What is NAD?
The Metabolic Mastermind Behind Healthy Aging
What happens as you get older – as you age? Why is it that even when you eat healthy foods, stay active, and are in otherwise good health, time still takes its toll?
There are many complex theories (and it’s a growing list) on the fundamental causes of aging in humans: unstable genes, ebbing mitochondria, and frazzled cell communication to name a few. But it’s likely the accumulation of all of these reasons and more. Why? Because the common denominator in every model is the cell: how it creates energy, how it repairs wear and tear, and how it lives and dies according to plan.
Like your technological gadgets that imperceptibly become slower and more glitchy, your operating system (the community of cells that make up your body) typically becomes a bit less responsive and cooperative over time as well. Your built-in mechanisms of self-mending and renewal take ongoing hits from the stressors of daily life. And eventually, youthful cells start looking a little more rough around the edges.
Understanding Cellular Energy
If aging starts with the cell, it’s worth a quick peek inside your cells to understand how they work and what they need to keep you alive and well. When you breathe, eat, and drink, you’re giving your cells fuel to do their jobs. Oxygen, water, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids – these are your cells’ dietary essentials. Your cells are mini energy factories, and their combined energy production allows you to think, move, feel, and do all that makes you, you!
Mitochondria are the Energizer bunnies of virtually all body cells. And ATP (adenosine triphosphate) keeps those bunnies going and going…in an endless cycle of giving and receiving power in the form of electrons. Did you know you run on electricity? Just like electricity powers modern life as we know it, electrons are the spark of natural life, too.
Electrons are a special commodity and not one that can be carried by just anyone! Only a select few biological molecules receive the honor. Chemically, electron exchanges are called reduction and oxidation, so the privileged givers and receivers are called “redox” molecules. The transfer of electrons in redox reactions is the dynamic electrical current of cellular energy. And beyond using electrons for their own energy production, redox reactions are the language that cells use to communicate and cooperate throughout the body.
What is NAD?
NAD supplements are attracting a lot of attention nowadays, especially from those seeking to support lasting energy, maintain their brain health, and enhance how they feel in their golden years.
So what is NAD? It stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (never a better time for an acronym!), and it’s naturally produced in your body from niacin. You’re probably familiar with niacin – Vitamin B3 -- it’s in your daily multivitamin! As an essential vitamin, niacin does something…important, right? Yes, so very important.
From its niacin precursor, NAD is created and then activated as a redox molecule through the attachment of electron-hungry elements like hydrogen (H) or phosphate (P). Without niacin, electrons couldn’t be transferred, your electronic energy current wouldn’t flow, and your cells couldn’t power your life.
As NAD+ (NAD lacking one electron) or NADPH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate, holding an extra electron), niacin is ready for electron hot-potato. Receiving electrons, NAD+ primarily serves in extracting energy; NADPH donates electrons in processes that create and transfer energy. Whether as NAD or NADP, charged or uncharged, this electron expert is constantly recycled to maintain your body’s metabolism.
NAD+ and NADPH each take a leading role in giving cells throughout your body the energy, hormones, and neurotransmitters they require to live, regenerate, replicate, and communicate. Which brings us back to aging.
NAD and Free Radicals
So what does NAD have to do with healthy aging? Nowadays, there’s little scientific dispute that stress is human kryptonite. Physical, mental, emotional, environmental – all forms of stress make your body have to work harder to do what it needs to do. And all of these external and internal stressors can lead to the production of free radicals: familiar foes to human health and longevity.
Free radicals are like redox rogues, disrupting healthy cell metabolism. And they can sometimes overwhelm your cells’ processes of self-repair by stealing electrons from cell membranes (aka “oxidation”) or planting them where they shouldn’t be. But don’t get too discouraged -- your body has built-in ways to fight free radicals!
Who’s our redox hero? That’s right: NAD. By fighting free radicals and empowering cells for optimal resilience, NAD and NADPH are an anti-aging antioxidant force. Instead of free radical robbers snatching electrons from your cells, NADH throws in its own electron to neutralize their charge.
As we age, and our bodies fight more and more free radicals, evidence suggests that NAD levels can take a steep dip. And the natural production of NAD can also start lagging with passing years. So with research backing NAD’s multiple life-boosting mechanisms, many health experts are suggesting that promoting the body’s natural NAD synthesis with NAD supplements could be a game-changer for aging optimally.
NAD and Brain Health
We can’t talk about healthy aging without mentioning the brain. Every part of your body is tightly intertwined, and feeling your best physically requires brain-body harmony, too. Your overall well-being starts with a clear, balanced, stable mind and mood.
The brain is the most energy-hungry organ in your body, burning through nutrients non-stop to direct and respond to the world around you. Vigorously working brain cells consume lots of energy, and by doing so they even generate their own free radicals. So redox reactions are the brain’s constant reality.
Adequate NAD, and its niacin precursors (like what’s often found in NAD supplements), help the brain use glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids to maintain healthy brain cell membranes and produce key neurotransmitters. NAD’s redox riches are also essential players in keeping your brain’s immune cells equipped and balanced. Overall, NAD is the fulcrum of equilibrium for sustaining brain health.
One of the precursors of niacin is tryptophan, an essential amino acid that’s the sole starter for making melatonin and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are major regulators of the mind-body rhythms that help regulate your sleep and your mood. But when your hard-working brain co-opts NAD for fighting free radicals, tryptophan is diverted to making NAD instead of melatonin and serotonin. This path of NAD depletion is another potential hallmark of aging linked to its familiar influence on your cognition, memory, and mood.
Should You Take a NAD Supplement?
This is just a small glimpse into NAD’s remarkable rewards, but for now, let’s sum up its healthy aging benefits:
- Fosters ideal energy metabolism
- Promotes ongoing cellular repair and renewal
- Provides antioxidant support against oxidizing free radicals
- Helps maintain balanced cognition and mood
With that life-enhancing resume, it’s clear that NAD is non-negotiable for not only healthy aging but today’s healthy living.
Does that mean you should add a NAD supplement? While science certainly doesn’t discourage the extra interest in NAD, upholding your NAD status is part of a bigger picture of holistic wellness. Not only can a well-balanced, whole-food diet provide ample NAD precursors, there are many natural ways to help equip the body with what it needs to create and maintain NAD.
How to Support Natural NAD Production
Niacin might be found in many foods like poultry, peanuts, and polenta, but its high demand and our individual metabolic needs mean that many of us can benefit from a high-quality multivitamin. Our Multi·Vita·Min, Vita·Min·Herb for Women, and Vita·Min·Herb for Men all contain 32 mg of niacin, or 200% of your Daily Value. And unlike most NAD supplements, this NAD precursor is naturally sourced through whole-food fermentation, ensuring it gets to those brain and body cells.
Speaking of cells, Cell Protector™ is NAD’s perfect antioxidant associate. Formulated with a full array of herbal detox supporters like milk thistle, turmeric, and cruciferous sprouts, this cellular bodyguard provides first-line support against free radicals. The balancing botanicals in Cell Protector can also help enhance the body’s production of its chief antioxidant, glutathione. By discouraging the impacts of oxidative stress, Cell Protector’s detox squad plays the perfect backup to NAD’s benefits for healthy aging.
Another NAD sidekick supplement with brain health at the heart is Radiant Mood™. Optimally formulated with six synergistic floral extracts shown to support healthy production of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that promote a happy mood, this brain-balancing formula helps sustain serotonin so NAD can focus on keeping your mind alert, focused, and resilient.
The spotlight on NAD is much deserved. But remember: your body is wise! Nurture the wisdom that comes with age through whole-body nourishment, and enrich your health span as you enhance your lifespan.