Some experts argue that calorie restriction (including intermittent fasting) is an effective method for helping to slow down the body’s aging process, increase longevity and reduce the risk for a variety of diseases. The same for eliminating white sugar and processed foods from your diet. But if slashing your daily calorie intake by up to a third and foregoing chocolates sounds like the end of the world—new research conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder reveals there may be a much easier solution.
In 2004 Dr Charles Brenner published a paper showing that the enzyme Nrk1 can catalyze Nicotinamide Riboside directly to Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (100), which means that any NR that makes it’s way into the bloodstream can theoretically bypass the NAMPT bottleneck. Although NR is unstable by itself, Dartmouth University has patented production methods that combine it with Chloride which makes it stable outside the body. The supplement, Niagen has been available commercially since 2014 under the brand name “Niagen”.
Another study, published in the journal Nature Communications, included 24 “lean and healthy” men and women ages 55 to 79, and compared test results of subjects who took a placebo versus those who took a daily dose of 1,000 mg of nicotinamide riboside chloride (commonly known as Niagen). Findings showed that when people took the daily supplement, it mimicked the chemical reaction of caloric restriction on the body, and as a result, it has the possibility to encourage the same long-term anti-aging effect and corresponding health benefits.
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The research also showed the supplements improved blood pressure and arterial health, particularly in those with mild hypertension, and none of the participants reported any serious side effects. However, the study’s authors—Seals and lead author Chris Martens, former postdoctoral fellow at University of Colorado Boulder—are quick to acknowledge the study is small, calling it “pilot in nature.”
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What is NAD+?
As we age, our levels of the Co-enzyme Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide NAD+ drop significantly in multiple organs in mice and humans (5, 8, 10). NAD+ is a key Co-enzyme used by our mitochondria for energy production in all our cells. Higher NAD+ levels are needed for our cells to function at their best. In fact, NAD+ decrease is described as a trigger in age-associated decline(23), and perhaps even the key factor in why we age (5). Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) and Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN) are precursors used by the body to create more NAD+. Oral supplementation with NR and NMN can increase NAD+ levels.
We certainly do not have a fountain of youth in nicotinamide riboside chloride, although its role as a calorie-restriction mimetic may be helpful in patients with chronic diseases, according to doctors we spoke to.
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So although these supplements aren’t designed for everyone—make sure to speak to your doctor before taking them—this study is opening the door for more thorough research to come, which could have big impacts on the future of “anti-aging.”
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