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A recent study states that plasma NAD+ levels are lower in people consuming what the authors viewed as high levels of protein. The study has been posted and shared in groups in which people are focused on raising NAD+ levels and doing other things to lengthen their lives. So I wanted to look at it in that context.

My thoughts are:
  1. Protein is an essential nutrient. There is a great deal of evidence from multiple studies verifying that as we age, we need to increase, not decrease, our protein intake to stay healthy.
  2. If getting too much protein can be problematic, getting too little is likely a larger problem.
  3. The study did not look at the quality of the protein people were eating, or its source. It did not look at whether the protein was from plants or animals. It did not look at whether the portion that presumably came from animals was from ones raised on factory farms, fattened on synthetic hormones, and fed grains sprayed with glyphosate, or from small organic family farms.
  4. It’s telling that the levels of the other two macronutrients (fat and carbohydrates) weren’t also looked at in the study. The absence of this information makes the study suspect. This information is certainly relevant.
  5. Point being, if someone is having a big steak dinner followed by ice cream and apple pie — and snacking on chips all day — and having a beer or two in the afternoon — a standard American diet — and their NAD levels are dropping, it could well be the excess carbohydrates or unhealthy fats in the diet that are causing the problem. Measuring protein levels alone when looking at a person’s diet is almost meaningless data.
  6. The fact that the study’s authors did not look the levels of fat or carbohydrates, or report on them, suggests bias on the part of the study’s designers. Many studies nowadays are designed to “prove” that low meat diets, for example, are “healthy.” The bias is built into the study’s design, by what they elements the study ignores.
In sum, I’m glad researchers are looking at things that can effect NAD levels, including our consumption of different nutrients. But this study, which focuses on one macronutrient and excludes the others, is not a useful contribution to the discussion.
P.S. If it should turn out that the authors are correct, and that excess protein lowers NAD levels, people who are making the choice to eat more protein may want to balance out their “NAD footprint” by doing things which have been demonstrated to raise NAD levels, such as fasting, cold showers and HIIT exercise. They may also want to take more NAD activators such as resveratrol, and eat foods such as parsley, containing apigenin (a phytonutrient that helps keep NAD levels high).