Aging will never be the same.
The results of a recent clinical trial suggest we may be able to slow the aging process. Researchers have successfully tested a unique form of vitamin B3 called Niagen that works at the cellular level and directly activates “anti-aging” genes. It uses a unique form of B3 called NR, short for nicotinamide riboside.
NR looks to change how humans age. It also offers big hope for conditions like chronic fatigue, muscle pain and mental health. Plus, it comes without the common “flushing” side effects of B3 supplementation.
The reason NR offers such promise to slow aging has to do with what vitamin B3 does. B3, also called niacin, supplies the building blocks for NAD+, a small molecule responsible for energy creation and aging.
What does NAD+ do?
Every thought, action and breath requires NAD+. This molecule acts as a coenzyme for the process that produces ATP. Without ATP, chemical reactions that allow muscles to move, metabolism to run and brain cells to “fire” stop.
NAD+ itself simply carries an electron. It may seem small, but the electron carried by every NAD+ molecule is essential. The exchange of the electron powers the conversion of food into energy, runs the immune system, regulates hormone levels and in fact drives every process in the body. As only the NAD+ molecule does this, it is one of the most important in the body.
When NAD+ levels fall, less ATP gets produced. This starts a downward spiral as ATP production dictates the number of mitochondria you have. The less energy you produce, the less mitochondria you need.
Fewer mitochondria mean less energy and reduced overall cell function. It looks something like this:
Less NAD+ > less ATP > less cellular energy > fewer mitochondria > less ATP > the cycle continues
Without enough energy, cells can’t keep up. They can’t create enough energy to convert food into energy, forcing the body to find places to store the excess. The immune system lacks energy to respond to threats from toxins, free radicals and even stress. Hormones get out of balance, brain fog sets in and weakness and fatigue become a chronic feeling.
Years ago researchers observed that the body produces less NAD+ as it ages. This explains why young people recover so quickly and why older people seem only to get older. Young people have plenty of mitochondria and NAD+ to keep those mitochondria pumping out energy.
It turns out NAD+ has a second role in the aging process that makes its absence even worse. NAD+ turns on two genes in the human body, the SIRT1 and the SIRT3. These two genes are often referred to as “anti-aging” genes.
SIRT1 protects the cell from stress. SIRT3 resides in the mitochondria and protects it from stress. When active, the cell thrives, even in times of stress. When inactive, the cell dies.
Now, there are other ways the SIRT genes can be activated. Caloric restriction, or extreme fasting, activates these SIRTs. The popular red wine compound resveratrol also indirectly gets the SIRT genes working. Of course, with enough NAD+, neither of these methods is needed.
The impact of NAD+ levels on health cannot be overstated. In addition to its role in ATP production and SIRT activation, it also plays a part in more than 400 enzymatic processes. NAD+ does a lot, but really, you’d never know. All you would really know is if you start to feel tired, chronically sick, weak or achy.
Consequences of NAD+ deficiency
NAD+ really sits at the center of life. Even the slightest lack of it has far reaching consequences. Muscle cells deficient in this vital coenzyme lack strength. Brain cells don’t “fire” right, creating fogginess. The cells of organs can’t perform the tasks they’re supposed to. A lack anywhere forces the body to prioritize, causing other areas to fall into disrepair.
Muscle weakness and brain fog represent only a couple of the symptoms a person might experience. Chronic fatigue, low energy and sore, achy joints are a few other symptoms a consistent deficiency might create. But the symptoms can get much worse.
A serious deficiency decreases the body’s ability to convert food into energy. This forces extra work on organs like the liver. When the body cannot burn glucose, the body – more specifically, the liver – must store it. In this way a lack of NAD+ contributes to excess body weight, fatty muscles and a fatty liver.
Inefficient glucose handling also increases the amount of “sugar” in the blood. This leads to high blood sugar and vascular inflammation, a precursor of heart disease. In this way NAD+ deficiency can be understood as a serious systemic problem.
Causes of NAD+ Deficiency
Inadequate amounts of dietary vitamin B3 could create deficiency, but it is rare in developed countries. According the University of Maryland, alcoholism is the main cause . Diets that include fish, meats (especially organ meats), dairy and eggs as well as fortified breads and cereals provide vitamin B3 and the amino acid tryptophan that converts into niacin, the precursor for NAD+.
Aging itself is often considered one of the most common causes. Researchers have observed the body produces less NAD+ as it ages. The reasons for this can be attributed to a wide range of factors. Free radicals, heavy metals, excess sugar and anything else that interferes with cellular function and energy production can impact the amount of NAD+.
Benefits of NAD+ Supplementation
Supplementing with NAD+ precursors like vitamin B3 and tryptophan supply the body with raw materials to make this essential molecule. This supports energy production or the conversion of glucose from food into ATP. More simply, it allows every cell to work more efficiently. Plus, NAD+ activates sirtuins, the anti-aging genes.
Research reports NAD+ supplementation produces several powerful results.
- Slows cellular aging
- Improves endurance
- Increases cognitive function
For years, NAD+ supplementation had a problem. The body metabolized it too fast so it never had the desired effect. Niagen has changed this so individuals can enjoy the benefits listed above and the wider benefits of a body that acts younger.
The Power Behind Niagen
The secret to Niagen comes from the power of NR, or nicotinamide riboside. Researchers only recently discovered its role as an NAD+ precursor. They also discovered that like NAD+, NR acts to slow aging by activating sirtuins.
Since its discovery, lab studies have shown great promise for NR. A just published trial in Nature Communications tested NR as provided by Niagen in human subjects. The results matched what previous research on Niagen has suggested – the supplement delivers a highly bioavailable form of NR that creates measurable increases in NAD+.
Researchers in the study described NR as the mitochondrially-favored NAD+ precursor. It simply works better than all other NAD+ building blocks like vitamin B3 and tryptophan.
The first phase of the trial involved a 52 year-old man who took 1,000mg of NR daily for seven days. Study researchers found a single dose led to a 2.7x increase of NAD+. They also found NR increased a related molecule called NAAD, or nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide, by 45x!
NAAD regulates calcium (Ca2+) in cells. The body uses calcium ions to “turn-on” and “turn-off” cell activity. If calcium levels become unbalanced, the cell goes haywire. Cells in this condition stop following normal lifecycles and may die faster. This finding indicates NR supports cellular health through both energy production (NAD+) and by maintaining proper cell lifecycles with NAAD support for Ca2+.
The second phase of the trial involved the evaluation of NR on stem cells in aging mice. The results demonstrated NR helped to maintain the regenerative potential of the stem cells to promote longevity.
Finally, the third phase of the trial tested Niagen in twelve healthy men and women. The study participants took either 100mg, 300mg, or 1,000mg in a blind test so neither they nor the researchers knew their dosage. As in the previous phase of the trial, NAD+ and NAAD increased dramatically. In addition to the increases, the study noted that NAD+ levels remained high when measured at 24 hours post supplementation.
Of special note, these doses reflect 2.8x, 8.4x and 28x the RDA of niacin, vitamin B3. Now, a common problem with high potency vitamin B3 supplements has been a side effect of uncomfortable flushing. Previous research cited in the Niagen study noted a 500mg niacin supplement caused all of the subjects of that earlier study to flush.
However, only two subjects who took the Niagen with NR experienced a mild flushing at 300mg. Interestingly, those same subjects did not flush at 100mg or 1,000mg doses. All other subjects experienced no side effects. Based on these results, the study authors report NR in Niagen offers no serious adverse effects even at supplementation 28x the RDA.
The study authors note this trial supports the powerful and safe use of NR to support overall health and slow aging. The authors do acknowledge its scale certainly warrants further research with both larger test populations and for specific conditions.
Who Is Likely to See the Greatest Benefits of Niagen:
The NAD+ boost linked to Niagen supplementation provides health support to all adults. Elderly patients and individuals who suffer from conditions associated with mitochondrial dysfunction like chronic fatigue and muscle weakness may enjoy the greatest benefits as described above.
How to Use Niagen:
Take two (2) capsules daily. Niagen should be taken when you first wake up or before your first meal, although it can be taken on an empty stomach. It does not need to be taken and followed with food.
Clinical trials with human subjects found no adverse side effects as a result of taking N(R).
Niagen should be taken by healthy adults ages 18 and older. It should not be taken or given to children. Pregnant or breast-feeding women should consult with their obstetrician before taking any supplement. It is always recommended to speak with a physician or healthcare provider prior to starting any new diet, exercise or supplement.
New research on NAD+ precursor NR suggests aging and the physical deterioration that goes with it may not be inevitable. NR supplementation in the form of Niagen delivers a direct, significant and measurable increase in NAD+. It also acts like NAD+ in the way it directly activates anti-aging genes known as sirtuins. Niagen thus stimulates cellular energy production in a way that translates into slower aging, more energy and overall better health.
* Copywriter and researcher Peter Rufa writes for a wide range of clients but specializes in health. He has written for doctors, supplement providers, healthcare, medical, and fitness organizations and businesses throughout the United States.
ii Belenky P1, Racette FG, Bogan KL, McClure JM, Smith JS, Brenner C. Nicotinamide riboside promotes Sir2 silencing and extends lifespan via Nrk and Urh1/Pnp1/Meu1 pathways to NAD+. Cell. 2007 May 4;129(3):473-84. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17482543
iii Samuel A.J. Trammell1, Mark S. Schmidt1, Benjamin J. Weidemann1, Philip Redpath2, Frank Jaksch3, Ryan W. Dellinger3, Zhonggang Li4, E Dale Abel1,4, Marie E. Migaud1,2 & Charles Brenner1,4. Nicotinamide riboside is uniquely and orally bioavailable in mice and humans. Nature Communications. Published 10 Oct 2016, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12948.