A new dietary supplement claims to have anti-aging effects, but is there data to support these claims? The startup company Elysium Health is releasing this week Basis, a pill containing the chemical precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), a compound used by cells use for metabolic functions. This compound is believed to cause effects similar to caloric restriction, such as releasing energy from glucose.

Prior research has indicated that the lifespan of mice can be extended by feeding them less food possibly due to the mediation by biological molecules called sirtuins. NAD is necessary for sirtuins to work and is also needed for other areas of cell metabolism; as we age, NAD levels decline. The idea is that the body will convert the precursor (nicotinamide riboside) to NAD with use of the supplement, along with the antioxidant pterostilbene that also stimulates sirtuins.

Because the product will be marketed as a supplement, preliminary testing will be conducted to ensure that the products are not toxic but no clinical trials will be conducted. The company is not planning to seek FDA approval.

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