Some experts argue that calorie restriction (including intermittent fasting) is an effective method for helping to slow down the body’s aging process, increase longevity and reduce the risk for a variety of diseases. But if slashing your daily calorie intake by up to a third sounds like the end of the world—it certainly does to me—new research conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder reveals there may be a much easier solution.
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, included 24 “lean and healthy” men and women ages 55 to 79, and compared test results of subjects who took a placebo versus those who took a daily dose of 1,000 mg of nicotinamide riboside chloride (commonly known as Niagen). Findings showed that when people took the daily supplement, it mimicked the chemical reaction of caloric restriction on the body, and as a result, it has the possibility to encourage the same long-term anti-aging effect and corresponding health benefits.
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“This was the first-ever study to give this novel compound to humans over a period of time,” said Doug Seals, senior author and professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology at University of Colorado Boulder, in a press release. “We found that it is well-tolerated and appears to activate some of the same key biological pathways that calorie restriction does.”
The research also showed the supplements improved blood pressure and arterial health, particularly in those with mild hypertension, and none of the participants reported any serious side effects. However, the study’s authors—Seals and lead author Chris Martens, former postdoctoral fellow at University of Colorado Boulder—are quick to acknowledge the study is small, calling it “pilot in nature.”
We asked Mineola, NY cardiologist Regina S. Druz, MD, for her feedback on the new findings. “According to this study, nicotinamide riboside chloride is well-tolerated. However, the study was small, and enrolled only healthy adults with no medical issues. In my opinion, it has not demonstrated any impactful data. There was a trend to lower blood pressure (BP) in a group of patients whose BP was elevated mildly, but no impact in normotensive [normal BP] patients. There was also a trend toward greater vascular relaxation with supplementation. However, this has not resulted in any clinically significant outcomes, as the study was too small and too short to ascertain that. Cardiovascular disease is a complex, multifactorial entity, and so is aging. We certainly do not have a fountain of youth in nicotinamide riboside chloride, although its role as a calorie-restriction mimetic may be helpful in patients with chronic diseases.”
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Since the study’s conclusion, Seals and Martens have applied for a grant to conduct a larger clinical trial to further investigate the impact of nicotinamide riboside chloride supplementation on blood pressure and arterial health. So although these supplements aren’t designed for everyone—make sure to speak to your doctor before taking them—this study is opening the door for more thorough research to come, which could have big impacts on the future of “anti-aging.”
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