months. At the end of the study, the performance of Alzheimer’s mice was much better than before and also against those not given the treatment. They performed memory-based tasks significantly better than the other Alzheimer’s mice.
Stem cells that were taken from Parkinson’s disease patients also saw a major increase in NAD+ levels due to Nicotinamide Riboside.
In order to establish a clearer link between Nicotinamide Riboside and neurodegenerative diseases, it is important to conduct more human studies. The results of the studies already done are promising.
Picture by Robina Weermeijer at Unsplash
One of the major causes of death worldwide is the string of issues related to heart diseases.
Often, the aorta, and other blood vessels, become stiffer, thicker, and less flexible. As a result, the heart has to work significantly harder to pump blood through these vessels.
Such age-related changes to arteries can be reversed by increasing the level of NAD+ available to the body. A study by Natalie E de Picciotto and her team discovered that increasing NAD+ levels through NAD+ precursor supplements can significantly reverse the age-related damage to the vascular function of the body.
In human trials, another study by Christopher Martens and his team found that Nicotinamide Riboside supplements helped reduce the risk of high blood pressure in patients by lowering systolic blood pressure. It also reduced the thickness of the aorta. This happened due to the increase in NAD+ levels in the body.
Other than the benefits discussed above, Nicotinamide Riboside also provides a range of other potential benefits. Some of those benefits are discussed below:
- Nicotinamide Riboside may facilitate healthier muscle aging. Increased NAD+ in the body improves muscle endurance, strength, and function.
- It may also alleviate jet lag. Nicotinamide Riboside can help improve NAD+ levels that might improve the regulation of circadian rhythm disorders such as jet lag.
- It may also lower the risk of cancer by decreasing oxidative stress and providing protection against DNA damage, both of which can lead to cancer.
- It may also help reduce weight. It may help in weight loss because it helped in speeding up the metabolism of mice. It could have the same impact on humans as well.
Thus, there are a lot of potential benefits of Nicotinamide Riboside.
Frequently Asked Questions
Following are a few most frequently asked questions about Nicotinamide Riboside.
1. Is it safe to consume Nicotinamide Riboside?
Nicotinamide Riboside is perfectly safe to consume, as confirmed by many human studies.
2. How much Nicotinamide Riboside should I take?
The amount of Nicotinamide Riboside you should be taking depends largely upon your age and why you are taking the substance. If you are taking it to combat the impact of old age, you might need to take higher doses for it to be effective. If you are taking it at a young age to ensure that your body does not develop ailments as it grows old, lower doses might do the trick.
According to two studies, Nicotinamide Riboside is perfectly safe when taken up to 2 grams per day. The study by Sophia E Airhart and her team gave 1000 mg of Nicotinamide Riboside to the participants for nine days and did not notice any adverse side effects.
Similarly, the study by Ole L Dollerup and his team gave 2000 mg of Nicotinamide Riboside per day to participants for 12 weeks with little to no side effects reported.
3. What side effects can I expect?
You can expect indigestion, stomach discomfort, diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, and nausea, at most. These side effects can be managed easily by altering the dosage being taken by everyone.