The hottest healthy aging story these days is the one about NAD.
Healthy aging? What happened to anti-aging? To be clear, most of us who work in this field don’t like to use the term anti-aging anymore. It’s silly and passé. We can’t stop the clock, which is what “anti” aging implies. We prefer the term age management, which much more accurately captures the idea of aging smartly, gracefully and happily. AKA healthy aging.
Getting older no longer has to look like it did in your parent’s day. Age management is about dying young at an old age. It’s about “squaring the curve” of life so that, rather than experience a slow, painful, decline into senescence (deterioration with age) starting around age 50, we live at the top of our game (more or less) until just about the end when we die a quick, peaceful death with minimal complications and challenges, preferably sometime after age 90.
Now that we’ve sorted out the terminology, let’s talk about what we really care about: extending our “healthspan.” That’s the number of years we spend in good health, fully engaged in life; performing with vigor, enthusiasm and passion; with minimal complications.
Which is why NAD is so exciting.
Aging starts at the cellular level, way beneath our radar. We may notice skin wrinkling, lack of energy, low libido, tired eyes, but long before that stuff starts to happen, our poor cells have gotten tired and run down. Cells, after all, have an awful lot of responsibilities. For one thing, they must produce something called ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the molecular unit of energy your body uses to do absolutely everything in life that you do from blinking your eyes to dancing the Macarena. Growing hair and nails? It requires ATP. Talking? Ditto. Running a marathon, exercising, thinking, meditating or mamboing, everything runs on ATP. And ATP generation depends on the health of the cell.
Plus, there’s detoxification. While plenty of companies offer expensive and trendy “detoxing” juices, the truth is that you’re detoxing all the time, and detoxification starts in the cells. As does fat burning. And the list goes on.
So, what does this have to do with this thing called NAD, anyway? What is NAD? Why do we need it, how do we get it and why does it even matter?
I’m glad you asked.
NAD-which stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide- is what’s known as a “coenzyme.” Coenzymes make stuff happen in the cell. You can think of them as spark plugs. You could have the most incredible, expensive, custom-made McLaren Mercedes, but guess what? If you don’t have spark plugs, that fabulous expensive transmission won’t turn over. Nothing will work. We’ve all seen the movies-if you want to disable someone’s car, you don’t put it up on blocks and remove the engine-you just pocket the spark plugs. Nobody’s going anywhere without those tiny, inexpensive-but absolutely essential-parts.
So, NAD is the coenzyme-the spark plug-that’s needed for absolutely every one of the cellular operations I just mentioned, the ones that-when they slow down or go offline-make you feel and look old and tired.
But guess what happens as we grow older?
Our NAD stores plummet.
When the supply of NAD in the cell is low, the cell goes on a “budget,” much like a company that’s had its cash flow cut in half. Non-essential operations slow to a halt. The company-or in this case the cell-tightens its metaphorical belt. Important functions get sidelined. The cell begins its inevitable decline. We all know the visible signs of that decline: They are the ones that send half the population of Beverly Hills to the plastic surgeon’s office.
Scientists have contemplated the problem of disappearing NAD stores for a long time. Figuring out how to replace or increase our NAD stores has been one of the most vexing problems in the field of age management. The obvious answer-supplementing with NAD-doesn’t work. Instead, we need an efficient biohack that encourages our cells into making more of the stuff.
And that biohack is finally here. It’s a special form of vitamin B3, discovered by biochemist Charles Brenner, with the unwieldy name of nicotinamide riboside, and sold under the proprietary name TruNiagen. TruNiagen is creating a storm in the age management world because it has been demonstrated to significantly increase our NAD stores. And if you think that isn’t a really big deal, read on.
Remember resveratrol? It’s a supplement that comes from the skins of dark grapes. Resveratrol has long been touted as an anti-aging supplement precisely because it has been shown to “turn on” longevity genes known as the SIRT (Sirtuin) genes. That’s great, but you know what? Resveratrol can’t actually contact those genes and turn them on unless there’s NAD. Even the best resveratrol needs the NAD spark plug or it can’t work its magic.
This is why I’m personally doing everything I can to keep my NAD levels as high as they can be for as long as possible. That means a daily dose of TruNiagen. Together with nutrients such as curcumin, vitamin D, omega-3s and magnesium, it forms a “stack” that goes a long way towards keeping your cells happy and functioning, and “squaring the curve” of aging.