Nicotinamide mononucleotide ("NMN", "NAMN", and "β-NMN") is a bioactive nucleotide, and nucleotides are the organic compounds that serve as building blocks for DNA and RNA - molecules essential to all life and species reproduction.
NMN is delivered to cells either from food or from the body’s own production within the liver. Inside of a cell, the NMN molecule is further converted into another nucleotide, NAD+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide), which is the key source of energy for the body.
When NAD+ energy is used up, the molecule transforms into a discharged or reduced form of NAD+ called NADH, a hydrogenated form of NAD.
As the body reaches middle age, its ability to produce NAD from vitamin B3 and other nutrients decreases, and the levels of NAD drop by half. This is one of the main causes of aging, decline in energy, chronic disease, decrease in immune function, and failure of the immune system to destroy cancer cells.
Logically, supplementing NAD+ directly would make sense, except the molecule is highly unstable. This is where supplementing NMN (the precursor of NAD+) comes into play, as it is more stable and quickly converts into NAD within cells.
NMN has been at the forefront of leading anti-aging research for more than a decade, first in yeast and then mammals and people, mainly because it is a stable precursor (source of NAD+).
Image by: Brettjweiss*
NAD has 3 important roles within the body.
- NAD is essential for cellular energy creation inside mitochondria, which play a central role in supplying cells with energy. Here is a brief video that explains the energy generation process within mitochondria.
- NAD is also an important coenzyme that activates sirtuins, which are enzymes responsible for slowing down the aging process. In general, coenzymes serve as activation agents for enzymes, and their role can be compared to the role of water in leavening sourdough bread. Without water, yeast will not multiply and the bread will not rise. Without coenzymes, some enzymes in the body won’t be active.
- NAD plays an important role in PARP, which stands for Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase. PARP is a protein that is important for DNA repair, genetic stability, and programmed cell death (which is important in the body’s cancer defense system). Once again, without NAD, PARP would be ineffective. As life goes on and the body constantly regenerates, DNA has to replicate. The process of replication can be compared to copying an audio recording on an analog tape. With each copy the recording quality is lower, and the errors in transcription present as recording noise. In a young body, DNA transcription errors are efficiently repaired, however as the body ages and NAD levels decline, signs of aging (wrinkles, joint disease, organ disease and cancer) become more likely.
What are the main symptoms of low NAD levels?
With the decline of NAD, the individual feels fatigued, their performance is lowered, muscles may be weaker, joints become stiffer, the immune system is less effective, inflammation in blood vessels and tissues increases, and the brain and nervous system show signs of decline.
Can we supplement NAD?
As mentioned above, NAD is very unstable, therefore supplementing it is not a viable option. The best way to increase levels of NAD is to supplement its precursors NMN or NR, nicotinamide riboside.
There are two different ways to increase NAD levels in the body:
- Supplementing NR (Nucleotide Riboside), which converts into NAD+
- Supplement NMN, which quickly converts into NR within cells and then becomes NAD+
Naturally, one may ask which is better, NR or NMN, and the answer is still unclear. However, we can look to a Harvard top researcher in the field of the biology of aging for more insight. Dr. David Sinclair, has dedicated a large portion of the past decades to research on the influence of NAD boosters resveratrol and sirtuin on the aging process. As a result of very encouraging results, he has been taking NMN personally for several years and despite being in his 50’s, his youthful appearance is definitely encouraging.
Here is a list of research studies that Dr. Sinclair has participated in.
A closer look at NMN research
- Doses of 500 mg were shown to be safe in men in a recent human study at Keio University School of Medicine, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.
- Research has confirmed that NMN increases cellular NAD levels, and has a positive protective effect on blood vessels and reduces their inflammation.
- Research has shown that NMN increases NAD levels in energy depleted muscles.
- Studies in primates and humans have confirmed that it is possible to reduce inflammation and metabolic disorders with sirtuin enzyme activators and NAD precursors.
Additional studies that show promising results with supplementation of NMN in people and/or animals:
- Nicotinamide Mononucleotide: A Promising Molecule for Therapy of Diverse Diseases by Targeting NAD+ Metabolism
- Long-Term Administration of Nicotinamide Mononucleotide Mitigates Age-Associated Physiological Decline in Mice
- Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) supplementation promotes anti-aging miRNA expression profile in the aorta of aged mice, predicting epigenetic rejuvenation and anti-atherogenic effects
- Nicotinamide Mononucleotide: Exploration of Diverse Therapeutic Applications of a Potential Molecule
*Image licence information here. This is a cropped version of the original.