Generally correlated with the aging process, Parkinson’s Disease affects 1-2% of the human population above the age of 65. Also correlated with the aging process is a reduction in muscular and cellular NAD levels. NAD is a critical molecule in cellular metabolism and DNA repair.
For this reason, supplementation with nicotinamide riboside (NR) which converts to NAD in the body, was looked at in a recent double-blinded placebo-controlled trial in patients with Parkinson’s disease to see if it could help as a treatment.
The “NADPARK” trial produced really positive findings. It showed NR supplementation raised NAD levels in the brain, reduced markers of inflammation in the brain, and affected the NAD metabolic ecosystem in the brain while showing an almost universal metabolic response to the molecule, and in the end it improved clinical markers of Parkinson’s.
NAD, or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, is a critical molecule for the most important physiological processes. In fact, if NAD ceased to exist, so would life itself. Furthermore, it would take only a few moments for Earth to return to its barren, 4 billion-year-old origin.
Quite remarkably, there is almost no NAD in any food source we eat, and our bodies evolved the NAD Salvage Pathway as a massive recycling apparatus to pull NAD out of, and convert it from, other molecules.
For humans, the oxidized form of NAD, NAD+, is the most utilized form of NAD. Study of NAD+ replenishment in humans is a field of growing scientific inquiry, and of the various compounds found to raise NAD+ levels, nicotinamide riboside is one of the most studied.
NR raises brain NAD levels – reduces inflammation
In the preamble, the study confirms that NR supplementation consisting of 1,000 milligrams for 30 days reduced the effects of Parkinson’s, and proved that in most people, NR increases levels of NAD in the brain by about 10%.
The authors detail how NR supplementation in humans has been shown to lower signs of inflammation, and in animal models it’s been shown to promote healthspan, or the length of a lifespan free of chronic disease, decrease a notable cancer enzyme, as well as confer neuroprotective effects in the cases of Alzheimer’s, noise-induced injury, and ALS, and significantly improve health outcomes for rat mothers and their offspring.
The question of inflammation is notable, as inflammation is a keystone driver of not only the aging process but also the depletion of NAD levels as we age.
Last year, researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging found that chronic inflammation leads to the upregulation of an inflammatory protein CD38 which degrades cellular NAD+ levels. Other damage to NAD came from senescent cells.
Senescent cells are those which are not dead and not alive. They release inflammatory molecules throughout our lives unless they are killed by certain compounds, mostly those found in plant parts like grapeseed. These cause CD38 macrophages to proliferate, further decreasing NAD+.
The NADPARK study found that, at least in the brain, and at least in Parkinson’s patients, NR supplementation of 1,000 milligrams per day reduced inflammatory proteins, thereby reducing their effect on depleting NAD levels, in addition to raising NAD levels.
As scientists continue to test NR in humans, a better picture of its use is emerging. It seems to be largely well-tolerated in humans, even into doses as high as 2 grams per day. Clinicians are often a decade or more behind current science, and the supplement industry is moving into this space faster than broad-reaching literature can be published.
At least for now though, it seems that the value of an NR supplement is only increasing. WaL