The Molecule of Youth
Drinks? I’m tired; I’ll raincheck. It’s Friday and I just want to head home and catch up on some snooze.
Let’s face the truth, we aren’t as young as we used to be. Aging has many wonderful aspects, but the nights are no longer young for me anymore.
As we age, we will experience a noticeable increase in fatigue and loss of motivation. Our physical tiredness directly reflects the internal impairment of cellular functions critical to sustaining life.
Our human body is composed of trillions of cells. They are the basic units of life. Each cell has its specific role and they work together to enable bodily functions (e.g. growth and metabolism). These cellular processes require energy to function.
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a co-enzyme that is present naturally in every single cell of our bodies. It is essential for all living processes as it enables the transfer of energy from food to fuel vital cellular functions. The key role of NAD+ in the production of cellular energy ensures our bodies to retain its constant state of health. Unfortunately, as we grow older, the NAD+ levels in our body decline as well.
The powerhouses of our cells are known as mitochondria. NAD+ plays an important role in transferring energy released from our dietary intake to the mitochondria so that it can be converted into cellular energy. As the NAD+ levels fall with age, the mitochondria lose their functions, resulting in lower cellular energy production. Consequently, this leads to physical symptoms of aging such as chronic fatigue and weakness.
On the other hand, NAD+ combats aging by directly activating “sirtuins”, the enzymes involved in the regulation of genes of aging. Therefore, a boost in the NAD+ levels will help sirtuins to gain control on our genes in ways that promote healthy aging.
Our bodies suffer from wear and tear too. As we turn older each year, our DNA repair machinery falters progressively, leading to more and more unrepaired damaged DNA in the cells. The accumulation of damaged DNA will cause our bodies to deteriorate over time, i.e. aging. Various researches have shown that NAD+ has a unique ability to delay aging by complementing an enzyme known as poly-ADP-ribose polymerase-1 (PARP-1) to ensure the growth of healthy DNA, maintaining our bodies’ youth.
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Written by U Jean Tan
U Jean is a certified Pharmacist. She received her B.Pharm from Monash University.