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The slow creep of aging affects everyone, and before you know it, you’re over the hill and losing steam. But what exactly causes us to age? Scientists believe it is ultimately because of accumulated metabolic damage that occurs at the cellular level.
As we age, certain biological compounds decrease, including one called NAD+. This coenzyme is found in all living cells and plays a vital role in energy metabolism, DNA repair and healthy cell function — particularly that of the mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells that convert food to energy. As NAD+ declines, our mitochondria are adversely affected and damaged, resulting in less energy output and leading the corporeal aging process. Low NAD+ also alters the activity of enzymes called sirtuins, a class of proteins believed to play a role in healthy aging by turning certain genes on and off and by helping protect the body from the onset of age-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
The Fountain of Youth?
The good news is that you can increase and replenish NAD+ by supplementing with a precursor called nicotinamide riboside (NR). NR (commercially known as Niagen) is a newly discovered version of vitamin B3 found in trace amounts in milk. According to a study published in Nature Communications, NR converts to NAD+ when ingested and goes to work improving mitochondrial function, creating new mitochondria and increasing energy production at the cellular level. NR also reactivates the sirtuin proteins, some of which work to maintain the length of telomeres, the caps on the ends of DNA associated with longevity, ultimately reversing the aging process and extending your life span, according to research published in PLOS One.
Though best-known for its energy-boosting properties, NR is also being studied for these benefits, which are of particular note to athletic women:
- NR may improve muscle quality and strength. According to a study published in Science, NR supplementation in mice resulted in rapid DNA repair and an improvement in the health of muscle tissue within a week.
- NR might fight fat. A study published in Cell Metabolism found that NR helped boost metabolism and prevent weight gain, even when test mice were fed a diet high in fat.
- NR may help with cognition. According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, NR-treated mice had less DNA damage, higher neuroplasticity, increased neuron production and less neural damage than the control group, and they performed better on given memory tests.
There are no adverse side effects of NR and no contraindications, so if it sounds enticing, try it for yourself. You’ve got nothing to lose and energy — and longevity — to gain!
A New Kind of Energy
ChromaDex, the innovators of NR, maintains a scientific advisory board that includes Nobel Prize–winning researchers and is continually conducting studies and are uncovering more benefits of NR every day. To date, most studies have been done on animals, but a recent six-week human clinical trial found that participants taking Tru Niagen — a name-brand version of NR with three safety certifications from the Food and Drug Administration — experienced on average a 40 percent increase in NAD+ levels.