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How Does NMN Work?
Thanks to modern medicine, humans are living longer. But with increased longevity comes a higher risk of developing age-related diseases. Today, we’re seeing an uptick in the prevalence of metabolic disorders like diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.
As such, more and more healthy adults are looking to pre-empt the negative effects of aging through better nutrition, exercise, lifestyle changes, and anti-aging vitamins and supplements. One such dietary supplement is NMN.
But how does NMN work, exactly? What are its health benefits? And how can you start NMN supplementation? Read on to find out.
How Does NMN Work?
Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) is a dietary supplement with a lot of promise. As a precursor to NAD, a substance that plays dozens of key functions in our cells, including DNA repair, NMN is being studied as a way to potentially curb the aging process and reduce the risk of developing certain age-related diseases.
But before we talk about NMN, let’s break down what NAD (often written as NAD+) is. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a coenzyme present in all living cells. It allows our bodies to function normally by boosting cellular energy and regulating the repair of cellular pathways. But aside from this, NAD+ also feeds the molecular machinery within our cells that focuses on repairing DNA damage – damage that is believed to be one of the main causes of aging.
Now, where does NMN fit into all of this? Think of NMN as a raw material used in the production of NAD+. This nucleotide is believed to be partially responsible for raising NAD+ levels in our cells, thus encouraging DNA repair and consequently slowing the effects of aging on the human body.
NAD+ levels are dependent on the availability of NMN in the body, but these levels naturally decline over time as we age. So, what can be done about it?
Calorie restriction is said to be one effective way of increasing one’s NAD+ levels. Another method is by increasing the consumption of NMN-rich foods. Finally, there are NMN supplements, which are proving to be a stable and reliable way of activating NAD+ in the body.
Several animal studies have already shown that orally-administered NMN supplements can provide a wide array of anti-aging benefits, including improving cognitive function, suppressing age-associated weight gain, slowing age-associated physiological decline, and improving insulin sensitivity.
How Is NMN Synthesized In The Human Body?
NMN is created in the body when the enzyme nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT) attaches B vitamins to a sugar-phosphate called PRPP (5’-phosphoribosyl-1-pyrophosphate) or nicotinamide riboside (NR) is added to a phosphate group.
In short, NMN is a naturally-occurring molecule and a derivative of B vitamins.
Can You Increase Your NMN Levels Naturally?
Some believe that NMN levels can be increased naturally through two ways: consuming various NMN-rich foods and exercising regularly.
These are some of the foods that are reportedly high in NMN:
|Food||NMN per serving size||Serving size|
|Avocados||0.18 mg to 0.8 mg||50 grams|
|Broccoli||0.37 mg to 1.68 mg||1 cup|
|Cabbage||0.9 mg||100 grams|
|Cucumber||0.25 mg to 1.87 mg||100 grams|
|Edamame||0.18 mg to 0.84 mg||½ cup|
|Tomatoes||0.26 mg to 0.30 mg||100 grams|
|Raw beef||0.06 mg to 0.42 mg||100 grams|
The following foods, on the other hand, are rich in NAD+ and nicotinamide riboside (NR), another NAD+ precursor:
- Whole grains
You may have noticed that it would take an unrealistic amount of the aforementioned foods to reach at least 250 mg of NMN a day. Thus, attempting to boost your NMN levels through dietary changes alone isn’t very practical. And although exercising regularly can improve fat metabolism and improve your overall health, it isn’t feasible for people who are busy, disabled, or too old to endure vigorous exercise.
As such, more people are considering NMN supplements, which are proving to be a fast, efficient, and cost-effective way of upping one’s NMN levels.
The Potential Benefits Of NMN Supplements
Let’s take a closer look at some of the potential benefits of taking NMN supplements and how they can slow aging and help alleviate age-related concerns.
Reduce The Risk of Diabetes
Some studies have found that NAD precursors may have a hand in reducing body weight, which is a good sign for those who are worried about developing diabetes later in life.
Obesity is one of the leading risk factors for diabetes, accounting for 80 to 85% of the risk. This is due to the presence of excess abdominal fat, which studies have shown to release “pro-inflammatory” chemicals that lower insulin sensitivity and, in turn, one’s ability to respond to insulin.
In a small trial conducted with prediabetic women who are overweight or obese, it was found that NMN given through oral administration led to increased insulin sensitivity and insulin signaling in the muscles.
Improve Blood Flow
In a study involving elderly mice, researchers found that NMN supplementation restored blood flow, leading to increased treadmill run time and doubled exercise endurance. In fact, the endurance of the aging mice even matched or exceeded the endurance of younger mice.
According to David Sinclair, the senior author of the study, the NMN supplements provided the same beneficial effects as regular exercise. If found to be replicable in humans, NMN may be used as a replacement for physical activity in older or disabled individuals who may not have the endurance needed to sustain regular exercise.
By improving blood flow and preserving blood vessels, NMN can potentially reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and help with wound healing – another beneficial effect for diabetic patients who are at risk of losing appendages and limbs due to poor circulation.
Improve Brain Function And Slow Neurodegeneration
In another study involving animal models, scientists studied mice with Alzheimer’s disease to determine the effects of NAD+ on the brain. The researchers found that raising NAD+ levels in their subjects resulted in decreased protein build-up, which has been found to disrupt cell communication in the brain.
Another key finding of the study is that, by improving blood flow, raising NAD+ levels promotes overall organ health.
One of the lesser known age-related conditions is called “inflammaging” or the increase in systemic chronic low-grade inflammation. Inflammaging is caused by a combination of factors, including senescent cells and cell debris, and can lead to other well-known age-related complications such as arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer.
By reducing blood vessel inflammation and lowering adipose tissue inflammation, NMN can slow the effects of inflammation brought on by the aging process. In one of the animal studies, researchers found that older mice were even more responsive to NMN in this area than younger mice.
Reduce Vision Problems
Age-related decline of vision is one of those things that we’ve seemingly just come to accept out of aging. New research is showing the potential of reducing vision problems in old age through NMN supplementation.
The same study involving elderly mice found that long-term NMN supplementation could improve tear production. This could help address the issue of dry eye syndrome, which is a common problem that people experience as they get older.
Improved retinal function and reduced cell death in eye injuries were some of the other notable vision-related findings from the animal models.
Tackle Cancerous Cells
There is some debate as to whether NMN and NAD+ can be a bane or boon to those who are at higher risk of developing cancer. Some scientists have posited that since NMN boosts cell growth, it can theoretically accelerate the growth of cancer cells as well. But there is no definitive evidence that confirms this theory.
In fact, some experts believe that the opposite can be true. A non-peer-reviewed report from Beijing demonstrated that anti-tumor cells treated with 100 micrometers of NMN were more effective and persistent at attacking cancer cells.
When these NMN-treated cells were injected into mice with tumors, their tumors shrunk significantly as well. This shows the promising use of NMN in fighting cancer.
Prevent Circadian Rhythm Disruptions
If you’ve ever wondered why your grandparents go to bed so early, blame aging. It is a well-known fact that your circadian rhythm (your internal body clock) will likely change as you age. This is brought on by a number of factors, such as reduced light exposure, the yellowing of one’s eye lenses, and irregular sleep-wake patterns brought on by neurodegenerative diseases like dementia.
For people who are experiencing significant changes to their circadian rhythms and sleep quality – for example, people with advanced sleep-wake phase disorder – NMN supplements may be able to help. In a recent study, researchers have found that increasing NAD+ levels in elderly mice leads to a reduction in PER2, a clock repressor.
Aside from the elderly, shift workers will also be able to benefit from treatments that target circadian rhythm disruptions. That includes doctors and nurses, truck drivers, emergency responders, pilots, flight attendants, and reporters.
The Drawbacks Of NMN Supplements
There isn’t a lot of data yet on the long-term effects of taking NMN supplements, as NMN usage is fairly new.
One study conducted with ten healthy Japanese men found that NMN administration of up to 500 mg (taken orally) does not cause any “significant deleterious effects”. As such, taking NMN supplements orally has been determined to be a feasible therapeutic strategy for reducing the risk of developing age-related illnesses.
How Much NMN Should You Take A Day?
There isn’t a definitive answer yet on the most effective dosage. However, most experts agree that the ideal dosage would be somewhere around 500 mg to 1,200 mg a day.
Dr. David Sinclair, one of the leading aging specialists who has spearheaded studies on NMN and NAD+, takes 1 gram of NMN each day along with metformin and resveratrol and reports no adverse effects. In the study involving healthy adults from Japan, scientists found that 500 mg of NMN administered orally yielded no significant negative effects on the subjects.
If you’d like to start small, 250 mg a day should suffice. A study from the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis revealed that oral administration of 250 mg of NMN for 10 weeks boosted insulin sensitivity and structure in older women. A University of Tokyo study also showed that 250 mg a day (taken orally) for 12 weeks improves muscle function, walking speed, grip strength, and the like in elderly males.
What To Look For In An NMN Supplier
Before you start buying NMN, make sure you know what factors to look out for. Keep the following considerations in mind as you shop:
The Product’s Purity
Always look for 99% pharmaceutical-grade NMN. That means a product that has gone through a rigorous, multi-step process and contains no fillers or contaminants like soy, gluten, GMOs, artificial chemicals, solvents, and the like.
Make sure to always check the ingredients before making a purchase. If a manufacturer does not include information on ingredients or does not respond to requests about their production process, steer clear and look for a more transparent company. You always want to know what you’re putting into your body, especially if you’ve got severe allergies.
Don’t Be Swayed By Low Prices
If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of sellers offering NMN supplements at half of the average price on the market. There is a high chance that such cheap supplements are padded with fillers or all kinds of additives to give the product extra weight.
Look For Products That Can Thrive At High Temperatures
Not all NMN products can survive at high temperatures for long. Make sure the supplier you’re buying from has had their NMN tested for stability. If not, they should at least be able to ship their products in such a way that their ideal temperature is preserved.
Is NMN Worth It?
So, what’s the verdict? Is NMN worth all the hype? Well, like most things in life, the answer is a little complicated. Though there haven’t been too many clinical trials for humans just yet, the few that we’ve seen, plus the animal studies, have all shown promising results and highlighted the myriad of potential benefits there are to taking NMN supplements.
If you do decide to give NMN supplements a try, it’s important to do your research first and start with a low dose to see how your body reacts. And as always, consult with your doctor before making any major changes to your diet or health routine.