What is NAD+?

Scientific interest in NAD+ has grown significantly due to the discovery of its crucial role in the ageing process.

Why does NAD+ decline with age?

When your body is young it naturally makes and retains high levels of NAD+. But as you age the NAD+ in your body drops significantly. There are two main reasons why NAD+ declines with age.

The first is that cells cannot absorb NAD+ directly from nutrients in our food but have to manufacture it for themselves. The problem here is that old cells are not as good as young cells at manufacturing the NAD+ they need. This is because the main enzyme (called NAMPT) that generates most of our NAD+, in a biological process known as the 'NAD+ salvage pathway', actually declines with age.

Secondly, NAD+ is used up much faster in old cells because they require more NAD+ to activate cellular repair pathways to fix the damage that has accumulated throughout our lives. For example, increased DNA damage in older cells leads to DNA repair. These enzymes require NAD+ to do their vital work. Older people also suffer from increased inflammation, which leads to higher levels of the CD38 protein that also uses great quantities of NAD+.

This imbalance between NAD+ recycling efficiency and rising NAD+ demand explains why our levels of NAD+ decline by around 50% every 20 years. As we age our basic cellular functions have to fight over a dwindling supply of NAD+ that continues to shrink as the years pass.

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