Inside all of our cells, we make an important molecule called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, better known as NAD+. Our cells use NAD+ for a variety of purposes, some of the most important of which are to produce the energy that our cells need to function and to activate proteins that repair damaged DNA. As we age, the amount of this molecule declines.
Scientists believe that the decline of NAD+ may cause many of the health-related problems related to aging. If we could stem this loss, the thinking goes, we might both live longer while remaining healthier.
One way that we might sustain healthy levels of NAD+ is by supplementing our bodies with its precursor, nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). All cellular compounds are made in a way analogous to a factory assembly line, where each component is the precursor for the next one. To produce more NAD+, then, one needs more precursors like NMN.
Potential Benefits of NMN
- Increasing the body's ability to make more energy
- Anti-aging and supporting the body in youth regenesis
- NAD+ also plays a key role in activating proteins that maintain the integrity of our DNA. Given its central role in so many cellular processes, the potential benefits of NMN extend to nearly all body systems. Below are some of the better-known examples.
Promotes Vascular Health and Blood Flow
We rely on our skeletal muscles for movement, stability and strength. To remain strong and in good condition, these muscles must consume significant amounts of key energy molecules, like glucose and fatty acids. Because NAD+ is required to metabolize these molecules, our muscles need a steady supply of its building blocks, such as NMN.
Studies in mice have shown that NMN protects against numerous aging-related declines in health, such as the stiffening of blood vessels, oxidative stress, our cells’ ability to keep dividing, and even changes in how active our genes are, what scientists call gene expression.
Muscle Endurance and Strength
Studies have shown that mice fed NMN for extended periods of time had better energy metabolism with no obvious side effects. The health of our muscles grows ever more important as we age and our own supply of NAD+ declines.
Protects Against Heart Disease
At least your skeletal muscles get to take breaks. Not only can your heart not take a rest, it can’t even slow its pace much without causing serious problems. The heart’s energy requirement, therefore, is tremendous. And to keep it ticking, it needs to make all the NAD+ it can. This is why cardiac cells need a steady supply of NMN.
Lowers Risk of Obesity
Obesity is linked to a wide array of unhealthy conditions and can be very challenging to treat. There is no easy remedy for obesity and related conditions such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome. While lifestyle adjustments like consistent exercise and a healthy diet are of paramount importance, every little bit helps. In mouse studies, NMN displays an effect that mimics aspects of calorie restriction (CR). Although CR has been shown to provide numerous benefits to aging and health, it is a difficult regime to maintain over a long period of time. Mimicking its benefits without adhering to such an extreme diet would be undeniably beneficial.
Enhances Maintenance of DNA Repair
The NAD+ made from NMN activates a group of proteins called sirtuins. Sirtuins, sometimes thought of as the guardians of our healthspan, play a key role in maintaining DNA integrity. Each time our cells divide, the DNA at the very ends of our chromosomes grows a tiny bit shorter. At a certain point, this begins to damage our genes. Sirtuins slow this process by stabilizing those end bits, known scientifically as telomeres. In order to function, however, sirtuins rely upon NAD+. Recent studies have shown that feeding mice NMN activated sirtuins and led to more stable telomeres.
Increases Mitochondrial Function
Simply put, we couldn’t live without our mitochondria. These unique cellular structures are known as the powerhouses of the cell. They convert molecules from the food we eat into the energy that our cells use. NAD+ is central to this process. In fact, mitochondrial anomalies caused by the loss of NAD+ may even impact neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s. Studies done in mice have shown that NMN supplementation has rescued some mitochondrial dysfunctions.
Recommended Dose for Human Consumption
Research in animal studies has shown that increasing NAD+ levels can reverse various age-related illnesses such as heart diseases, diabetes, and neurodegeneration. Boosting the molecule even extended the lifespans of yeast, worms, and mice. NMN’s NAD+-boosting ability in animals and its healthspan-promoting properties led scientists to believe in the molecule’s therapeutic potentials. Now, scientists are starting clinical trials to understand whether NMN is safe, how much we should take, and what it does to our body.
Do Scientists Use NMN?
With clinical studies still underway, some scientists are confident enough in NAD+’s benefits for aging and are already taking supplements themselves.
David Sinclair, a Harvard professor who studies aging, talked about taking NMN to remain healthy and prevent aging on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Sinclair takes 1 gram of NMN every day, along with other supplements including resveratrol, metformin, and aspirin. When asked if there are any downsides of the supplements, Sinclair said he hasn’t experienced anything other than stomach upset so far, and to him, “anything’s better than what’s coming” — aging.