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Can A New Dietary Supplement Fight Ageing At A Cellular Level?

Professor Charles Brenner, the man behind the new supplement Tru Niagen, believes the answer is yes

One of the ways Tru Niagen claims to help us age better is by increasing NAD (naturally-occurring nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) levels. What are the primary causes of NAD deficiency, and why should we be concerned about it?
NAD deficiencies arise from conditions of metabolic stress including overeating, overdrinking, sunlight and oxygen exposure, loud noise, time zone disruption, heart failure, neurodegeneration and aging.

As you may surmise, NAD deficiencies can arise in many different tissues including the liver, skin, cochlea, heart, brain and peripheral nerves. When I am in a room explaining metabolic stresses, I often ask how many people would enjoy hopping on a plane to Ibiza to sit in the sun and fresh air, listening to loud music, and enjoying food and drink. Almost everyone says they’d like to do that. So, in fact, many of us — through our business or pleasure — experience multiple metabolic stresses as a part of our lifestyle. Disease processes and aging add to the decline in NAD in multiple tissues.

Where in the body does NAD originate?
Some of our tissues can form NAD from tryptophan, an amino acid. Most tissues like the heart and brain depend on vitamin precursors of NAD, of which there are three. Nicotinic acid (niacin) and nicotinamide are forms of vitamin B3 that were discovered in 1938.

I showed in 2004 that nicotinamide riboside (NR) is a third form of vitamin B3 that is available to organisms from yeast to people. NR costs less energy for tissues to regenerate NAD, so it is almost always the preferred vitamin for a metabolically stressed tissue like a failing heart or neuron. In addition, high dose niacin causes a flush reaction while high dose nicotinamide inhibits some of the enzymes we are trying to boost.

One of the key components contained in Tru Niagen is nicotinamide riboside (NR). From where is the NR in Tru Niagen derived?
Tru Niagen is pure NR chloride and products called Niagen are the only NR available anywhere that are covered by US and international patents and safety notifications from the US Food & Drug Administration. We initially found NR in cow’s milk, but we now produce NR in a lab without using animal ingredients.

Who is Tru Niagen for?
Tru Niagen is taken by athletes, busy mums and dads, highly-driven executives, people looking for a boosted and resilient metabolism, and truly anyone who wants a lifehack to age better.

How long has this product been in the works for?
There’s a sense in which a safe, commercial NR was anticipated for time-immemorial because we’ve discovered that damaged heart and nerve cells turn on the NR kinase pathway — this information reveals that our bodies are programmed to look for NR when they under metabolic stress. Turn-on of the NR pathway is what’s called a homeostatic mechanism.

For example, a mouse whose heart is going to fail turns on the NR kinase 2 gene before it is sick such that supplementation with oral NR keeps it healthy despite genetic heart disease. These discoveries tell us that NR as a vitamin or ultimately a therapeutic drug was anticipated by nature itself. So, let’s gratefully give props to nature as step 0 in development of Tru Niagen.

The first step was in 2004, when we discovered NR as a human vitamin and found the NR kinase genes that are essential for NR activity. And as I just explained, we continue to use the time-and-place activity of NR kinase genes as a roadmap for the potential health benefits of Tru Niagen. Of course, if you are taking Tru Niagen, your body is prepared to resist the metabolic stresses that you will encounter.

The second step was in 2012-2013 when ChromaDex licensed our intellectual property and started selling Niagen an ingredient.

The most recent step is today, when Tru Niagen is being introduced to the New Zealand market, and I am delighted to be here to educate health-conscious consumers.

What benefits can Tru Niagen users expect to see?
Some people report an increase in their energy, endurance and/or workout recovery on the first day of taking Tru Niagen. Many others report improvements in concentration, sleep, digestive health and other measures of wellness in their 2nd or 3rd week. There are anecdotal reports of improved libido, which could be due to NADPH levels increasing sex hormones, but could also be due to people sleeping better and the virtuous cycle of better energy and/or more physical activity. Almost everyone notices that their nails and hair grow faster (sorry, folks, not fuller) and that they have become more resistant to jet lag and winter colds, and that they heal better from minor scrapes.

All of these areas are topics of clinical testing now that five clinical trials have shown that Tru Niagen is safe at doses of up to 2 grams per day in healthy and overweight adults. There have already been indications from clinical testing that high dose Tru Niagen may help lower moderately elevated blood pressure and help people burn off fatty liver.

Can Tru Niagen be used in conjunction with other supplements?
Nothing worrisome has emerged from clinical testing about interactions with other supplements or drugs but we always advise people to ask their doctor, especially if they are medicated for a disease or condition. As you know, Tru Niagen is sold without a prescription to improve wellness.

How does Tru Niagen differ from other supplements available that support the body’s mitochondria?
NAD coenzymes (there are actually 4 of them) are the central regulators of metabolism, not only in mitochondria, but also in the nucleus and cytoplasm of all of our cells allowing us to turn on and off our genes, contract our muscles, synthesize our hormones, detoxify free radicals, and transmit information along our nerves.

There are a lot of substances that are important for mitochondrial function. For example, riboflavin gets built up into the FAD coenzyme and pantothenate gets built up into coenzyme A just like NR gets built up into NAD. But those other compounds don’t get degraded in the course of metabolic stress or aging. The use case for Tru Niagen is that unlike the other coenyzmes, NAD is degraded in conditions of metabolic stress — so just when we need more of it, the levels of NAD coenzymes are under attack. The fact that NR restores NAD coenzyme levels at a lower ATP cost explains its unique activities.

Following launches in Singapore, Hong Kong and the US, New Zealand is next in line to with Tru Niagen. How do Kiwis approach health compared to these other markets?
This is my first time in New Zealand so I can’t say I am expert on how New Zealanders approach life but I truly think that what we get out of life is directly related to what we put in. Tru Niagen is a terrific science-based investment in wellness that is designed to allow people to cruise through the bumps and disruptions of life and age better.

For more information visit Truniagen.co.nz

• Charles Brenner — PhD, Roy J Carver Chair & Head of Biochemistry, Professor of Internal Medicine, & Founding Co-Director of the University of Iowa Obesity Initiative. Chief Scientific Adviser, ChromaDex, Inc

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