No matter how many anti-aging lotions and potions I rub into my skin, it’s unlikely that I’m going to wake up one day soon, glance in the mirror, and see my 30-old- face staring back at me. But the burgeoning nutritional supplement market, estimated at a whopping $20+ billion, consistently promises it can help me live healthier– and feel younger. Although I’d be willing to keep my crow’s feet and laugh lines, in exchange for feeling as tip-top as I did decades ago, so many supplement claims seem downright absurd, even if Dr.
Oz is making them!
It got my attention, however, when I heard that a Stanford-educated PhD, with his advanced degree in cancer biology, had discovered a vitamin that actually could reduce the effects of aging and prompt our cells to act like they did when we were younger. Was this for real?
I wanted to learn more, so I arranged for an interview with Dr. Charles Brenner, the scientist, and asked him to explain his discovery in non-scientific terms. If a highly educated scientist hoped to teach me anything, he had to make it simple. Biology was my worst subject in high school!
Discovering The Pathway To Cell Longevity
Dr. Brenner is the polar opposite of Dr. Oz when it comes to publicity; that’s why you’ve likely never heard his name. The brilliant scientist discovered the pathway between nicotinamide riboside (NR), a miracle molecule with exciting ‘anti-aging’ abilities, and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which is the single most important molecule in every single cell of our bodies. Now Dr. Brenner is speaking out about his discovery, because many companies misleadingly claim that their supplements can do the same thing as supplements with NR. That’s simply not true, he asserts!
“OK, so what’s the big deal about NR?” I asked Dr. Brenner. “We all absolutely need it,” he quickly responded. “NR is a form of vitamin B3 that helps our cells to produce NAD. NAD performs a number of critical functions: It enables our cells to convert the fats, proteins and carbohydrates we eat into the energy we need to stay in top shape. It also activates our longevity genes, known in the scientific community as sirtuin genes, which regulate cellular aging and the chemical and biological processes that help us maintain healthy and fit lives. Those processes are called metabolism,” Dr. Brenner told me. Unfortunately, our level of NAD substantially declines as our bodies slow down with age, making us more susceptible to certain health issues, like hearing loss, rare muscle diseases, nerve damage, heart conditions, obesity, diabetes, and more. Aging is the biggest risk factor for many of the diseases that kill us. Doing cardio and weight-bearing exercises all week, consuming a diet of nutritious whole foods, getting adequate sleep, and staying away from smoking and drinking, WON’T stop the decline of NAD, Dr. Brenner emphasizes.
NAD gives our metabolism the extra push it needs to reduce the effects of aging, and make the cells function like they did when they were younger. That’s a big deal.
Here’s another way to think about NR: It’s like the fuel to keep an engine functioning in an energy-efficient car. “As the engine becomes older, it becomes less efficient, and requires more fuel to keep it maintained,” Dr. Brenner explains. “Cells damaged by the inevitable stresses of life, such as aging, exposure to sun, or alcohol, look for NR in order to replenish their NAD and repair the damage.” If they can’t get it, they die. Prior to Dr. Brenner’s discovery, our cells could produce NAD with the help of tryptophan, an amino acid which synthesises protein, or from niacin and nicotinamide, also forms of vitamin B3. “But each of them has limitations,” Dr. Brenner reports. “Tryptophan is just plain inefficient; niacin at high doses causes flushing, and nicotinamide inhibits sirtuins, those genes I was talking about before that lengthen life, and help treat age-related diseases like diabetes, neurodegeneration, and cancer. The other compounds have been available since the late 1930s, but they don’t provide the additional advantages of NR.”
NR increases NAD, but doesn’t inhibit sirtuins, won’t cause flushing, and is the vitamin that our stressed cells look for to regenerate their vital NAD. When the scientific community first looked at Dr. Brenner’s research, it was excited to see that he had discovered something that would help the aging population to maintain muscle mass and function, as well as heart, nerve and cognitive function. Soon to release the results of a clinical trial , Dr. Brenner expects it to show that the NAD levels of healthy humans increased, even when they took single doses of NR.
There’s more good news: Dr. Brenner is co-founder and the chief scientist of a company called ProHealthspan, which distributes an NR supplement under the brand name TruNIAGEN®. He wants to assure us that we’re getting the real benefits of his important discovery, and to be wary of other brands that claim to turn back the clock.
People who have started taking TruNIAGEN report subtle changes in their overall feelings of well-being; improved sleep quality; consistent energy; improved cognitive function, and skin health within four to 16 weeks of taking their first dose.
Dr. Brenner also looks forward to determining the role of TruNIAGEN® in improving cholesterol, and helping with weight management, diabetes and neuropathy. “We’re hoping to enroll patients this year in a breast cancer neuropathy trial,” he says.
“My educated guess is that the more stresses a person has, the more TruNIAGEN® will be helpful,” Dr. Brenner claims. “It will be beneficial even when you’re in your 70s and 80s!”