Closing in on the Fountain of Youth

Closing in on the Fountain of Youth

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Many adults spend a lot of time and money trying to look younger—topical creams, makeup, hairstyles, facial peels, facial CO2 lasers, and, of course, enhancements like fillers, Botox, and plastic surgery. We exercise like crazy to keep our physiques in shape. We diet. We drink green smoothies. Whatever it takes.

As much as this may work on the outside, on the inside your body is still aging. You may still feel groggy or have a general lack of energy. You may experience chronic headaches and joint pain or inflammation. You may gain weight and feel like you can’t get that extra two inches off your waist no matter what you do. Your blood pressure and cholesterol and sugar levels may be rising. Most diseases, in fact, are diseases of aging; therefore, as you age, by definition you have a higher risk for disease.

Researchers are developing solutions to stall nature. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD+, is a naturally occurring cofactor/coenzyme derived from Vitamin B3 (niacin, which is present in all living cells) and a nucleotide (which is what your DNA is made of). NAD+ starts to diminish as we age, so research has focused on the impact of reintroducing NAD+ to the body. Many doctors of functional medicine are increasingly optimistic that we can turn the clock around using the right therapies.

Reversing the Age of Cells
Harvard genetics professor Dr. David Sinclair and a team of 30 scientists are working around the clock to understand how to reverse disease, not just slow it down. And here’s the kicker—they have actually figured it out. Studies have shown how to delay aging significantly, and in some cases, how to actually reverse the age of cells.

Researchers take a menopausal female mouse, based on the quality of its eggs, and confirm she is infertile. Then, they give this mouse an NAD+ precursor molecule called NMN and watch as her biologic age is reversed to a more youthful state, as measured on nine metrics. Later, a retest of the quality of her eggs shows them to be fertile; she then becomes pregnant and has children. These results have been replicated in several mice.

Quite simply, this is groundbreaking research. Not only could researchers reverse a menopausal, infertile mouse into a youthful, fertile one, but researchers could double the lifespan of a laboratory mouse from two years to four or five years. If they can double the lifespan of a mouse, could they eventually double the lifespan of humans? Our current lifespan is about 81 years for women and 77 years for men, but Sinclair feels that with safe human doses, there is no reason humans can’t live to be 115 years old.

Additionally, Sinclair found that mice had a longer lifespan and health span (years in a healthy state), and that they did not get sick and die until the very end of their lives. In other words, increasing lifespan did not come with more disease, but actually less disease and a quick death. If this could translate to humans, it sounds like the perfect situation for longevity—a nice, long retirement and then a quick death. Sign me up! Sinclair’s book, Lifespan: Why We Age—and Why We Don’t Have To, is a bestseller. This is absolutely revolutionary research, and it’s happening right now.

Impact on Sleep
When you sleep, you have REM and deep sleep. REM is the dream part of sleep that typically occurs in the early morning hours right before you wake up, which is why you wake up from dreams so much in the morning. This type of REM sleep is essential for your mental health and cognition. If you consistently lack REM sleep, there can serious consequences to your mental and emotional health. You need at least one hour of REM sleep each night.

Deep sleep occurs in the earlier part of the night, right when you go to bed. It’s mostly responsible for your body’s regeneration and without it, you will feel unrested and have lower heart rate variability, or HRV, scores. High HRV scores, meaning heart rate goes up and down quickly in response to stress, are preferred. We need about one hour of deep sleep a night; unfortunately, many people are in light sleep most of the night. Deep sleep and REM sleep components are essential to our well-being, and many of us don’t realize we may not be getting enough of these types of sleep.

My patients who use NAD+ regularly consistently experience about a 30% increase in deep sleep as measured by sleep trackers like the Fitbit or Oura ring. I personally use an Oura ring every night. Prior to NAD+ oral therapy, I would get an average of 40–50 minutes of deep sleep nightly. Now, I am clocking an average of 80 minutes a night. This increase is vital, as quality of sleep is significantly improved and we awaken refreshed and ready to conquer the day.

Benefits of NAD+
The benefits of NAD+ are far-reaching within the human body and can impact an individual’s:

  • Brain: Potentially slows cognitive decline and promotes healthy brain function, mental clarity, higher concentration levels and memory function. Studies in mice showed these results. Now, studies are underway involving humans with Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Mental health: Potentially helps control depression, anxiety and mood disorders. Research has shown that people with critically low levels of NAD+ are at a higher risk for developing problems related to addiction, anxiety, and other mental disorders.
  • Energy: Boosts energy levels and fights chronic fatigue. NAD+ inserts itself directly into the Kreb’s cycle, or the energy cycle in the mitochondria of your cells that create energy. As we age, our natural levels of NAD+ decline, explaining why fatigue is the primary complaint among older adults.
  • Metabolism: Gives a jolt to metabolism, which burns fat and helps the body regulate blood sugar levels. In studies, diabetic and obese rats showed improvements in their metabolism with NAD+ supplementation.
  • Rejuvenation: Allows cells to regenerate and repair, healing the body as it recovers from injuries and rigorous exercise. NAD+ is a sirtuin activator, and a very strong one at that. These sirtuin genes have the ability to repair cells and regress them to a more youthful state.

The Ultimate Biohack to Increase Energy
NAD+ decreases as you age in a linear fashion. NAD+ is also what inserts itself three times into the Kreb’s cycle, which is the energy cycle of your cells. As you age, you make less NAD+ and cannot make enough energy. What if we figured out the ultimate biohack to increase our energy levels? What if the key is NAD+, and how do we increase this as humans?

There is a lot of data on oral forms of NAD+ precursors like NR and NMN that can be taken orally. Studies have shown a significant increase in blood NAD+ levels after just a few hours. So far, there are no toxicities noted in human trials using these molecules. NAD+ is already being referenced as the body’s anti-aging molecule. As a supplement, NAD+ does not need FDA approval, so it’s available today to the general public.

Therapy Options
There are two primary ways to receive NAD+ treatments:

  • IV therapy: This treatment option has grown in popularity because vitamins, minerals, and nutrients are introduced directly into a patient’s bloodstream. This allows for quick absorption and immediate impacts. IV therapies are conducted in a doctor’s office or medical clinic.
  • Oral supplements: Just like a multivitamin or supplement, taking NAD+, NMN, or NR in tablet or powder form introduces the treatment through an individual’s digestive system. Patients can take oral supplements daily from their home.

Is this the fountain of youth? It’s possibly the closest thing we’ve ever discovered. All of us want to look younger, but we should be focused on living longer, healthy and pain-free lives. Science shows that the fountain of youth isn’t found in a mythical spring, rather potentially as NAD+ within our own bodies. Some of us just need a little extra as our levels decrease with age.

As always, please consult with your physician prior to making any substantial lifestyle, health, or nutritional changes.

Dr. Eduardo Maristany is a board-certified internal medicine physician who specializes in functional and integrative medicine, genomics testing and men’s health at the Naples Center for Functional Medicine.

For more information, call 239.649.7400 or visit: NaplesCFM.com.