What are supplements and why are they useful? If you are like most people, you try hard to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and arrange your schedule so you can fit in at least a bit of exercise most days. The fact is that some people don’t get enough of the vitamins and minerals that their body needs.
Therefore, according to a 2015 consumer survey, 68% of Americans have consumed dietary supplements on a regular basis during the past 5 years and a full 78% believe supplements are a smart choice for living a healthy lifestyle.
This same study found that 98% of those taking supplements were consuming a vitamin, mineral, or a multivitamin supplement.
Dietary supplements aren’t just vitamins and minerals, however.
Dietary Supplements Definition
The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of a dietary supplement is “A product taken orally that contains one or more ingredients (such as vitamins or amino acids) that are intended to supplement one’s diet and are not considered food.”
This definition isn’t all-encompassing, however. There are other dietary supplements which do far more than add missing nutrients we should receive from food.
Naturally Occurring Compounds
Our bodies are amazing pieces of evolution, creating compounds which are necessary for easier function, including:
- Collagen, which is often described as the “glue” in the body, holding things together tightly and firmly, especially in terms of the skin.
- Glucosamine/Chondroitin Sulfate. This compound is found in the connective tissue and in the joints.
- COQ10. This works as an anti-oxidant, protecting cells from damage. It also plays a part in metabolism.
- Creatine. This molecule is stored in the muscles and brain, acting as an energy reserve. Our livers make this compound.
- Taurine. This is a sulfur compound that the body makes, but its function is not yet fully understood.
There are plenty of other compounds, including one that has scientists and researchers around the world talking; NAD+.
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD, is a cofactor found in every living cell on the planet. In fact, life would not be possible without it.
NAD exists in two forms, a reduced form, which is abbreviated as NADH and the oxidized form, which is NAD+.
To understand more about NAD+, let’s first talk about our mitochondria.
What Are Mitochondria?
The mitochondria of the body are known as the powerhouses of our cells. These specialized structures work like a mini-digestive system, taking in nutrients, breaking them down, and creating an energy-rich type of food for cells.
The job of mitochondria is to keep the cells of the body full of energy. Each cell has a different number of mitochondria, depending on its needs. For example, muscles have many mitochondria since they need more energy than neurons, that don’t require as much energy to function.
The Relationship Between NAD+ and Mitochondria
NAD+ is what helps the mitochondria maintain its good health. As you can imagine, if mitochondria are weak or damaged, it can’t give the body the energy it needs to function at its best.
This naturally occurring cofactor NAD+ is also necessary for keeping genes that can accelerate the aging process in the “off” position.
As we age, our levels of NAD+ decline, which leaves the mitochondria vulnerable to degeneration. This, in turn, causes our bodies to age since our ability for cellular repair has been compromised. Lower levels of NAD+ can also allow those genes which speed up the aging process to kick into high gear.
Not Something New but Newly Found Evidence
NAD+ was discovered back in 1906, although scientists didn’t know as much about how it functioned as they do today.
An exciting new discovery occurred in 2004 when Charles Brenner and his team found the pathways through which NAD operates and that feeding a precursor to NAD (nicotinamide riboside) to yeast gave it a longer lifespan.
Then in 2013, a study found when old mice were given this same precursor, they had improved muscle and stem cell function, and an extended lifespan. Researchers also noted that the mice had improved cognitive function due to reduced levels of amyloid plaque, the type found in Alzheimer’s patients.
Could NAD+ Be the Dietary Supplement of the Future?
While there are limited human studies done on the effectiveness of NAD+ on humans, there are trials currently underway, but the evidence to date has been nothing short of astounding.
Researchers have been able to show that NAD+ repairs damage that occurs to our DNA from everyday wear and tear.
Studies have also shown that NAD+ makes DNA repair more effective and increases the lifespan in animals.
NAD+ has been identified as playing a major role in patterns involving hunger, sleep cycles, and the circadian rhythm of the body. This means you might be able to control your weight simply by taking a NAD+ dietary supplement.
Think back to all the weight loss supplements you have ever heard of or perhaps even tried. Has even one of them panned out and given you amazing results without dieting? NAD+ holds the unique possibility of being a natural weight loss or sleep aid dietary supplement that isn’t addictive and doesn’t have side effects.
The Bottom Line
Dietary supplements can be very helpful when it comes to supplementing the body’s needs for certain vitamins and minerals, as well as natural substances that the body makes on its own, but that tends to wane as we age.
Of course, even NAD+ isn’t claiming to be the eternal fountain of youth, but imagine one dietary supplement that could help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, make you live longer, give you loads of energy, keep your heart healthy, your mind sharp, and manage your weight, all in one bottle?
This is certainly a very real possibility. Everyone is anxiously awaiting the results of human trials that are currently ongoing. With researchers increased knowledge of how NAD+ works, as well as animal studies that have confirmed their findings, this natural compound is expected to be a dietary supplement that will be the breakthrough product that generations have been waiting for.