What is NAD+?
You are living in a world where you need to pay in the form of currency to get something you want in return. If we talk about the cell, molecules work like a currency. But particularly, the currency for energy and respiration is electrons and hydrogen. To make energy, the cell has to use hydrogen and electrons. But the question is how the cell gets the hydrogen an electron to create and store energy? This is the place where the electron carriers are used. One of the carriers is called NAD+ or Nicotinamide Adenine Dinculeotide.
NAD+ is considered as a very important carrier for electrons and hydrogen to the cell and also responsible for the continued production of the ATP energy with the help of Mitochondria which essentially helps and prevents ageing.
Function of NAD+:
NAD+ works as a carrier for the electrons and hydrogen for the cell. On the other hand, NADH acts as a donor for hydrogen and electrons. You can assume that the NADH gives the money and NAD+ takes it. Now we need to understand a few things that when does NAD+ takes money, why does NADH gives it and when it gives it away?
The cell needs to have the energy to survive, and if it wants to make energy, it needs electrons and hydrogen that are given away by NADH. So NADH is critical element in cellular respiration that helps to produce energy.
Two electrons are given away by NADH to the ETC, and the allows the hydrogen to be used and also help in moving the electrons with ETC. You can also find a few different clumps of molecules that move the hydrogen and electrons. These are called complexes. The first one is known as the Complex I. this is the complex where NADH gives away two hydrogen and electrons.
Now we know why and where NADH gives the electrons and hydrogen. It is time to understand where it gets the hydrogen and electrons to give away? This is the point where we NAD+ comes in.
When the glycolysis process is going on, the process where the glucose is broken down, there is energy which is released in the form of electrons. If there is nothing to accept these electrons, that released energy would probably just like the heat. One molecule of the glucose can be broken down into two pyruvate molecules.
This is the process where NAD+ accepts hydrogen and electrons. As a result, for every one molecule of the glucose, there are always two molecules of NADH are formed. Moreover, the two molecules of the pyruvate are changed and converted to form the two molecules of acetyl-CoA. This process is known as pyruvate oxidation.
In this process, NAD+ collects more hydrogen and electrons. The pathways of the acetyl-CoA molecules are of immense varieties and very important for the cell as well. It is a process when the NAD+ collects the electrons and hydrogen to give them to the cell so that it can make energy.