I thought for a long time that just the presence of ketones in the blood, is what made me feel amazing but as I dived down the rabbit hole, I realised the true feeling of ketosis I was feeling was, in fact, the increase of my NAD+/NADH turnover due to the extra free fatty acid oxidation.
On the converse, my beautiful wife who suffers from CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) has a very low available NADH in this regard, I am fortunate rather than mistakenly thinking she isn’t eating ketogenic enough is the reason.
This is the main reason why many struggle to feel the positive benefits of Ketosis, low-carb, Paleo, fasting and maintaining energy levels in general, in fact following a ketogenic diet may make you feel more exhausted.
As you can see from the chart below how creating ketones in the liver increases the availability of NAD+/NADH that feeds into the TCA cycle to create more ATP.
Importance of NADH
Your body is filled with NADH . And just like air and food, without NADH the body’s cells die. When cellular energy declines below a certain threshold, the cell dies and the tissue degenerates. As the levels of NADH in the body decrease, the body is prone to degenerative diseases.
What years of clinical research have found is NADH plays the following important roles:
- Energy production within every human cell.
- Repairing damaged and wounded cells.
- Cellular DNA repairs.
- Enhance and energise the body’s immune system.
- Most potent antioxidant in all of nature.
- Clinical studies have proven NADH enables the creation of neurotransmitters.
Origins of NADH
NADH starts its life as NAD+. We can think of NAD+ like a passenger at a train station, in order to enter the train station, the passenger requires a hydrogen ticket from the ticket booth (enzyme). Once the NAD+passenger receives the hydrogen ticket they become known as a NADH passenger and is entitled to enter the station and ride the train down the electron transport chain. Once the NADH passenger reaches the destination it delivers their hydrogen ticket to create energy down the electron transport chain.
What are NAD+ and NADH?
NAD+ is a molecule and NADH is coenzyme (Unlike DHEA and melatonin, NADH is not a hormone, but a coenzyme) created when a hydrogen molecule from another oxidised molecule gets given NAD+ in an enzyme.
NADH is necessary for cellular development and energy production. It is essential to produce energy from foods and is the principal carrier of electrons for the cells to produce energy, technically NADH is a highly powerful form of vitamin B3 commonly referred to as niacin or niacinamide.
Once NADH travels through the mitochondria and is passed down to other carriers it is used to pump more hydrogens, and the buildup of these hydrogens is what creates energy through ATP synthase to make ATP.
Powering up NADH
If your supply of NAD+ is currently optimal it is important to also understand that one of the most important sources to charge NADH & NAD+ through the power of Excitons from the UV light from the sun.
The video below shows how excitons interact with the chlorophyll (similar to our blood) in the leaves of plants to excite plants cells for energy.
As you can start to see food alone is not the driver for higher energy production.
I am fortunate that going ketogenic feels amazing for me because I have enough NAD+ passengers to buy hydrogen tickets and become NADH. I have found that when I increase my available energy by utilising exogenous ketones, I feel hyper-energetic to the point that I sometimes feel over charged.
When people with a lower amount of available NAD+ consume exogenous ketones, they may find it makes them feel excessively tired, this is because the body can not create enough NADH from the extra provided fuel, this is one of the reasons why NOT everyone feels awesome drinking exogenous ketones.
As you can see, we really need to be looking at increasing NAD+ availability in order to have sufficient levels of NADH and also ensure we are correctly charging those NADH and NAD+ molecules.
The fewer NAD+passengers you have, the fewer hydrogen tickets arrive at various stations.
People suffering lower levels of NAD+ will struggle to feel the positive benefits of Ketosis, low-carb, Paleo, fasting and maintaining energy in general, in fact, a ketogenic diet would most likely make you feel more exhausted.
This can be common for people like my beautiful wife who suffers from CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) has a very low available NADH. (2)
Unfortunately, the production of NADH in our bodies declines as we age, and so does the production of NADH-dependent enzymes, particularly those enzymes involved in energy production. Some individuals may even get lower levels faster, due to their environment, genetics, disease state, lifestyle and age.
In future posts, I plan to go into more depth on how to raise your NAD+ levels but in the mean time listen to this fun musical lecture by Glenn Wolkenfeld about the mitochondrial electron transport chain and how Glycolysis and Krebs make NADH and how ATP is produced in the mitochondria.