With increasing life expectancy, the demand for anti-aging products has grown massively. Anti-aging has rapidly become a billion dollar industry, and thus there are numerous products that claim to miraculously remove all signs of aging. Among these, the most promising anti-aging tool seems to be nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which plays the most important role in energy production.
What is NAD+?
NAD+ is an essential molecule that takes part in many metabolic processes and also takes an important role in DNA repair. With age, NAD+ levels begin to slowly decline. The loss of NAD+ has been attributed as one of the underlying mechanisms of aging. Studies have shown that enhancing NAD+ levels can significantly alter the aging process and increase life span in yeasts, mice, and worms.
Increasing NAD+ levels in older mice seem to revive mitochondrial functionality to a younger age. Apart from mitochondrial function rejuvenation, the studies also showed an improvement in cardiovascular function, muscle growth, and glucose metabolism.
Riding on these research findings, many companies have arisen that profit by selling dietary supplement with nicotinamide riboside (NR) or nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), which are NAD+ precursors. Big company names such as ChromaDex and Elysium Health are currently the forerunners in the NAD+ supplement business. These big name companies are even backed by renowned researchers from prestigious universities such as Harvard, Stanford and Columbia University.
However, the researcher has also attracted a lot of criticism because these supplements are not FDA approved as dietary supplements are not under strict regulation by the US government. Clinical research findings have published results revealing a significant increase in blood NAD+ levels after the use of NR- containing supplements for a period of 6 to 8 weeks with minimal side effects among the participants. Researchers are further attempting to prove the beneficial effect of increased NAD+ levels on health.
Clinical trials have so far only been conducted in mice and not in humans. “Not everything that works in mice works in humans, which is why it’s critical to do the rigorous human trials,” stated Leonard Guarente, a co-founder of Elysium and its chief scientist.
Elysium has been investing in many types of research to study the benefits of NR- supplements in people with liver and kidney diseases. In early 2019, Elysium announced revolutionary results of a study, which revealed that the NR-supplements could be effective in slowing down amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Apart from Elysium, ChromaDex has also been using its NR supplements for clinical trials. More recently ChromaDex sponsored a study that evaluated the effects of NR-supplement on sleep, mood and cognitive function in individuals above age 55.
NAD+ Supplements And Cancer
Cancer researchers have recently diverted their attention to NAD+ as a potential treatment methodology for cancer. Studies have results suggesting the dependency of many cancer cells on NAD+ for their growth. Thus cutting off the supply of NAD+ could be a potentially effective method to cure cancer by depriving cancer cells of its energy source. Such data attained from multiple studies all point towards the benefits of NAD+ supplements, whether the benefits be in cancer treatment, anti-aging or neurodegenerative diseases.
“It might still slow down the aging part, but it might fuel the cancer part,” said Versha Banerji, a clinician-scientist at the University of Manitoba. “We just need to figure out more about the biology of both of those processes, to figure out how we can make people age well and also not get cancer.”