Posted on Oct 08, 2018, 6 p.m.
Anti-aging products and procedures have become a $250 billion dollar industry that will continue to grow as as everyone is looking for science backed ways to look younger and boost longevity.
Most of the industry hides aging from the outside and doesn’t actually counter the aging process on cellular levels. However more and more scientists are being drawn to the industry and continued research has provided many breakthroughs that are believed to be getting closer to providing longevity in a capsule. One of these comes in the form of nicotinamide riboside/NR which is being formulated into increasingly popular supplements claiming to boost energy, longevity, prevent disease, and slow aging processes.
Nicotinamide riboside is a fairly recently discovered form of vitamin B3 found in trace amount of milk that the body converts into nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide/NAD+, which is a coenzyme in all living cells that plays key roles in energy metabolism and maintaining proper cell function. As far as anti-aging goes NAD+ is kind of a big deal, levels decline significantly with aging which appears to help drive aging processes. Many studies on NAD+ and NR are on animal models meaning firm conclusions can’t be made for humans yet, but preliminary findings are promising.
Declining levels of NAD+ appear to help drive aging processes, particularly deterioration of mitochondria which are the power plants in cells. Damaged or underperforming mitochondria are believed to play roles in many age related human disease. Increasing amounts of NAD+ via supplementing with precursor such as NR it may be possible to minimize mitochondrial deterioration and help prevent many diseases of aging. NAD+ appear to exert health promoting properties via helping sirtuin proteins such as SIRT1 that regulate biological pathways, induce formation of new mitochondria, and extend lifespan.
NR supplements added to drinking water of model mice mimicking human Alzheimer’s disease for 3 months were observed to have less DNA damage, higher neuroplasticity, increased production of new neurons, lower levels of neuronal damage, better performance in memory tests, and in the hippocampus NR seemed to clear damaged DNA and/or prevent it from further spreading. Findings that suggest NR may boost memory and help to combat AD.
Studies have shown that replenishing levels of NAD+ with NR supplements lengthened lifespans in mice models via improving mitochondrial function and increasing activation of SIRT1. NAD+ also increases activation of SIRT6 which helps to maintain length of telomeres which promotes longevity.
Muscle function and strength decline with age, in animal studies supplementing with NR appeared to restore exercise capacity to normal healthy levels, which may hold promise for older populations who experience muscle weakness or atrophy. Supplementing with NAD+ precursors led to NAD repair and improved health of muscle tissue within one week so significant the difference could not been seen between 2 year old mouse tissue and 4 month old mouse tissue; suggest it may improve muscle quality and strength.
Supplementation of NR may help boost metabolism and prevention of weight gain, even in high fat diets. One study has shown animal models fed high fat diets receiving NR gained 60% less weight than those without NR on the same diet, due to increased activation of sirtuins SIRT1 and SIRT3 leading to improved oxidative metabolism; mice receiving NR were observed not to show any signs of diabetes, and had improved energy levels. Findings suggesting that NR may help to counter the effects of high fat diets.
NR supplements may increase levels of NAD+ and promote anti-aging benefits, such supplements are becoming increasingly popular. A human clinical trial suggests that subjects receiving regular doses for 6 weeks increased NAD+ levels by 40%, and that it was well tolerated at a dose of 500 mg twice daily. Subjects did experience drops in blood pressure which was deemed to be statistically not significant. Subjects only took the supplement for 6 weeks, meaning that no conclusive health benefits can be established. Additional studies are required over a longer period of time to determine specific health benefits and risks of NR supplements such as Tru Niagen and Basis.
Eva Selhub, MD and lecturer at Harvard Medical School states there is great promise to the anti-aging properties and regulating benefits, but much more work must be done in human studies to show they can slow down aging processes and/or result in other health benefits. NR containing supplements such as those in clinical trials are likely safe to try, and don’t appear to be any health risk associated with them, but it is best to check with a healthcare provider first to ensure it is safe for you.
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