What is NAD?
NAD was discovered in 1906, with it’s importance slowly discovered over the next 120 years. Even in 1930, Euler-Chelpin, in his Nobel Prize speech, referred to as “one of the most widespread and biologically most important activators within the plant and animal world.”
NAD is constantly being naturally produced and recycled by your body keeping levels as high as possible, but it is also boosted from the food we eat in various forms of Vitamin B3, including Niacin, Nicotinamide, Nicotinamide Mononucleotide, and Nicotinamide Riboside.
How it works
For cellular respiration, the extraction of energy from food molecules is what is known as oxidation. Oxidation means the removal of hydrogen, which is equal to 2 high energy electrons, from the food molecule.
The importance of NAD lies here. NAD acts as the transporter, or carrier, of the hydrogen in this process, and exists in two forms, NAD+ and NADH, dependent on whether it is carrying hydrogen, or it is not.
NADH then transports and donates the electrons to cells, enzymes and proteins that need energy vital for life! With each of these transfers of electrons, through the chemical reactions that occur, cellular energy – ATP is generated!
Once NADH has donated and no longer has its hydrogen atom, it transforms back to NAD+ and begins the cycle again
Powering the Mitochondria
There are three stages to the creation of cellular energy (ATP) by cellular respiration however the most, by far, is produced through NADH delivering electrons directly to inner membrane of a cell’s mitochondria where they are transferred to a structure called the electron transport chain.
When there are less NAD transporters, fewer nutrients get processed by the mitochondria, leading to lower ATP production.
The electron transport chain is a collection of carrier proteins. Carrier proteins are important molecules which facilitate the movement of hydrogen ions and electrons across the inner membrane, between the matrix and intermembrane space.
The electrons delivered by NADH are used to create energy for the carrier proteins in order to “pump” hydrogen ions from the center of the mitochondria (the matrix), across the inner membrane to the intermembrane space.
As the mitochondria requires a relatively equal amount of hydrogen ions on either side of the inner membrane, the hydrogen ions are then natural pumps back through.
It is the flow of these positive charges back across the inner membrane through a protein called ATP synthase that produces.
Enzymes - vital for life
They are vital for life and serve a wide range of important functions in the body, such as aiding in digestion, metabolism, cell renewal and growth.
They are the workshops of our body – by breaking down larger ones in to smaller ones, and combining molecules to make a new ones, they create the energy and molecules we need, in the quantity we need them, when we need them. The ATP synthase, discussed above, is an enzyme critical for creating the cellular energy – ATP.