Understanding NAD+

Updated: Jun 27, 2018

What is NAD+?

Skeletal structure of the oxidised form of NAD

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a derivative of Vitamin B3. NAD+ is found in every cell of the human body and plays a vital role in regulating the rate at which cells age. Pictured right is the skeletal structure of the oxidized form of NAD (source: User:NEUROtiker/gallery/archive2)

How does NAD+ work?

The plus sign in NAD+ indicates the reduced form of the compound which means NAD+ can accept hydrogen, resulting in the reduction reaction in dehydrogenase enzyme systems, i.e. it plays a vital role in reducing NAD to NAD+.

Most of these reactions take place in the mitochondria to produce energy. By keeping glutathione, the body’s major antioxidant, in a reduced form, oxygen radicals can be neutralised and removed from the body’s tissues.

Additionally, NAD+ is involved in the production of dopamine by aiding in the transformation of the amino acid tyrosine. Dopamine plays an important role with regard to mood, energy levels, memory and concentration.

Why do we need NAD+?

The benefits of having sufficient levels of NAD+ include: anti-aging through improved inter-cellular communication, clarity of mind and improved focus and concentration, relief from food cravings (to aid with overeating and weight-loss) and the minimising of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

NAD+ levels: the effects of lifestyle and aging

NAD+ levels are negatively impacted by an unhealthy, modern lifestyle. The decline in NAD+ levels in cells can be associated with over-consumption of fatty foods and alcohol, the sedentary lifestyle, DNA damage, aging and illness.

When alcohol is broken down in the body, for example, it is by means of the reduction reaction of the dehydrogenase system. When alcohol is consumed on a regular basis the body’s NAD+ levels are lowered, thus affecting other reactions where NAD+ is required.

As we age, the effectiveness of communication networks that regulate energy production in our cells declines. The deterioration in functionality of the mitochondria results in the emergence of

age-related conditions such as a degeneration in cognitive ability and maintenance of the carbohydrate metabolism, i.e. the increased difficulty of the body to regulate blood sugar levels.

The effective application of endogenous compounds such as NAD+ aids in the repair of functionality that was damaged by the decrease of NAD+ through aging.


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Statements made have not been evaluated by the USA Food and Drug Administration or South African Health Products Regulatory Authority and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. These results are not typical. Individual results may vary.


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