How NAD+ Works to Bio-hacking Energy
Low energy, fatigue, feeling meh, constant drowsiness, a lack of motivation, burn out, etc. is one of the top complaints of modern-day city dwellers. This leads many of us to wonder, “How much more could I achieve if I was able to tap into my full energy potential?” Scientists around the world are looking into a possible answer, and it’s in the form of one tiny molecule with huge potential – NAD+.
What is NAD+?
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is an essential cofactor in all living cells. In other words, it is a small molecule needed for larger chemical reactions to occur. Many of these key reactions are related to energy production within the mitochondria of our cells.
How is it used for energy?
NAD+ comes in two forms: NAD+ and NADH, which are called the oxidized and reduced forms, respectively. These forms are constantly interchanging. For NAD+ to become NADH it gains a charged hydrogen molecule (H+) and 2 electrons. You can imagine NAD+ as an empty car driving around the body and NADH as a full car looking to drop off its passengers so they can join other teams and get to work. The shuttling of these electron passengers is critical for energy metabolism, or the conversion of our food into energy our cells can utilize.
Thinking back to high-school biology, the food you eat goes through three phases to become energy: glycolysis, the Krebs Cycle, and the electron transport chain. During glycolysis and the Krebs Cycle, NAD+ is converted into NADH molecules. These NADH molecules then go on to the electron transport chain (in the mitochondria) to give up their electrons to create a large amount of energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) — the energy currency of the cell.
Without NAD+/NADH shuttling electrons through this complex metabolic system, we simply wouldn’t be getting our ATP payoff for the food we eat.
How can I improve my NAD+ status?
NAD+ is made internally and is actually found in a large number of species including mammals, yeast, bacteria and even plants. However, as we age, our NAD+ levels drop substantially. Scientists estimate that NAD+ falls to half that of youthful levels at 40 years old and by 80, it is down to 1%-10%.
Alleviating this natural decline in NAD+ levels has huge potential for drastically slowing down, and even reversing, the signs of aging. Supporting NAD+ levels helps protect the mitochondria from damage and keeps mitochondrial function high. When you keep the mitochondria happy, you help ensure that your cells are receiving the energy it needs to function optimally, making you feel a whole lot better!
NAD+ can be taken orally, through high-quality supplementation schemes, intramuscularly or intravenously. Intravenous NAD+ allows it to bypass the stomach for greater effects on the body. Intravenous NAD+ is also able to be transported directly to the brain to help mental fatigue, brain fog, memory, motivation and cognition.
Numerous clinical trials have been published on NAD+ Therapy and it is typically very well-tolerated. Side effects are typically mild, such as flushing, and would be monitored by the medical professional administering the therapy.
What other benefits does NAD+ have on the body?
In addition to energy, maintaining healthy levels of NAD+ is also important for:
- Promoting longevity
- Reducing external signs of aging like wrinkles
- Protecting memory and cognition
- Supporting positive mood balance
- Fighting off cardiovascular disease
- Supporting chromosome stability (involved in cancer risk)
Contact us to learn more about how to support your NAD+ levels for improved energy.
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- Cantó C, Menzies KJ, Auwerx J. NAD(+) Metabolism and the Control of Energy Homeostasis: A Balancing Act between Mitochondria and the Nucleus. Cell Metab. 2015;22(1):31-53. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2015.05.023
- Chini CCS, Tarragó MG, Chini EN. NAD and the aging process: Role in life, death and everything in between. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2017;455:62-74. doi:10.1016/j.mce.2016.11.003
- Dietrich C, Charles B, Claire LK. “Safety and Metabolism of Long-term Administration of NIAGEN (Nicotinamide Riboside Chloride) in a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial of Healthy Overweight Adults.” Sci Rep. 2019 Jul 5;9(1):9772. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-46120-z.
- Verdin E. NAD⁺ in aging, metabolism, and neurodegeneration. Science. 2015;350(6265):1208-1213. doi:10.1126/science.aac4854
Rachel Erwin, Nutritionist & Content Writer
Rachel is a Nutritionist with a BSc in Biology and Global Health from the University of Toronto, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Nutrition from the University of Ulster. She has counselled and educated clients in Hong Kong, whose health goals ranged from weight loss to detox and hormone balancing. Her love of writing led her to complete ‘Writing in the Sciences’, offered by Stanford University, and since then she has contributed several evidence-based health articles to various publications.