It's not what you'd expect.
In 1906, two scientists discovered a molecule that would lead biochemical and metabolic research for the next century. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide or NAD (pronounced en-aye-dee), is an essential coenzyme found in every living cell. It fuels the mitochondria, which in turn supports cellular functions in almost every tissue in the body.
NAD is so essential to our cellular health that without it, our cells could not function. Thankfully, our cells are never fully without NAD. But they are fighting over it. Because like any other resource, the more NAD we use, the less of it we have.
Today’s scientists know NAD is essential to human brain, blood, and muscle health. We use NAD every time we eat, drink, sleep, work, or think. Our cells need NAD to help convert sugar into energy, produce collagen and elastin in the skin, and regulate circadian rhythm. NAD also activates sirtuins (the "longevity proteins"), which help support healthy DNA and overall cellular health.
Researchers have also already shown that NAD is essential to the health of every cell in the body, and there is even evidence that it supports life span in mice. Preclinical studies also show a correlation between lower NAD levels and some of the worst age-related health conditions. All of this science warrants further studies surrounding the exciting possibilities around what increased NAD levels can do for humans as well.
A lot of physiological stressors can cause our NAD levels to decline. That’s because NAD is rapidly consumed anytime our cells become stressed. Things such as lack of exercise, overeating, heavy alcohol consumption, and other daily environmental exposures can all deplete our body’s natural NAD resources.
This depletion leaves the functions that require NAD to fight over an ever-diminishing supply of it. Our cells need that energy to support healthy DNA, and maintain their own health while under physiological stress.
But even if we take very good care of ourselves, NAD will decline with age. Research over the last century shows lower NAD levels are linked to metabolic diseases including arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and heart disease. Scientists are now expanding NAD precursor research to help them uncover the full potential of this molecule.
If over a century's worth of research has taught us anything, it's that NAD matters for our cellular health. It's not a quick fix or trendy diet. It’s here to stay. And we’ve only just begun to uncover the possibilities of what maintaining healthy NAD levels can do.