Restore Your Age

As the world’s aging population grows rapidly, so has its appetite for health tips, tricks and products that could help guard against the ravages of time. Among countless dietary supplements—vitamins, minerals and other products—some people have pinned their hopes on a molecule called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), a key player in the cellular production of energy. Often written as NAD+, the name of its oxidized form, the molecule participates in a host of metabolic pathways and is involved in other important processes, such as DNA repair. NAD+ levels naturally decline as people and animals age, and this loss has been proposed as contributing to the underlying physiology of aging.

Studies show that boosting NAD+ levels can extend life span in yeast, worms and mice. Animal research also indicates NAD+’s promise for improving several aspects of health. Raising levels of the molecule in old mice appears to rejuvenate mitochondria—the cell’s energy factories, which falter over time. Other mouse studies have demonstrated benefits such as improved cardiovascular function, enhanced muscle regeneration and better glucose metabolism with NAD+ supplementation.

Banking on such results, multiple companies currently sell dietary supplements containing NAD+ precursors such as nicotinamide riboside (NR) or nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). NR supplements, in particular, have attracted buzz for the scientific star power associated with two major suppliers, ChromaDex and Elysium Health. The companies’ research advisers hail from institutions such as Stanford, Harvard and Columbia University. Elysium’s scientific advisory board currently boasts eight Nobel laureates.